A band of medieval mercenaries take revenge on a noble lord who decides not to pay them by kidnapping the betrothed of the noble's son. As the plague and warfare cut a swathe of destruction...
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A band of medieval mercenaries take revenge on a noble lord who decides not to pay them by kidnapping the betrothed of the noble's son. As the plague and warfare cut a swathe of destruction throughout the land, the mercenaries hole up in a castle and await their fate. Written by
Keith Loh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The production was plagued by adversities. There was great animosity among the Spanish, American and Dutch crew and cast members; actors were using alcohol and drugs on the set, while wind, heavy snowfall and cold often disrupted filming, causing the movie to go over budget. Director Paul Verhoeven would later call it the worst filming experience of his life, one that made him consider quitting making movies altogether. See more »
There was no organized search for truth through skeptical thinking in the early 1500's. That came well after Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) and Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) first began to question the teachings of the Greeks (Aristotle, Plato). See more »
Why are you so scared? Everything is predestined. Life runs its own course. Look at this little angel! Saint Martin has sent us a little angel to play with!
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Director Paul Verhoeven has always enjoyed shocking his audience with violence, sex, gore and filth. This love of all things sordid can be traced right back to his European films of the '70s. In Flesh + Blood, his English-language debut, Verhoeven delights in pushing back a few Hollywood boundaries and serving up a medieval romp that alternately intrigues and disgusts. While it is most definitely not everyone's cup of tea, Flesh + Blood is never boring.... and certainly shows the plague-ridden period in a more authentic light than most films that have gone before.
In Western Europe during the early 16th Century, a gang of mercenaries led by the charismatic Martin (Rutger Hauer) help a nobleman to win back control of his city. The nobleman (Fernando Hillbeck) promises that they may take loot from his city if they help him. but once the battle reaches a favourable conclusion he goes back on his word and banishes the mercenaries to the wild. Martin's gang return for revenge and discover that the nobleman's son, Steven (Tom Burlinson), is to be married to a virginal princess named Agnes (Jennifer Jason Leigh). The mercenaries kidnap Agnes and head off with her, leaving young Steven to lament his loss. Agnes is abused and tormented by her captors, and ultimately raped by Martin himself, but she gives the impression that she is actually enjoying her ordeal. Martin falls in love with her and takes her as his "official" lover, making a home for her and the band in a nearby castle. Meanwhile, Steven enlists an old soldier, Hawkwood (Jack Thompson) - once a colleague of Martin's - and together they plan a way of rescuing the princess from the clutches of the mercenaries.
Flesh + Blood is full of deliberate unpleasantness. Rotting corpses hang from trees; a stillborn baby is crudely stuffed into a barrel and buried in a puddle; gang rape reigns supreme; heads and torsos are impaled on lances; nuns are disfigured and murdered; a plague-ridden dog is dismembered and its body parts used for a primitive form of germ warfare. Verhoeven is clearly having a ball rubbing our noses in all this dirt, and he somehow encourages his well-known cast to enter into the vile proceedings with full-blooded gusto. The problem is that the story is not all that compelling and takes a long time to play out to its obvious conclusion. There are occasional foolish moments that mar credibility too, such as the scene where Steven's soldiers build an unbelievably complex assault contraption overnight (a scene which hilariously reminds one of The A-Team!), and the bit where Martin spends several hours in a poisoned well but climbs out uninfected, while other members of his band drop down stricken merely by drinking a sip of the same water. Flesh + Blood is ultra-violent, ultra-brutal and ultra-sordid, so you'll need to be in a certain frame of mind to enjoy it. In other words, it's admirable but not enjoyable.
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