207 of 218 people found the following review helpful
I'm tired of folks who complain in their reviews of this when if they had just read the Amazon reviews as well as the comment that this film is for viewers 18 and over they may have not had to bother seeing this film.
Don't blame the other positive reveiws or even Amazon for your inability to read all about it before renting/buying this film.
This film is very brutal,it is very dark and it is one of the the most brilliant portrayals of the the period ever made...Errol Flynn films are fun but this is NOT an Errol Flynn film. Heck if you've seen Robocop you know how brutal Verhoeven can get!
This film is amazing I saw it ages ago and at first I also found the graphic parts a bit much then I sat down actually watched what was happening, it is a amazing story extremely well acted and brilliantly filmed.
Jennifer Jason Leigh may have a bigger name for herself now but this is still on of her best films to date. Hauer is always interesting in his films and this is a real gem for him.
So here is the deal if you do not like the brutal reality of "Ye Olden Days" do not see this film...but if you are intrigued to see a well acted and will filmed portrayal of the birth of the renaissance era and people who lived then and it is brutal, then see this film it is also really beautiful.
46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2006
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
One of the most outstanding performances in this film is that of Jason-Leigh, who plays Agnes. While Agnes grew up in a convent, unaware of the ways of the world, she's a damned fast study, and manages to pit Steven against Martin, Martin against Steven, and, finally, the remaining mercenaries against both. The character of Agnes would put any fantastic wicked queen to shame. She's regarded as a defenseless damsel, but, truth be told, she's probably the most lethal of the lot, having learned quickly what weapons were afforded her sex. In the end, she's had two men fight to kill for her, betrayed both horribly, and managed to walk away from the event exonerated and to a future of apparent happiness. The antics of Agnes are worth seeing this film for. Hauer, one of cinema's favorite villains, also turns in a stellar performance, however, and the whole historical setting of the film, from the superstition and ignorance mixed with religious fervor, Machiavellian politics, stunning late medieval architecture, and the exceptional swordplay lend this film a gritty reality that make it eminently watchable.
74 of 87 people found the following review helpful
As a longtime Rutger Hauer fan, I knew I would get around to watching Paul Verhoeven's medieval epic "Flesh + Blood" sooner or later. Thanks to DVD, it's sooner. True Hauer fans appreciate seeing him in anything, which is saying a lot considering the immense number of low budget schlock films he starred in over the last couple of decades. No matter how many times he plays a cranky cop embittered with the march of technology, or a fugitive on the run from justice, we diehards always refuse to change the channel. One reason I appreciate Hauer is that his performance is never anything less than wonderful even in the worst of films. Take a film like "Arctic Blue," for example. It plods with the speed of a snail caught in molasses, looks like the filmmakers used a chainsaw as an editing tool, and boasts a script riddled with cliches. O.k., it isn't that bad, but you get the idea. The only good thing in the entire film is this actor. That's the only reason to watch the film entitled "Arctic Blue." That's the power of Rutger Hauer--with a wave of his hand or a scowl on his face, he can turn a terrible film into something bearable. It's a gift few possess.
"Flesh + Blood" isn't a terrible film. It isn't, I hate to say, a great one either. Verhoeven's film begins by introducing us to a motley band of mercenaries waging war in the employ of a powerful nobleman. This wealthy figure promises the group, led by the charismatic Martin (Rutger Hauer), that he will allow them to loot the city as a reward for defeating the enemy. Sounds like a good idea, right? Lots of pillage and plunder always does a man's heart good. Martin--with Orbec (Bruno Kirby), Karsthans (Brion James), and several other ruffians--sets out to win the war. With the dubious help of the nobleman's inventor son Steven (Tom Burlinson), the fortified city falls in record time. But as Martin and the others attempt to reap their spoils, the nobleman changes his mind and uses his own soldiers to force the mercenaries out of town with nary a coin in their pockets. Although Steven expresses disbelief and disgust that his father would renege on the agreement, other issues soon arise that put the double cross far from his mind. The father arranges a marriage for his son with the beautiful Agnes (Jennifer Jason Leigh), the daughter of another wealthy aristocrat. If at this point you predict that Agnes, Steven, Martin and his band, and the father will have it out in the future, you would be right.
