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.
***Moral ambiguities and barbaric reality in post-Medieval Europe*** At the beginning of the 16th century in plague-ridden Western Europe an uncouth band of lawless mercenaries led by the charismatic Martin (Rutger Hauer) kidnap a virgin noblewoman (Jennifer Jason Leigh) as revenge against a double-dealing Lord (Fernando Hilbeck). The tough commoners hole up in a small castle while the Lord’s son, Steven (Tom Burlinson), tries to save his betrothed (Leigh) with his militia. While the events in "Flesh+Blood" (1985) take place just after the medieval period, it could be categorized as a medieval flick. It takes the general setting & color of “The Last Valley” (1971) and mixes-in the music & tone of “Conan the Barbarian” (1982) with genius Basil Poledouris scoring both (although this score is nowhere near as notable). The film’s brutal grit and vulgarities influenced “Rob Roy” (1994) and the hole-up-in-a-castle plot was recycled in “Iron Clad” (2011). If you favor any of these movies you’ll probably appreciate "Flesh+Blood” despite some overdone elements, like Susan Tyrrell’s verging-on-lunatic performance. There are two conflicting factions: The nobles & their knights and the armed “commoners,” but neither are portrayed as the “good guys” and “bad guys.” Martin, for instance, is a bold and charismatic alpha male, but he’s also kind of scum; sorta the best of the worst. Steven easily stands out as the most gallant individual, but when he doesn’t get his way he pompously threatens retired-knight Hawkwood (Jack Thompson). At the end of the day this is a unique, adult-oriented film about using your natural gifts, including your wit & body, to survive in a barbaric disease-ridden reality. Memorable moments abound. The film runs 2 hours, 6 minutes and was shot entirely in Spain. The Castilla-La Mancha was also used in El Cid (1961). GRADE: B