Flesh + Blood (1985)
Genre: Period Action Adventure War Drama (USA, Netherlands, Spain)
Starring: Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner; Ladyhawke), Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Machinist; eXistenZ)
Directed By: Paul Verhoeven (RoboCop; Total Recall)
Overview: When a group of mercenary soldiers get double-crossed by a Lord, they avenge themselves by robbing his caravan. Among the spoils is the Lord's son's betrothed wife. The son vows to reclaim what is his.
Acting: The problem here was not Rutger, Jennifer, Brion or Hans, it was the era. 1985 seemed really deep in being obvious, I mean look at "MacGuyver" and "The A-Team". The direction lacked subtlety, Verhoven was a little too zealous, much like his cast from RoboCop. If this movie had been made in 1975 or 1995, it would have been much better, but Jennifer would still be a dirty nude girl (sooo much sex and nudity in this movie!).
Cinematography: This film is all look. The costumes, armour, the castles, the swords and knights, everything was neat to look at. My favorite scene is when the two betrothed meet: she starts digging under the feet of a couple rotting hung corpses for a magic love root. I really liked the fact that the first romantic moment she has with this guy has dangling dead and maggots in the background, it's amazing!
Script: As mentioned under Acting, the statements by 'Masters of the Obvious' got to me a little too much. These people had lines that were clearly such force-fed filler that I felt I was getting fattened up for slaughter. The writers chose to go a route where this could appeal more to a younger crowd because everything is overexplained to the point of vivid Technicolour clarity. I like my films to assume a certain level of intelligence and discuss more subtle nuances, you know?
Plot: The story is really quite amazing. We start with a band of soldiers who get screwed over, but rather than just saying "we'll get even", they bring in Signs of God and Saints' portents to lead them. The whole film is filled with very original scenes and the twists and turns of the story go directions you never would have expected. It's a shame that such an original and twisted love story was told in the manner it was.
Mood: Glaring errors in the continuity and the delivery really killed this for me. Introducing such awesome items as the bubonic plague and the scientific revolution but letting those very things be used as nigh-unbelievable plot crutches diminished the story too greatly. I will admit that I don't know the specifics of Black Plague incubation periods, but I'm still sure it's not two minutes... At least is was medieval. They worked hard on that.
Overall Rating: 74% (Filling...)
Aftertaste: The fact that two replicants from Blade Runner are in this makes me want to see THAT awesome movie again, but on its own I can say without a doubt this is not one of the must-see films of ... ever. Ok, wait. For all fans of films set in 1501, this is a must see. This is really the kind of movie that has it's tiny little niche, and you can look at it, see what's important and what needed improvement, with the context of the 80s era it was shot in. Come to think of it, this taught me quite a bit about how NOT to direct a film. It was good, if you just allow for the suspension of disbelief, and you make it part of your Sunday morning laundry ritual like I did, instead of making a big deal out of it.