Martin and his band wander through the countryside until they find a statue of a saint buried in the mud. Never one to miss an opportunity to use religion for his own bloodthirsty purposes, Martin convinces the rest of the group that the icon possesses great power to foretell the gang's future. Anytime a compatriot expresses reservations about a proposed action, Martin points to the saint and claims divine sanction for his position as leader. Apparently, the saint approves of the abduction of Agnes and her subsequent defilement because that is exactly what happens. Agnes and Martin end up hitting it off, so much so that she becomes an unofficial member of the mercenary brigade. Steven, unaware that his beloved is in cahoots with a bunch of cutthroats, heads out with his myriad inventions and a force of men to reclaim the young noblewoman. The final segments of "Flesh + Blood" are as ridiculous as they are entertaining, with Steven building a contraption out of wood that can mechanically extend wooden ladders over high walls in order to gain entrance to the fortress where Martin and Agnes are hiding. There is also a rather grotesque scene in which some of Steven's men lob parts of a plague infected dog over the walls of the castle. As we all know, any film about the Middle Ages must involve the plague.
Where to start with this film? I don't know what Verhoeven was thinking when he came up with this offbeat "historical" epic. Should I mention the nun with the head wound who frequently lapses into seizures and gibberish? Or how Steven breaks his chains by channeling lightening? Perhaps I'll mention Agnes's and Steven's most romantic moment, a truly bizarre scene involving professions of love, mandrake roots, and a rotting body hanging from a tree. Of course, nothing stands out more in my mind than the mercenaries traveling around in covered wagons. You'd think they were about to head to Oregon or something. I'm probably being more sarcastic than I intended since I did enjoy the film; it's got plenty of bloody violence to spare, quite explicit situations involving Agnes and Martin, and a truly stirring musical score. "Flesh + Blood" also has an eyeful of Jennifer Jason Leigh, an actress of such talent and charisma that I could spend hours watching her doing laundry while clad in a T-shirt, sweat pants, and flip flops without getting bored. I guess my main problem with the film is that I expected it, for some inexplicable reason, to explore some deep themes. It doesn't. The film is nothing more than an action packed yarn and should be enjoyed as such.
"Flesh + Blood" has quite a reputation with fans who enjoy these types of things. They will probably enjoy the DVD release, which contains a commentary with Paul Verhoeven, a trailer, and a short featurette about creating the music for the film entitled "Composing Flesh + Blood." Verhoeven's little adventure tale is as accurate in its details of sixteenth century Europe as an undergraduate history report, but it is a lot of fun if you just empty your mind and accept it as two hours of pure entertainment.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on June 8, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
I can't recommend this film highly enough. Rutger Hauer plays soldier Martin, a mercenery in the employ of Count Arnolfini who lays siege to a fortified town somewhere in Europe 1520. He and his band are a motley crew including a deranged cardinal of the church who are betrayed by their former paymaster. The film is one of Paul Verhoeven's finest and quite gory but which is nevertheless lifted by moments of great hilarity as when 'the gang' adopt Saint Martin as their patron. All their subsequent 'decisions' are made on the basis of signs received from a statue of the saint that only the cardinal and soldier Martin seem able to comprehend. Add to this the appearance of Jennifer Jason Leigh as Agnes and Steven the count's son, and the story leads you on an adventure involving kidnapping, pillage and frequent killings. The soundtrack by Basil Poledouris who also composed the score for Conan The Barbarian, is simply breathtaking. In the composer's own words Martin is a noble character, despite the courseness his profession would seem to suggest. The music successfully evokes the sense of adventure and swashbuckle that are the hallmarks of a great story. Enjoy the film.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
'Flesh And Blood' was made in 1985, so get ready for a VERY young Jennifer Jason-Leigh as Agnes, a maiden of noble blood on her way to her fiancé. Nobleman Arnolfini (Fernando Hilbeck) has decided its time for his book-headed son, Stephen (Tom Burlinson), to wed.
