Flesh + Blood

Betrayed by power. Corrupted by love. Bound by honor.

Adventure Drama
126 min     6.58     1985     Netherlands


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.


Wuchak wrote:
***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
drystyx wrote:
The supporting characters make this a classic. Most classic films are that way. This tale of Middle Ages blood and gore and survival is quite epic. Paul Verhoeven directs, so we can expect the "in your face" style that he's best at doing. There isn't the comic relief that you get in a lot of his movies. This is hard nosed action and blood. I guess that's why it's "Flesh+Blood". The romantic triangle are aging warrior Martin (Rutger Hauer), the plain blueblood virgin Agnes (Jennifer Leigh, who usually isn't this plain), and the nobleman's son, Steven (Tom Burlinson). We get hints that Steven is heroic at first, compared to his wicked father who cheats his soldiers and does what he can for money. Steven is a scholar who we are supposed to care about because he reads. Well, he quickly becomes a monster worse than his father. Martin actually works for the cardinal. In the Middle Ages, cardinals had little to do with "Jesus", and more to do with the estate of the church. Somehow, this cardinal is on the road, and cardinals were mercantile people, not religious people. They often kept small armies or bodyguards. This cardinal has some very expert warriors. In fact, the most likable characters in the film are a pair of homosexual soldiers who bring sanity and reason to the antics of Martin and his chief rival of the soldiers, Summer. There is one other soldier, who is older yet than Martin, and is also a very likable character. The women in the party with the cardinal and his soldiers are all much more gorgeous than Agnes, probably a statement about the blue blood royalty. The hottest girl of the group is also the most emotional, ready to satisfy the lusts of soldiers, and later weeping with the cardinal in remorse for her sins. They become quarry for Steven when they attack him and his home grown soldiers, who are basically just peons who are enlisted without training. The cardinal has declared Martin their leader by a supernatural decree. Martin kidnaps Agnes, and Agnes pleads for him to be her only lover, and not let Summer touch her. Martin gets involved with Agnes, who plays both ends against the middle. Steven chases them, with the help of the most interesting character on his team, Hawkwood. One of the sidebars here is the medical practice of the day. A cleric doctor of the time finds that plague has entered the camp, and his backwards medicine is no match for the plague. The characters are what make this a classic, as the two forces face off against each other. You'll likely find yourself caring more about the supporting characters like Hawkwood and the two homosexual soldiers and the "mother" than the major characters. And that's why this film is so special.