Thursday, February 27, 2020

By the Gods!

Jennifer Jason Leigh and Rutger Hauer in FLESH + BLOOD (1985)

A grim story set in medieval times and directed by Paul Verhoeven which pretty much went under the radar when released to movie theatres back in 1985, and was sorta re-discovered by people, including me, when it became available on home video. Most people, including regular visitors to this blog, probably never heard of it. 

The story is sorta messed up. A young woman, Agnes (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is set to marry Steven (Tom Burlinson), who's from a noble family. Agnes is kidnapped by a motley crew of mercenaries, lead by Martin (Rutger Hauer) who seek revenge against Steven's father. The mercenaries seek shelter in a castle and barricade themselves from the outside world. Agnes, who's unscrupulous and devious, falls for her captives, mainly Martin. The story is set during the plague. Steven tries to rescues his fiancé. The confrontation leads to a bloody siege.

Rutger Hauer's impressive sword...

This is one of those films you either either like or hate. There's no in-between. The grim story is directed with verve and doesn't shy away from shocking scenes, including abortion, or Agnes and Steven making love under dead men hung to a tree (below). Yes, you read that right.

Directed with the typical nihilism seen in every Paul Verhoeven movie, this one is one of the most gruesome. At one point, the hero catapults some plague infested flesh inside the castle, which falls into a well. Of course, a well everyone inside the closed castle drinks from. It's filled with violence, nudity and sex. There are few likeable characters, including the 'hero' Steven, who's clearly not Verhoeven's favourite character. There's no one to root for. The production is solid even though there are some discrepancies here and there, certainly in the way the characters were written. 

Tom Burlinson as the handsome hero, Steven.

Personally, I can see all the strings in which the director pulled to trigger the audience and for me this is always a no. But even so I can't help but be sorta impressed by the director's complete utter contempt for all the characters in this story. It's quite nasty. Verhoeven revels so much in the grim plight of his characters that it's almost borderline funny, in a MONTY PYTHON & THE HOLY GRAIL (1975) kinda way.

I rate FLESH+BLOOD 5 out 10.

Martin's motley crew of mercenaries (too many actors to mention)

1 comment:

ap said...

No it's not a good movie. The only positive is the music of Basil Poledouris.