He was a cop, but now he’s in textiles. And being an ‘80s action hero, Sandy McVey (Brett Stimely) is basically Indiana Jones because of it.
With all of its wonderfully phony action, Bloodstone does have some spunk to it. Bloodstone isn’t ashamed of being an adventure knock-off, specifically the “white people invade a foreign country” sub-genre popular in he ’80s. Think Romancing the Stone, among others.
In Bloodstone’s case, the setting is India, putting two newlyweds against a smug, corrupt Brit, certain to drudge up colonialism memories for an Indian audience. The pulp factor helps, proudly cornball and implausible, if at times grating too. Charlie Brill plays a local inspector in (basically) blackface, using an embarrassingly offensive accent while acting out a dire, clumsy comedy routine.
Harmless, though. That’s Bloodstone in short
Harmless, though. That’s Bloodstone in short
To some credit, this isn’t Stimely’s movie. Unlike a lot of these films, Stimely gets a sidekick, who’s less a bit part than genuine co-star. Tamil movie icon Rajinikanth seems like a wacky cabby at first, but is allowed to come into his own. He fights, he shoots, and he’s central to the story. You have to respect any cab driver who works with a bumper sticker of Stallone’s Cobra slapped on his car.
Dialog still dismisses India like a third-world country, demeaning their currency as practically worthless, but Rajinikanth’s presence adds slight balance. Bloodstone isn’t a case of Americans saving a country, but an uneasy alliance to benefit both. Plus, stock as the villain Van Hoeven (Chrisopher Naeme) is, at least Bloodstone gives a smidgen of historical context to his evilness.
Bloodstone’s core issue is its unexciting pace. Buddy cop quips and sarcasm lack the usual bite, feeling forced in to mimic the successful films it’s borrowing from. Actress Anna Nicholas does little other than act out a damsel role, some small zingers against her captors aside. A few entertaining flourishes butt against disjointed dialog and meandering story about chasing a rare ruby. It’s a thin excuse for action, and the twists don’t convey the shock the script wants them too.
Harmless, though. That’s Bloodstone in short. If there’s cause to watch, it’s Rajinikanth; he makes his screen charisma known. The location scenery doesn’t hurt either, even when showing tropes like rope bridges and rapids. It’s not much and graded on a curve, but at least Bloodstone makes an attempt – any attempt – to equalize the heroes rather than rely on gun-toting Americans.
Giving the Indian scenery a glow, Arrow’s Blu-ray release heightens the color to give these location shots a natural boost. Spot-on flesh tones appear amid bold primaries, saturated yet controlled. There’s no bleed, just copious color.
Black levels allow grain to seep in, an artifact of a lesser film stock, or possibly recording conditions. It’s not that shadows hit their deepest points, but they provide enough density to create some dimensionality. Under the Indian sun, there’s light aplenty, giving these images vigor.
Reasonable sharpness brings out reasonable detail. Not the highest resolution, but acceptable. Facial texture pops in close, with wide shots capturing India as it was in 1988. Arrow’s encoding handles all grain, plus the print doesn’t show any damage.
Between the DTS-HD 5.1 and PCM stereo tracks, take the latter. The 5.1 mix isn’t involving the rears for anything discrete other than swelling the score – too much so. The 2.0 track offers wide front soundstage separation, and even some low-end thumps from the music. Not only is the track clear, it carries range too.
Two commentaries. One comes from director Dwight Little, the other from journalist Bryan Reesman. Thanks to COVID, producer Nico Mastorakis appears in a “selfie interview,” mixed in with some outtakes to break things up. This runs 28-minutes. Indian film expert Josh Hurtado pens a 22-minute essay on Bloodstone and Rajinikanth. Trailers and an image gallery land as the finale.
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Bloodstone doesn’t avoid its genre tropes, but digs into them while at least attempting to break from foreign inequality.
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