Newest Reviews
Nest, The
Martin Eden
Halloween Kills
Sun Shines Bright, The
Last Thing Mary Saw, The
Mon Oncle d'Amerique
Wild Strawberries
Runner, The
Don't Look Up
Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Forever Purge, The
Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Legend of La Llorona, The
Perdita Durango
Commando, The
Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror
Boiling Point
Deadly Games
Voyeurs, The
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
In the Earth
Hiroshima Mon Amour
Hotel Poseidon
No Time to Die
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Power of the Dog, The
Voyage of Time: An IMAX Documentary
Newest Articles
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
Vestron Double Bill: Dementia 13 and The Wraith
Farewell Dean Stockwell: His Years of Weirdness
Kung Fu Craft: Cinematic Vengeance! on Blu-ray
999 Letsbe Avenue: Gideon's Way on Blu-ray
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
  Flesh + Blood In God They Trust
Year: 1985
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Stars: Rutger Hauer, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Burlinson, Jack Thompson, Fernando Hilbeck, Susan Tyrrell, Ronald Lacey, Brion James, John Dennis Johnston, Simón Andreu, Bruno Kirby, Kitty Courbois, Marina Saura, Hans Veerman, Jake Wood, Nancy Cartwright
Genre: Historical, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: The year is 1501, the place Western Europe, and the army of Arnolfini (Fernando Hilbeck), swelled by mercenaries in their ranks, is preparing to take back his stolen castle. The cardinal (Ronald Lacey) is offering them holy communion so that they may go straight to heaven if they die, but their leader is impatient and wishes to storm the walls now. One of the mercenaries, Martin (Rutger Hauer), grabs a mouthful of wafers and demands he be blessed as quickly as possible, then rushes off to do his duty as Arnolfini's son Steven (Tom Burlinson) shows off a new explosive invention. Little do Steven and Martin know they will soon be pitted against each other...

Flesh + Blood was director Paul Verhoeven's first English language movie, finally making the move to Hollywood after being courted for a few years, even if the project was shot in Europe, using an international cast, and notably far more extreme than much that had come out of America as far as films went this decade. For a Verhoeven movie, it was about average as far as sex and violence went, but this did not stop him falling foul of the censors and the work was not widely seen, particularly in the States, at the time it was released. Nevertheless, among those who did see it were a cult following attracted by the director's reputation, and those who simply loved all the unabashed mayhem.

In its way this was the eighties equivalent of those lusty romps of the previous decades, mostly the fifties where costume melodramas were in vogue, so if you wanted to see what The Vikings would have been like if directed by Verhoeven, this was the closest you were going to get. The difference being, the blood spilt in those earlier efforts was far from ladelled on, and there certainly was not the amount of nudity and sexual scenes in them that there was here. But there was more to this than sheer sensationalism, because as usual the director had something to say about society, and most apparent in this case religion as well, so the characters here believe they are under the will of God.

However, they do not act in a holy fashion, as even the cardinal has a go at running people through with a sword as he is confident he has the Almighty on his side who will absolve him of any sins. Yet if there's one thing that they should have all learned, it's not to guess what their Lord above is thinking, and their presumptuous nature when it comes to their spiritual beliefs is their downfall. What happens is that after the mercenaries have assisted in taking back the castle, Arnolfini goes back on his promise to allow them a share of the spoils, and forces them away with his army. There's not much they can do but go along with this, but as fate would have it one band led by Martin, while taking shelter from a storm, uncover a statue of a saint - Saint Martin, as it turns out.

The cardinal is sure this is a sign from on high, and the rest of the film sees them carrying out some appalling behaviour, from rape and murder to terrible table manners, in the faith that they are on a mission from God. The holy man tells them that Martin will soon find a fortune and share it with them, so the next thing they do is attack a caravan that just so happens to contain Steven's new fiancée, Agnes (Jennifer Jason Leigh, most impressing Rutger Hauer who called her one of the finest actresses he had ever worked with). One burst of chaos later and Agnes has been kidnapped, but she is not your usual victim and works out quickly how to use her womanly wiles to ensure her survival, even becoming Martin's lover although she has promised herself to Steven.

So in effect a love triangle develops, as Martin is obviously very impressed with his new girlfriend, not quite cottoning on that she is not entirely on his side but is making the best of dire circumstances, and Steven doing his best, what with all his newfangled inventions, to win her back. It ends up as a siege in the second half, where Martin and his unlovely band hold a castle they have invaded against Steven's army, and the ideas for killing opponents simply get nastier - plague-ridden dog in the water supply, anyone? There are those who may balk at the depiction of the characters here, but Verhoeven and co-screenwriter Gerard Soetman evidently are using the excuse that it was a different era to ours and people had values that were more primitive, although what you are presumably supposed to mull over is their sobering similarities to us. Arresting, disgusting and full-blooded, this is a film that stands on its own amongst its kind. Music by Basil Poledouris.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 4944 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


Paul Verhoeven  (1938 - )

Dutch director who is no stranger to controversy. He became famous in his homeland for violent, sexually frank films such as Turkish Delight, Soldier of Orange (a fine war epic), Spetters and The Fourth Man, after which he moved to Hollywood.

His first American movie, Flesh + Blood, showed he meant to continue as he started, and he was rewarded with the huge hit RoboCop. This began a line of lurid science fiction adventures such as Total Recall, Starship Troopers and Hollow Man, but his sexually-themed Basic Instinct and Showgirls were equally uncompromising.

Verhoeven's sharp sense of humour tempers his over-the-top style, but he frequently sails too close to being ridiculous for many to take him seriously. The war drama Black Book, filmed in his native Holland, raised his standing once more, and his black comedy thriller Elle won great acclaim for star Isabelle Huppert.

Review Comments (1)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt


Last Updated: