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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Flesh+Blood (1985)

Director: Paul Verhoeven
Cast: Rutger Hauer, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Burlinson, Jack Thompson, Fernando Hilbeck
Genre: Medieval Fantasy

Plot: A medieval saga of a band of mercenaries who are pledged to exact revenge on an Italian noble lord who doesn’t live up to his promise.

Flesh+Blood (1985)Flesh+Blood is set in early 1500s when Black Death has just begun spreading its claws in Italy. There is no law and order left in the country side—murder, rape, and loot are common occurrence.

An Italian noble Arnolfini (Fernando Hilbeck) hires a band of mercenaries and farmers-turned-soldier to win back his city lost to a coup, while away. Arnofilni promises the mercenaries a day's plunder in the city but once victorious he makes his commander-in-chief Hawkwood (Jack Thompson) drive them out of the city without food, water, or weapons.

Mercenaries have no shelter and are devastated. Their leader Martin (Rutger Hauer)–a brave, carefree and eccentric man soon loses his infant son too. While digging the grave for his dead son, Martin unearths a wooden statue of Saint Martin of Tours–a saint with a sword. The mercenaries’ priest proclaims it as a sign from God and Martin takes up the sword to lead them.

They soon kidnap Agnes (Jennifer Jason Leigh), the virgin betrothed of the Arnofilni’s son Steven (Tom Burlinson). To avoid gang-rape, Agnes initially fakes love for Martin and uses her—recently come to fore—sexuality to manipulate him but soon falls for him.

Arnofilni was fatally wounded by mercenaries and Hawkwood has retired. Steven—highly intellectual but not a soldier—enforces Hawkwood to come out of retirement. Together they siege the castle mercenaries are using as a hideout. During the siege Hawkwood is infected by the bubonic plague—the Black Death and Steven has been captured by mercenaries. Hawkwood uses an unorthodox medical technique, mentioned by Steven, to cure himself. Once fit, he decides to bring in more troops but flings pieces of a diseased dog into the castle before leaving.

Steven flings one piece to water well and Agnes sees him doing so. She decides to keep it to herself as she still loves Steven. At breakfast most of the mercenaries are soon infected by poisoned water, though when Martin attempts to drink; Agnes slaps the cup away from his hands.

Now mercenaries are dying and fleeing the castle. Soon Hawkwood and Arnolfini, who has recovered from his wound, return with an army to enrage the castle. Agnes and Steven leave the castle and some of the surviving mercenaries pledge fealty to Arnofilni.

Martin is assumed dead, Agnes and Steven are hugging each other; at the same time Agnes notices Martin slipping out of the castle with some plunder in his sack, which she keeps mum about.

Acting is not a strong point of the movie, it is rather mediocre. But it is very much possible director wanted it to be so, as there is much focus on skin and gore.

The strong points of the movie are its blackish humor and young Jennifer Jason Leigh – who manages to look pretty, and at the same time hell-bent sexy! Take her out and movie goes kaput. There is plenty of blood-gore and full-frontal nudity which blends in well with the scenario and is done artistically, well...more like need of the hour!

A must watch if you enjoy a middle age saga.


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