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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 <email@example.com>
Good film, if you don't expect the wrong things from it.
This film is definitely off the beaten track. I enjoyed it a lot, and thought that there were some truly stand-out performances here, notably Rutger Hauer and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Some other actors and actresses that I didn't recognize were excellent. The tone is relentlessly bleak as befits the times. A couple of scenes put the times in perspective. One is where Agnes and Stephen talk and flirt beneath the hanging corpses without giving much thought to what we would consider today the horrid nature of such a sight. Another is towards the end, when one of the women has been captured (Polly, I think) and is being raped, and the lord (Stephen's father) simply walks past, barely noticing. I don't know if they are simply there for shock value, or if Verhoeven is making the point that one cannot judge mores, morals, and customs of past ages by the standards of today. (Something done quite a bit these days, most notably about slavery.)
Some of the criticisms in other comments are valid. True, none of the characters are very likeable. I was sort of hoping that they would all be dead by the end of the movie. But, again, I'm judging them by 21st century standards. Also, about the plague. I'm sure Verhoeven knows that plague is spread by rat fleas, so all of the machinations about the plague has to be from people's points of view in 1501-2.
This film is worth viewing, but don't expect gallantry, chivalry, or even decency. And no, it's really not a "date movie" Grade: A
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