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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

Flesh + Blood (1985)
(Blu-Ray & DVD Dual Format)


Starring: Rutger Hauer, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Burlinson, Ronald Lacey, Susan Tyrrell and Jack Thompson
Distributor: Eureka Entertainment
RRP: £17.99 (Blu-Ray & DVD Dual Format)
Certificate: 18
Release Date: 06 August 2018

In 1501, Arnolfini uses a group of mercenaries to take back his city, promising them looting rights if they succeed. As soon as the city is secured he reneges on his deal, sending Commander Hawkwood to cut them down. Escaping, they not only succeed in taking a castle, they also kidnap Agnes, his son's betrothed…

Flesh + Blood (1985. 2 hrs, 07 min, 52 sec) is a historical drama, directed by Paul Verhoeven. This was Verhoeven’s first English language film and displays many of the tropes that he would use in later films, including graphic violence and nudity.

The film stars Rutger Hauer, as Martin the leader of the mercenaries, who is supported in his hold over his men by the group's cardinal, using a wooden statue of Saint Martin of Tours to convince the men that they are on a mission from God.

When they capture and rape Agnes (Jennifer Jason Leigh), she appears to join the group, attaching herself to Martin, who becomes enamoured of her, not believing that she wants to return to Steven (Tom Burlinson). Steven is a sort of latter-day Leonardo da Vinci, with a belief in science, rather than superstition.

The film has some good character actors, including Ronald Lacey who played the Cardinal with the over-the-top exuberance which he had displayed in previous films. Hauer puts in an enthusiastic performance as Martin, a soldier who has little in the way of morality to spoil his piece of mind, whether he is raping or murdering. You’ll also spot Brion James who played a replicant along side Hauer in Blade Runner (1982).

The Blu-ray is well supported with extras. You can play the film with English subtitles as well as a full-length commentary by the director. Verhoeven verses Verhoeven (46 min, 11 sec) is a documentary covering Verhoeven’s career. There were some issues with film clips which had originally been included that have had to be replaced with stills.

Paul Verhoeven in the Flesh (22 min, 42 sec) is a documentary with Verhoeven discussing the genesis and making of the film. There is also an audio interview with Rutger Hauer (24 min) discussing the film, which oddly sounds like he is on the phone. He also discusses his own process and the difference between making films in Europe and America.

There is also an interview with screenwriter, Gerard Soeteman (18 min, 27 sec) discussing the evolution of the story. Composing Flesh + Blood (13 min, 10 sec) with Basil Poledouris, who discusses his score and creative process. Personally, I thought the score was a little overpowering at times, not always matching the visual mood. The last extra is the Theatrical Trailer (2 min, 35 sec).

I really like Verhoeven as a director and while this is the uncut version of the film, the truth is that its not his best work, it feels too loose and episodic meaning its difficult to care what happens to the characters. There is also a strange mix of ‘damsel in distress’ fantasy movie, with guts and sex. I agree that Verhoeven’s view of medieval Italy is more accurate, but accuracy doesn’t always make for a good film.


Charles Packer

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Blu-ray & DVD