Red Sonja is a 1985 Dutch-American sword and sorcery action film directed by Richard Fleischer. The film introduces Brigitte Nielsen as the title character with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sandahl Bergman, Ronald Lacey, Ernie Reyes, Jr., Paul L. Smith, and Pat Roach in supporting roles. The film features the sword-wielding Marvel Comics character Red Sonja, created by Roy Thomas, who first appeared in Marvel's Conan the Barbarian series (#23) in 1973. Red Sonja was based on Red Sonya of Rogatino, a character invented by R. E. Howard appearing in his short story, "The Shadow of the Vulture" (1934). The film acknowledges that it was "based on the character created by Robert E. Howard" in the introductory credits. As in Howard's stories of Conan, the film takes place in the Hyborian Age, a fictional prehistoric time that had been depicted previously in the films Conan the Barbarian and Conan the Destroyer. The film was shot in Italy, on location in Celano and the rest of the Abruzzo region, and in the Stabilimenti Cinematografici Pontini studios near Rome.
Red Sonja is visited by a spirit who grants her the strength to seek her revenge against Queen Gedren. In a flashback scene, Gedren murders Red Sonja's brother and parents after Sonja rejects the queen's sexual advances, and Sonja is raped by Gedren's troops.Later, Gedren's army and her aide-de-camp Ikol attack a temple full of white-robed priestesses, who are preparing to destroy a large, glowing green orb called the Talisman, used by the Creator to forge the world. This dangerous artifact's destructive power is growing, and the priestesses intend to destroy it before it gets out of control and destroys the world. Only the priestess Varna manages to escape and she is mortally injured. Varna encounters Lord Kalidor and begs him to help her find her sister, Red Sonja. Kalidor finds Sonja and tells her that her sister is dying. Before dying, Varna tells Sonja what happened at the temple, and urges her to find the Talisman and destroy it. Sonja begins a journey to Berkubane, Gedren's Kingdom of Eternal Night.
Sonja sees a storm in the distance, indicating that someone is using the Talisman. Kalidor offers to help her, but Sonja rejects his offer and rides to the now-ruined kingdom of Hablock. There she meets the young Prince Tarn and his servant, Falkon. They tell her that Gedren wiped out Hablock and its army with the Talisman because Tarn refused to surrender. Tarn announces that he is raising a new army to crush Gedren and invites Sonja to work for him as a cook. She declines and goes her own way.
Sonja kills Lord Brytag after he refuses her passage through the mountain passes. His troops surround Sonja, and Kalidor, who has secretly been following her, attacks their rear, allowing Sonja to escape. Sonja comes across Tarn and Falkon in the mountains. Tarn is being tortured by bandits. Falkon rejoins Sonja to help her kill the brigands and free the prince. They travel onward toward Berkubane.
At Castle Berkubane, Gedren and Ikol watch Sonja and her party approaching on a magic screen. Gedren recognizes Sonja and orders that she be brought back to the fortress unharmed. She and Ikol use the Talisman to conjure up a storm, forcing Sonja's band to take shelter in a watery cavern. Gedren unleashes an "Icthyan Killing Machine" in the cavern. Kalidor reappears, and helps Sonja blind the beast.
Sonja now accepts Kalidor's company, but also warns him that "no man can have her" unless he can defeat her in a swordfight. Kalidor challenges her and they fight to a draw. Kalidor, Sonja and Falkon then infiltrate Castle Berkubane. To protect Tarn, they convince him to stay behind in order to prevent Gedren from escaping. Sonja confronts Gedren, while Kalidor and Falkon deal with her guards in the castle's dining hall. Ikol tries to escape with gold looted from Hablock, but is stopped by Prince Tarn, who accidentally kills him.
The Talisman, which Gedren has placed in a Chamber of Lights, is becoming too powerful to control. Its power breaks the floor open, revealing a chasm of molten lava beneath the castle. Sonja and Gedren fight in the Chamber, but Sonja eventually gains the upper hand and runs Gedren through with her sword, sending the evil ruler plunging to her doom in the lava pit below. Sonja throws the Talisman in after her, destroying it and starting a chain reaction that tears Castle Berkubane apart. The heroes manage to escape just before the castle is consumed by the rising volcano. Sonja and Kalidor kiss. Prince Tarn and Falkon look on before departing.
- Brigitte Nielsen as Red Sonja
- Arnold Schwarzenegger as Lord Kalidor
- Sandahl Bergman as Queen Gedren of Berkubane
- Paul L. Smith as Falkon
- Ernie Reyes, Jr. as Prince Tarn
- Ronald Lacey as Ikol
- Pat Roach as Lord Brytag
- Terry Richards as Djart
- Janet Agren as Varna, Red Sonja's sister
- Donna Osterbuhr as Kendra (High Priestess)
- Lara Naszinsky as Queen Gedren's handmaid
- Hans Meyer as Red Sonja's father
- Francesca Romana Coluzzi as Red Sonja's mother
- Stefano Maria Mioni as Barlok (Red Sonja's brother)
- Tutte Lemkow as Wizard
- Kiyoshi Yamasaki as Kyobo
- Tad Horino as Swordmaster
- Sven-Ole Thorsen as one of Lord Brytag's bodyguards
- Erik Holmey as Lord Brytag's bodyguard who battles Red Sonja before she kills him