When you think of how awesome Brigitte Nielsen was in the 80’s only three movies should really come to mind. Why? Well because in the 80’s she was for the most part just flat out tough. Nielsen didn’t take a whole lot of roles where she wasn’t just severe or in some way aggressive. To be honest though this was what made her so great back then, she had the look and the attitude to pull it off and the roles she was cast into were simply too great to pass up. At one point she was married to Sylvester Stallone, but that lasted less than two years and was kind of a running gag for a while, especially since she was married to him during the same year in which Rocky IV came out. To be honest, looking at the pair it didn’t seem like it would be a workable deal and obviously it wasn’t. She’s been married five different times, two of those having occurred in the 1980’s. Aside from that however she was an awesome actress to see in the 80’s, and if you look at the clips below you’ll see why.
Red Sonya (1985)
Let’s admit one thing first and foremost. Red Sonja is the culmination of a fantastical story and an adolescent fantasy about a woman in very little clothing that can kick some major butt. In fact throughout the entire film there’s only one person that can even come close to matching her, and it’s the only man that gets to touch her with any level of intimacy without losing something in the process. Red Sonja is without a doubt one of the toughest and most violent females ever created, but she’s also a rather complex character if you really get to know her story. One interesting fact though is that the main villain in this movie is the same woman that played Valeria in Conan the Barbarian. Look it up.
As Red Sonja though she got the chance to appeal mostly to men but no doubt to women in part as well since Sonja was fierce, independent, but was also depicted as capable of taking care of herself. There’s no doubt that her appearance in comics and the continuation of her character was the unilateral and very suspect fantasy of a band of male writers that had an idea of what a warrior woman would look like, but didn’t think in the most practical of terms. I mean come on, the more popular she got the less clothes she ended up wearing.
Rocky IV (1985)
So you can say it, she didn’t have a huge role in this one but she was there for most of it and she did get to speak more than once. But if you really look at this film she was there more because she was Ivan’s wife and mouthpiece than anything. If his handlers weren’t talking for him then she was, and usually they had nothing good to say about their opponents but heaped praise upon Ivan. Of course that was expected since every trainer and supporter of an athlete is bound to talk them up and attempt to trash talk their opponent. But I’ll admit that part of me wanted to see a verbal sparring session between Apollo Creed and Drago’s wife that took up a few minutes of film at least. It would never happen obviously since it would likely be seen as pointless and not worth taking the time, but it would still be interesting. A great mental picture would be Apollo hammering away at an iron curtain with his fists and causing only minimal damage while thinking he still had a chance to knock it down.
Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)
So let’s say this: Karla Frye was a little over the top. Nielsen had already been in a couple of roles where she got to be snarky, aggressive, and overall kind of irritating with her attitude, but those first roles worked. They established her as a woman that wouldn’t take anything off of a man just because she was female. But at the same time this role kind of went a little over the top in placing her as a top-level assassin simply because it felt a little forced. I won’t say it wasn’t great, since it did add something to the film that was needed. But it was also a little contrived at the same time, as though the studio figured that she just needed to be tough and severely feminine without any soft spots. Nielsen could pull the cold and calculating character off pretty well, but in truth it almost seemed like a cross between Red Sonja and Mrs. Drago since she was both tough, unrelenting, and yet manipulative as well.
You say what you want about her career in the 80’s, but these are the three most memorable films that kickstarted her career. And believe us, we haven’t forgotten about the 1987 flop Cobra.