Red Sonja takes place in the same fantasy universe as Arnold Schwarzenegger's Conan flicks as we meet Sonja (Brigette Nielsen) after her family has been killed and she's been raped for rejecting the sexual advances of Queen Gedren (Sandahl Bergman). After being bestowed with strength by a spirit/god/ghost thing Sonja goes and trains in sword fighting with some Asian dudes like in Conan then heads off on a quest of revenge. On her way she meets Lord Kalidor (Arnold), young Prince Tarn (Ernie Reyes, Jr.) and his servant Falkon (Paul L. Smith). Sword fighting, beheading, stabbing, mechanical underwater snake creature, eating, Tae Kwon Do, magical orb only Sonja can touch, beautiful landscapes, huge sets and Ennio Morricone score shenanigans ensues.
Producer De Laurentis offered the title role to Conan the Barbarian co-star Sandahl Bergman who had played the viciously vivacious Valeria, Arnold's love interest and fellow sword fighting thief. Bergman turned down the role in favor of the evil Queen Gedren. With production nearing, De Laurentis saw 21 year old Danish model Brigitte Nielsen on the cover of a magazine and flew her to Italy to screen test. Standing in line with 25 other hopefuls, 6'1" Nielsen barely fit into her costume and immediately became returning Destroyer director Richard Fleischer's favorite. Schwarzenegger was under contract to De Laurentis and came on board for what he thought would be a glorified cameo as the sword swinging Lord Kalidor. Originally intended to be a reprisal of his Conan character, De Laurentis didn't pay Universal for name rights so Arnold is basically Conan but with fancier clothes (is that red vest and pants ensemble velvet?!). The $18 million dollar film with a script by George MacDonald Fraser and Clive Exton shot in Italy near Rome. A total newcomer to acting and movie making, Nielsen quickly fell for Arnold and the two embarked on an affair during shooting. Arnold shot his role in less than 4 weeks and was horrified to see his cameo had turned into a full on supporting role with his name listed first on the movie's poster and his image being larger than Red Sonja's.
Sabotage barely cracked $10 million at the box office, making it his worst showing since Sonja not adjusting for inflation. Star Nielsen would soon meet action icon Sylvester Stallone, a rumored "gift" from Arnold as the two men were still rivals at the time. Nielsen would marry Sly and appear in Rocky IV and then Cobra before landing a plum role in the 1987 hit Beverly Hills Cop II. The two divorced in 1987 and Nielsen's follow up film roles would never match her early output. In 2014 she appeared in Mercenaries, a low budget knock off of Stallone's The Expendables featuring female action figures like Zoe Bell, Kristanna Loken, Cynthia Rothrock and Vivica A Fox.
jokey cheesiness of Destroyer with it's pretty straight ahead approach that somehow effortlessly mixes lesbianism, rape, revenge, romance, magic, swordplay and high adventure.