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Flesh & Blood (Flesh+Blood) (The Rose and the Sword) Reviews

Page 1 of 11
Phil H

Super Reviewer

March 8, 2014
Pretty creepy title for a historical film and one that doesn't exactly mean much if you ask me, although there is plenty of both onscreen so...I prefer 'The Rose and the Sword' which was its alternative title for a time. The story is apparently left over script from the Verhoeven directed Dutch TV series 'Floris' so one could almost say its the movie adaptation of that show.

Gotta be honest I thought this was a fantasy film as this is the first time I've ever seen it, so yes I got it wrong again. This is actually a historical 15th Century Italian period set...errrm hack n slash film? rescue film?...errrr wait, coup d'état film? black plague film?? oh geez. OK OK its a film which involves a lot of rape and pillage with the onset of the black plague and a bit of a rescue somewhere at the end...kinda.

The story revolves around a band of medieval mercs led by Rutger Hauer who were evicted from a city they had just helped siege. The owner of the city, and feudal Lord, promised them looting if they get his city back, but he lied. They get their own back by robbing the rich owner, generally killing his entourage and accidentally taking his sons bride to be. The mercs haul up inside a castle they overthrow and end up defending it from the Lord, his son and their troops.

So this being a Verhoeven film I'm sure you're expecting blood and guts...well as I said you get it. Its in no way as violent as other future films from the Dutch director but its most certainly much darker bleaker and more controversial. The main factors in this film which will shock are the out and out rape sequences of the young bride to be Jennifer Jason Leigh. The male members of the merc team take turns raping her in full view I kid you not, a most unsettling thing to watch I must admit. Not only this but the main character played by Hauer also rapes her but to soften the blow she pretends to enjoy it, this eventually leading to feelings for the character.

This opens up various quandaries for us the viewers as you don't know who you're suppose to be rooting for anymore. The city Lord is obviously untrustworthy because he betrayed the mercs in the first place. His son is also as ruthless as he is but he shows signs of devotion to Leigh's character, but surely Hauer's character is suppose to be the roguish dashing hero? well I guess not. He's certainly dashing in his elegant period set attire, much style and pomp in abundance with those blue eyes and blonde hair, but he kills, he rapes, he pillages and steals. It is indeed the Lords son and surprisingly the Lords honest respectable Commander that you end up getting behind, although it takes most of the film.

Throughout the film there are many slightly unsettling things that take place. One such seen is the birth of a baby to Hauer's character which died in the womb. He merely crams it into a small wooden barrel and they bury it without much thought or ceremony. Its a very harsh scene which is swept aside very quickly just as the characters do in the story. Another is the 'romantic' sequence between Leigh's bride and the Lords son. Only Verhoeven would think to set this kissing scene beneath the dangling rotting bodies of two hanged men. Yeah sure its in the countryside and very picturesque but wow! really? kinda odd.

The band of mercs are a truly disgusting bunch, they have little worries and merely go around killing robbing drinking and raping. The band is made up of a few males including Bruno Kirby and Brion James plus a few women too, one of which has her young son alongside her watching it all. I suppose it is based around semi facts, I don't know but I'm sure back in this era many things happened that today would be seen as horrendous. But back then life was cheap, many people were extremely poor, didn't know any better and didn't live very long anyway, not that that's an excuse really but times were very different.

This film confused me really, it felt very grotesque in places but almost like a fun swashbuckler in others. The use of modern day profanity didn't seem accurate to me and while the high level of nudity is typically Verhoeven, it does add to the realism but also feels a bit too much at times. Also some of the cast like Kirby didn't quite look right in this era and that big siege tower seemed ridiculous. How on earth did they build something that big and mechanically impressive so fast?!.