So much for love, but on the war side, Arnolfini has used a rowdy band of commoners and mercenary peasants led by Martin (a very young Rutger Hauer) to clear his city of miscreants. The peasants present a problem in and of themselves, so Arnolfini reneges on his promise to them, refusing to pay them for their help.
Led by Martin and a mad priest, the band of peasants raid Arnolfini's caravan, wounding Arnolfini and unknowingly kidnapping young Agnes. As the peasants celebrate their spoils, Agnes is discovered hiding underneath a pile of clothing and is pulled out and raped. Yes, the rape scene is pretty graphic, but it actually blends with the movie. The surroundings of Flesh And Blood are not the pretty castles and noble knights and clean cities of LOTR. The women are prosties, course and vulgar, the speech is rough, the landscape mud and blood and hanged men.
Agnes, however, is a selfish girl, spoiled and used to getting her way. She manipulates Martin into choosing her over his wanton wench, so that he would keep her to himself and not share her around the group. At first reluctantly, and then with more vigor, she joins with the marauders as they raid and capture a castle.
Stephen finds he must pull his head out of his books and rescue Agnes, so he gathers and army to assault the castle the peasants have barricaded themselves in. Using engines and structures of his book's designs, he lays siege to the castle, including flinging corpses riddled with plague over the walls.
Agnes, it seems, is torn. Who should she back in this battle to the death? He betrothed nobleman? Or the wild mercenary who has shown her the pleasant things in life?
'Flesh And Blood' is gritty and visually real, though there are flaws in the film as well. Such as, the speed in which plague takes to infect and sicken a person, but its flaws do not detract from the overall enjoyment of the film. Especially if you like medieval type flicks.
There is violence, nudity, and blood, so this isn't an LOTR kind of movie made for kids. The supporting cast, especially Brion James, performs extremely well. The film has excellent cinematography, a good script, great acting, superb costume design, and lots of grittiness. Enough to keep this horror/fantasy girl quite happy. Definitely a 'Buy'. Enjoy!
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on December 27, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
This movie is such a pleasant surprise! Rutger Hauer is soooo handsome and sexy. As "Martin" he and his band of mercenaries roam the 'northern european' countryside (where is this supposed to actually be?) with a statue of St. Martin (Martin's patron saint) guiding them to their destiny--a castle with the plague awaiting them.
Agnes looks very much the part of the child princess bride. Some of this movie reminds me of the (in)famous "War Lord" with good 'ole Charleton H.--princess bride ravaged by the warrior--only in this one the bride isn't long suffering but actually has some fun with Martin too.
The war machines add to the plot but man did the director take liberties. How did the wood on the 'telescoping' ladder keep from burning? Did they have dynamite for the 'bomb' invention back then? And how would the Arab medical texts suggesting the plague swellings be cut open rather than bleeding the victim make it all the way up there?
The dialogue is so camp! At the most inappropriate times you find yourself laughing outloud--like at the end of the rape scene where Martin says: "I'm done, I hope you are". And the scene when Martin's first woman is having a baby and she says: "That hurts!"--an understatement if I ever heard one. The sexy bath scenes are very seductive--a mideaval hot tub, candles and all sorts of frolic.
The film is shot in SPAIN--Avila and other beautiful locations but the weather is not always all that sunny--the rain and mud--whew!
Loved this movie--you will too!
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on February 15, 2004
Flesh + Blood is by far one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen. Modern people allways want to gloss over the "icky" parts of living in the middle ages. Flesh + Blood does NOT.
The film is dark, and bloody. People do horrible things to each other. Plague and superstition are rampant. This film shows it all. The portrayal is not made pretty for the sensitive. Instead its made RAW for those who can handle it.
