07-01-2012, 09:26 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2010
Movie Review - Flesh + Blood - eFilmCritic
Flesh & Blood is one of Paul Verhoeven's earliest movies, but it reeks of his trademark extremes of graphic violence. There's a realism to this movie you can almost smell. Plus there's some great battles with barrels of gore, lots of nudity, and some nasty and just plain gross plot twists. It's certainly not for the weak of heart (or stomach), but it IS a great movie. |
Martin (Rutger Hauer) leads a band of brutal mercenaries in the plague-ridden Medieval era. After being betrayed by their king, they strike back by kidnapping maiden Agnes(Jennifer Jason Leigh), who is promised to Prince Steven (Tom Burlinson). They then come across a castle, which they promptly decide to attack and keep for a new home. They set about the task, while Prince Steven and his men rapidly approach in their search for Agnes.
Of course, Agnes begins to care for Martin, bringing the wrath of his former flame, Celine (Susan Tyrell). There's much infighting within Martin's group, until an unlikely discovery "blesses" the group. (There are many familiar faces amongst Martin's men, including Bruno Kirby and the late Brion James.) Given the time frame of this movie, you can expect accurate depictions of bloody battles, plague victims, and a few nasty rapes.
The great movies are distinguished by one thing, in my book: Attention to detail. Small and large, important or just background noise, the genius indeed lies in the details. And everything about Flesh & Blood is almost too realistic. Paul Verhoeven points his camera at some shockingly violent (and even unpleasant) things without a blink. While this may upset and displease some viewers, others appreciate the very graphic detail. Even when unpleasant, these details are essential props for a movie like this. As soon as the facade begins to sag a little...boom...what you're left with is Conan the Destroyer.
As usual, Rutger Hauer is completely at ease in carrying a movie. He may be the most underrated actor of the last 20 years, as he continually makes junky movies that are recommendable solely thanks to his presence. His approach here is to play Martin as violent and ruthless, but also with a (very) quiet nobility. (Note the way he subtly prevents Agnes from being raped...twice!) By the end of the movie, you really can't tell if you should be rooting for him or not. That's a good thing. Jennifer Jason Leigh excels here, beginning as a complete innocent who quickly finds herself in extremely...carnal situations. Her transformation is completely believable, and we can always sense her ambiguity between her lust for Martin and her devotion to Prince Steven.
Flesh & Blood (also known as The Rose and The Sword, incidentally) is a brutal and exhilerating movie that will completely immerse you in this pretty damn unpleasant era. I'm not saying I'd want to buy a condo there, but a movie is meant to drop you wholly into a story. Flesh & Blood does that wonderfully, and the movie will enthrall you because of the realistic and brutal violence, not despite it. (I mention this to warn away the weak-hearted, but mainly to pique the interest of the gorehounds out there.)
I'm letting you all in on one of my "secret favorites" here, so I pretty much can guarantee that you'll like this one. It's equal parts of Excalibur, Braveheart and Joan of Arc. Go search for this one and thank me later.