It all looks great visually and pretty realistic with some nice locations used. At the start Hauer looks badass with his rag bandanna and that sword he wields but alas his character doesn't retain that heroic badassery. Hauer's ragtag team of mercenaries repulse you and in the end you feel they get their comeuppance, including Hauer. The finale is worth the wait but don't expect too much. One thing is for sure, with all the visuals of nudity, plague and chopped up plague ridden dog meat, it will put off eating meat for awhile I reckon. Verhoeven knows how to grab your if you didn't already know.
Conner R

Super Reviewer

July 28, 2010
Part soft-core medieval porn and part extreme gorefest, this is an early trip into the dirty mind of Paul Verhoeven and it's actually very good. This felt a lot like The Seventh Seal, which I think is the best compliment you can give this movie. Rutger Hauer stars as the unstoppable mercenary Martin, who is immune to the plague and has zero morals. I absolutely love that he never has to really pay for any of his bad deeds. Jennifer Jason Leigh plays an almost equally entertaining character, a two-faced she devil who can't decide which side she's on (for some reason she also walks around naked all the time). This is a largely unseen classic and should be a happy surprise for fans of Robocop and Total Recall.
Dr Blood  

Super Reviewer

June 21, 2007
This was the first film I ever bought on VHS and I've lost count of the number of times I've watched it. Everything about this movie is first class and Rutger Hauer gives the most charismatic performance of his career. It's powerful stuff and I'm always surprised that so few people have even heard of it.

Super Reviewer

February 21, 2007
Blood, busoms, and Rutger Hauer. Sword and sandals type medieval epic is somewhat obvious but still fun.

Super Reviewer

December 14, 2006
Great dark doings in the Middle Ages with full startling, account of lust, savagery, revenge and betrayal.
Alec B

Super Reviewer

November 5, 2013
This is about as far from historically accurate as a period piece can get, but then that's not really the point. If you are willing to forgive the opening scenes, which are a bit awkward and clunky, the rest of the film is marvelous pulpy entertainment. Plus you get to see Rutger Hauer be a badass for two hours . . . if that doesn't sell you on it, I don't know what will.
December 29, 2009
Occasionally somewhat melodramatic and over the top in the acting, this medieval drama is surprisingly engaging, as it's hard to decide who the hell to really root for.

The mercenaries are the original wronged parties, betrayed by the Lord they'd worked for, but as they continue their raping and pillaging across the countryside it's hard to remain sympathetic to their cause at all.

An interesting watch to be sure, give it a rental.
October 17, 2009
In many ways, this is more medieval than many other movies. The davinci-esque war engine, the super black plague, are some of its faults. The fact that Rutger Hauer is either the villian or the hero depending on what side you take.
June 14, 2008
For some reason this movie creeped me out. I remember not caring for it, but it is forever stuck in my mind. So it almost qualifies as a non-fave favorite. I hate that.
February 6, 2008
I saw this a bazillion years ago, I remember that I was bored to tears, but that could have been cause I was angsty teen:)
May 26, 2007
Flesh + Blood is not a bad movie, but I was kind of left wondering why it's a story that someone felt needed telling. A little directionless and perhaps amoral, but enjoyable and helllllllo! Jennifer Jason Leigh.
May 13, 2007
Lavish and violent medieval wannabe epic that lack focus and a cohesive overall vision. Rutger Hauer is great as usual though, and Jennifer Jason Leigh seems to enjoy being in the nude, since that's her costume of choice for hall fthe movie.
November 1, 2006
This minor Paul Verhoeven classic has the three things I look for most in a film - self-flagellation, bubonic plague and full-frontal nudity.
April 26, 2014
Intrigante,Obsceno E Genial.Rutger Hauer É Incrível Nesse Filme.Paul Verhoeven Dirige Esse Ousado E Brilhante Filme
February 1, 2011
A directionless mess that feels like it actively avoids more interesting ideas as theyre presented in favour of some rambling, stumbling, awkward idea of story telling.... seriously Paul Verhoeven is famous for Total Recall and 3 boobs- he sucks 3 dicks for this one
chris p.
April 9, 2012
Another classic from Verhoeven. And I don't just mean a classic in Verhoeven's book, but a classic for movies period. Verhoeven is the most underrated director ever.
March 18, 2012
A dirty vivid ride through the glories and miseries of medieval warfare.
January 9, 2012
True to its title, this early film from director Paul Verhoeven is filled with enough sarcasm, swordplay, and sexual assaults to shake up even the most seasoned fan of 80's action films.
May 18, 2006
FLESH & BLOOD (1985)
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