(director/writer: Paul Verhoeven; screenwriter: story by Gerard Soeteman/Gerard Soeteman; cinematographer: Jan de Bont; editor: Ine Schenkkan; music: Basil Poledouris; cast: Rutger Hauer (Martin), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Agnes), Fernando Hillbeck (Arnolfini), Jack Tomson (Hawkwood), Tom Burlinson (Steven), Susan Tyrrell (Celine), Ronald Lacey (Cardinal); Runtime: 128; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Gys Versluys; MGM (Orion); 1985)

“Ugly drama about the troubles during the dark Middle Ages.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Dutch filmmaker Paul Verhoeven(“Black Book”/”Hollow Man”/”Showgirls”), in his first English film, directs this ugly drama about the troubles during the dark Middle Ages. Verhoeven co-writes with the story’s author Gerard Soeteman, omitting anything nice to say about religion, politics and society.

Lord Arnolfini (Fernando Hillbeck) returns to his castle after his ouster and then reneges on his word to pay the mercenaries, who helped him regain the castle. He also banishes them. The ragtag fighters and looters led by ex-soldier Martin (Rutger Hauer) seek revenge and return and kidnap Agnes (Jennifer Jason Leigh), the bride-to-be of the Lord’s scholarly son Steven (Tom Burlinson). The kidnapped woman begins to enjoy being overpowered by Martin.

All one can do is take in this unpleasant tale of betrayal with flinching. It covers such things as the plague, the stupidity of the characters and the violence of the 16th century. At least the battle scenes are impressive.

REVIEWED ON 5/1/2015 GRADE: B-   https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/