This is by FAR my favorite medieval film. If you want make believe, I'd recomend "A Knights Tale". If you want a very close look at live in the 15th century, then Flesh + Blood is it.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on August 18, 2001
Format: VHS TapeVerified Purchase
I saw this movie as a child, I believe I was 9. 10 years later, I still remembered it. It was hard to find it but after some "pain" I bought a used copy on Half.com. I was not disappointed. It is a realistic and an excellent portrayal of survival but survival is only a small part of it... Rutger Hauer is a soldier who in the world of brutality, bloodshed and sadism still managed to retain an unnecessary at that time part of himself, a soul; Paul Verhoeven is THE director capable of creating THE movie in the era of mediocrity and incompetence.
In a word, the movie is great but, unfortunately, unfairly ignored.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2008
In Western Europe in 1501, a noble betrays the mercenaries he hired to help him seize a castle. This leads to the mercenaries, led by Rutger Hauer, seeking revenge on the noble by killing his men and kidnapping the woman (Jennifer Jason Leigh) betrothed to his son (Tom Burlinson).
Probably due to the fact that this film is a Spanish/American/Dutch co-production, "Flesh + Blood" is not your typical Hollywood version of history, it's more the unwashed, disease-ridden version, where even the supposed heroes of the film aren't entirely good. "Flesh + Blood" was director Paul Verhoeven's first American movie, and as with his later movies (such as "Robocop", "Starship Troopers" and "Basic Instinct"), this film is filled with graphic sex, brutal violence and gratuitous nudity. Unlike these other films, however, which fit more closely to the Hollywood "violence is fun" mould, this film portrays these elements in a far more realistic and disturbing manner. In fact, the whole film seems to be trying to be realistic (give or take an anachronism or two), right down to the inclusion of the black plague into the storyline and the acknowledgement of what happens to young women who are kidnapped by mercenaries. For this reason, I hesitate to describe "Flesh + Blood" as an enjoyable film (I can imagine many people turning this film off within the first half-hour). Nevertheless, "Flesh + Blood" is a compelling film that is very different from any film that I have ever seen (the heroes of this film are a far cry from Errol Flynn in tights), and as a result, kept me watching, even through the more difficult scenes. What fascinated me the most was wondering who would actually "win" at the end of the day: the nobles, the mercenaries or the plague. Given that both the nobles and the mercenaries were capable of evil, it seemed that the film could go either way.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
You need a strong fortitude to make it through this movie on medieval warfare starring a still largely unknown Rutger Hauer (the cult favorite BLADE RUNNER at that time was still considered a failure in 1985) and Jennifer Jason Leigh (whatever happened to her). It's an entertaining movie if highly exploitative, that portrays the gruesome days of hand-to-hand swordmanship with the requisite amount of gore and bloodletting in addition to shots of severed limbs and people suffering from the bubonic plague.
The story centers on charismatic mercenary Martin and his followers (including WHEN HARRY MET SALLY's Bruno Kirby). After being promised the spoils of a castle if they help a King capture it they are betrayed by said ruler and banished from the land. Understandably a little miffed its not long before Martin is heading back to seek his revenge on the ruler and attain the riches which he feels his band was cheated of.
So Martin and friends ambush the king's carriage that is escorting the rulers son's bride Agnes (played by Leigh) back for a royal wedding. Leigh is one of Hollywood's most appealing actresses and here she is in one of her first roles really throwing caution to the wind, in addition to most of her clothes. It's not surprising that Hauer's character falls for her and intends to keep her for himself.
The son Steven (played excellently by Tom Burlinson) is an inventor of sorts and a lot of the needed humor (needed to lighten an otherwise dark and foreboding picture) comes from his sheer ingenuity and the dogged manner in which he continues his crusade to save Agnes.
Really one should know what to expect from a Paul Verhoeven directed movie. This was the same man who gave us the violent ROBOCOP, the twisted sexual thriller BASIC INSTINCT and the exploitative SHOWGIRLS. This movie is full of sex, nudity, gore and rape (perhaps the most disturbing one put to film since Susan George's scene in STRAW DOGS).
That's not to say this movie isn't entertaining. I had not planned to watch it all the way through in one sitting but 10 minutes in and I cpuld not turn my eyes away from the screen, it's a well crafted story that is both fascinating and yet repulsive in the same breath.