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July 11, 2010
Red Sonja Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
14/8/19861/6/2010UniversalRichard Fleischer
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1PGArnold Schwarzenegger

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Brigitte Nielson stars as Red Sonja (1985).

With talk of a new Red Sonja movie hitting cinemas in 2011 (with Rose McGowan rumoured for the lead role) it probably wasn't a bad idea to release this Arnold Schwarzenegger movie on Blu-Ray now to cash in. Unfortunately if people see this they may be asking why remake this film at all - it will certainly need some massive changes to make it watchable.

The peaceful life of Sonja is shattered when her parents are murdered by Queen Gedren, who rules by terror and carries a talisman with which she can annihilate the planet. Sonja sets out to avenge her parents' death and is granted extraordinary powers by a mysterious vision. But she must vow never to fall in love with a man unless he is stronger than her. On her way to find Queen Gedren, she meets Kalidor - a stranger gifted with unusual strength...

After massive hits with Conan the Barbarian, Conan the Destroyer and The Terminator the movie studios would do anything to get Arnold back into his Conan role. Oh, but wait, that's a different franchise so here you can transplant the name "Conan" with the non-lawsuitable "Kalidor", despite the fact that in the comic books Red Sonja is a spinoff of Conan. Confused? Essentially the same character in look, tone, and abilities but with a different name.

Having said that Red Sonja was really a starring vehicle for Brigittel Nielson who plays Red Sonja, but Arnold, due to his star power, gets top billing. His limited screentime is annoying, but that's not the problem with this film. It's everything else. Terrible dialogue, terrible delivery, terrible action sequences and terrible mistakes.

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The annoying child - spank him!
Red Sonja is a pretty bad movie, terrible in fact, and is very hard to recommend unless you're after something to laugh at? Arnie's worst movie? Not quite, I still put Junior and his role as Mr Freeze in Batman & Robin as his worst movies but this isn't far off at all.

Red Sonja has never been the best looking movie ever, but this 1080p transfer on Blu-Ray does a decent job of making the film presentable. Using the AVC MPEG-4 codec the video bitrate, according to our PS3, typically hovers around the 30Mbps mark. The film is very dark for many sections however the detail remains with good shadow detail while colours look natural. No, it's not the sharpest, glossiest, looking transfer on Blu-Ray, but it's acceptable for a 25 year old film with a fairly clean print too.

Red Sonja is a terrible movie, has some above average visuals, but the audio too is sub-standard and sounds quite flat. Even with the boost up to DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (16-bit/48Khz) the sound is very much from the font channels with dull, monotone styled effects. Dialogue though is fairly clear. It must be said though that the poor audio on this disc is certainly a result of the original mono (1 channel) recording, not the transfer.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger as Kalidor in Red Sonja.
Other audio tracks on this disc includes a French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (16-bit/48Khz) as well as German, Italian, Spanish, Russian DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 tracks. We only sampled each briefly but they seemed to do the job. Subtitles are presented in Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish and Russian. Strangely, if you want subtitles you must first select the audio language before being given the choice of subtitle languages.

There has never been a big special edition for this movie, and again this Blu-Ray disc only has a couple of light extras, the highlight being the new documentary.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the man who raised Hollywood (15:38/HD): This is the same extra found on the Red Heat and Raw Deal discs and is a good look at Arnold's early years in Hollywood and how he bacame such a superstar with a string of hits. There are plenty of reviews with collaborators from previous years and it's worth a look.

Red Sonja Vs Kalidor: The Making of a Misunderstanding (12:03/HD): This featurette is an interview with Assistant Director Michel Ferry and he discusses the project, and working with the stars. It's a fairly honest interview where he discusses some of the production issues, and well worth watching.

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Fighting the water monster in Red Sonja!
Trailer (2:07): A trailer for Red Sonja. Its average in quality, but a good addition to the disc as it has several moments not in the final film.

Video and Audio calibration: Some really basic audio and video calibration tools which you may want to run if you've never tested your system before, but don't expect much. A nice little addition though.

Red Sonja is a pretty bad film but Arnold Schwarzenegger fans, such as myself, will be glad to see a fairly decent transfer on this disc. If you haven't seen it then it might be worth a watch, but just expect something pretty comically bad - and have plenty of alcohol ready to consume, possibly before you start the film!

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Universal. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.