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Flesh + Blood 1985 ***

With Paul Verhoeven at the film, flesh and blood are onscreen in copious quantities in this impressively serious minded barbarian movie. The Dutch director’s first English language film reunites him for the fifth time with star Rutger Hauer,  as mercenary Martin who takes refuge in a medieval stronghold in Europe circa 1501. Jennifer Jason Leigh is the princess that Martin has designs on, with the director pulling no punches about how she uses her sexuality to survive. Flesh + Blood had a notoriously difficult production, with Verhoeven and Hauer never working again together, and the details of plague, disease and sickness gives the production an unusually realistic feel. But given that Verhoeven’s headed for Hollywood and Robocop the day after the film was completed, it’s clearly the work of a major talent with technical skill and attitude to burn.

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