Friday, 27 April 2012

Review - Flesh + Blood (1985 - Dir. Paul Verhoeven)

Whoops. Soz.

Flesh + Blood starts off like a highly inappropriate pantomime. The acting is shocking; even Rutger Hauer suffers from a severe case of over-the-top, back-slapping camaraderie and raucous flaughter (definition - false laughter). Brion James is the worst offender, but then again, he always is. (See Tango and Cash for more of his comedy antics.)

The initial section of the film makes for uncomfortable viewing. Rutger's merry little band of mercenaries are cheated out of their rightful spoils by Arnolfini, a noble lord. Then they are run out of town. They soon get their own back. They ambush said lord and nick his treasure, inadvertently kidnapping his son's bride-to-be, Agnes (Jennifer Jason Leigh - Last Exit to Brooklyn). By this point you are firmly on the side of Rutger and his little chums, cheering them on in their humorous shenanigans and malarkey. Then they brutally gang rape Agnes. 

Flesh + Blood takes a good long while to recover from this, but as it develops, it transpires that you should be siding with Agnes and the lord's, initially irritating, son. You have to give Verhoeven the benefit of the doubt that this was always his intention, to usurp your expectations. Then the plague makes a guest appearance and things start to pick up.

There are some cracking quotes in it. A band of soldiers come across an old lady, accompanied by a young lady. They question them. The young lady won't talk. The old lady explains that, "Some soldiers, big fellows like you, raped her when she was a child and then cut out her tongue for fun." To which, one of the soldiers comments to his boss, "Come, my friend. We'll learn nothing here." Cheers, mate. Very sympathetic. Good luck in your job at The Samaritans. Another pearler is: "Knives and forks are part of our lives." Don't ask.

Mr Hauer is just made for iconic shots. Put him in the rain, mist or against fire and film him. Instant great shot. There are at least three such shots within Flesh + Blood. Worth the asking price alone. The small matter of a hot tub scene adds value too.

After the shaky start, Flesh + Blood grew on me and by the end I actually quite enjoyed it. Not Verhoeven's best. Not Hauer's best. But not bad.

If you like this you could also try:
Salute of the Jugger, Blind Fury, Excalibur.

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