Blu-ray Review: Flesh + Blood

Paul Verhoeven has built up a reputation for courting controversy and being prepared to challenge and shock his audiences. His willingness to mix violence, sex and social satire has resulted in some extremely memorable moments. Whilst his work has spanned several genres, it’s in science fiction where he’s left his greatest mark. Robocop, Total Recall and Starship Troopers are modern classics of the genre. In Flesh + Blood, the Dutchman dabbles in the realms of historic fantasy.

After his city is taken in a coup, Arnolfini (Fernando Hilbeck) promises a horde of hirelings 24-hours of looting privileges if they retake it for him. After they succeed, he reneges on his promise and banishes them. Delighted by his cunning, his next step is to marry-off his son Steven (Tom Burlinson) to the virginal Agnes (Jennifer Jason Leigh). On her journey to meet her future husband Agnes’ caravan is ambushed by some of the mercenaries, led by vicious Martin (Rutger Hauer). Whilst Agnes tries to inveigle herself within their band, Steven desperately attempts to rescue her.

Despite the meddling of studio executives, Verhoeven somehow manages to instil enough energy and creativity into Flesh + Blood to make it an enjoyable historical romp. This is remarkable given that the end result only bares a slight resemblance to the original script. Jessica Jason Leigh is thrown in as the love interest and certainly doesn’t hold back. Flesh + Blood fits neatly into the 1980s swords and sauciness action film sub-genre. Whilst it could have probably done with being a touch shorter, it’s an entertaining action adventure.

Special Features:

  • Limited Edition O-Card slipcase (first print run only)
  • 1080p presentation of the film on Blu-ray, with a progressive encode on the DVD.
  • Uncompressed LPCM audio (on the Blu-ray)
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Audio commentary by director Paul Verhoeven
  • VERHOEVEN VERSUS VERHOEVEN – The definitive documentary on director Paul Verhoeven from 2016, covering the entirety of his career. Features extensive interviews with the man himself. [Note: For legal reasons some archival film clips have had to be edited]
  • Paul Verhoeven in the Flesh (21 mins)
  • Audio interview with Rutger Hauer (24 mins)
  • Interview with screenwriter Gerard Soeteman (17 mins)
  • Interview with composer Basil Poledoris (12 mins)
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • A collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film (first pressing only)

Flesh + Blood is released on dual format DVD and Blu-ray by Eureka Classics on 6 August.

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