In the 1980s, there was a specific hole in the market that needed to be filled with mindless adventure movies. Cable channels were on the hunt for programming that ran right around an hour and a half, and the burgeoning video rental market just needed films with a snazzy enough description that they could convince the average Joe to fork over their dough to check it out. Enter in Bloodstone, an adventure tale that coasted right in the tailwind of films such as Romancing The Stone to reach the audience that it did. The main thing the film had going for it was its Indian setting and supporting cast members, which was enough to secure it a theatrical release in that region of the world. While a B-movie through and through, Arrow Films has revived this film for modern audiences to appreciate for the cheesefest that it is content to be.
The titular Bloodstone is introduced in flashback in 12th Century India where a young Princess Lafla has tragically lost her life. In her honor, and so we have a plot, a grand ruby is bestowed with her blood which will cause the stone to bring good to those with pure hearts and misfortune to those with evil intent. Fast forward to the present day where a crooked thief, Paul Lorre (Jack Kehler), has recently stolen the stone from a museum and has hopped a train in India to meet his fence. On the train, he meets Sandy (Brett Stimely) and Stephanie McVey (Anna Nicholas), a newly married American couple with whom he strikes up a quick conversation. Keenly aware that the authorities are likely closing in on him, he quietly stashes the stone in their luggage until he can retrieve it later. While on the way to their hotel, the stone falls out in the trunk of their hyped-up, eccentric taxi driver Shyam Sabu (Rajinikanth). What follows is baffling tale of Bloodstone hot potato as various interested parties zero in on the valuable gem, including a full-scale assault and kidnapping of Stephanie by the curiously subdued evil international fence Ludwig Van Hoeven (Christopher Neame).
This is a film that knows exactly what it is and does not attempt to be more than that. It is a bit nonsensical with plot developments and is over the top pretty consistently. This is acceptable when all of the cheesy elements are working together in tandem to bring the best version of the B-movie experience. Unfortunately, our main newlywed leads are not quite to the level of being “fun” bad in their roles. Brett Stimely is a bit of a snore as Sandy, and Anna Nicholas is barely given anything to do besides spout off the occasional pithy one liner. And, while technically better in his role, the character of the bumbling Inspector Ramesh is played in Brown-Face by American actor Charlie Brill, which is tough to watch. The action scenes are actually pretty well staged, with one sick car crash in the first part of the film being particularly impressive. The film does not lack in adventure, so if finding a mindless movie with varying bits of actions is your goal, this might be a good investment of your time.
The one thing that should especially be praised in this film is the decision to shoot in India with some famous Indian actors in major roles. The cinematography is truly stunning and exciting to see with the bustling cities and unique architecture. Casting Rajinikanth in his first English-language film was a great choice, as he steals the film away from everyone else. He may be just as over the top as everyone else, but he actually brings an immense amount of chaotic energy to his performance that makes him interesting to watch. With Rajinikanth being such a strong presence in the film, the decision to cast Charlie Brill as an Indian character is all the more confusing. By the end of the film, you will find that most of the plot points did not really make a lot of sense or even enter into the fate of the story at all. It is mentioned that Sandy used to be a policeman, but he never showcases any skills that would make us believe that in the slightest. Bloodstone was made in hopes of turning a quick profit from content hungry entities and undiscerning audiences. The Indian setting elevates the film ever so slightly above other B-titles, but it nonetheless will most likely only be appreciated by die-hard fans of cheesy adventure films.
This new Blu-Ray from Arrow Video rescues Bloodstone from obscurity with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.85:1, newly restored by Arrow from the original 35mm interpositive scanned in 2K resolution. As the director notes in the commentary, the film has never look as clear and vibrant as it does here. The film has pretty solid grain structure that preserves the filmic look of the picture, showcasing subtle details in the Indian locale. There are a few instances where the grain field becomes a bit heavier than normal, but these moments are few and far between. Skin tones look natural, even when caked on with grit and grime gathered from the adventure. Colors pop off the screen nicely, especially in the bright reds of the bloodstone. Black levels hold up pretty well with some admirable depth to the image. This is not a title that would immediately spring to mind when thinking of necessary high definition presentations, but Arrow has lovingly given this film a new life.
This Blu-Ray comes with DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and LPCM 2.0 tracks that open up this journey in a pretty grand way sonically. The bustling sounds of India creep through the surrounds to provide some excellent ambient details. All of the various sounds in the mix seem accurately placed so that nothing ever feels off. Some of the actors had their dialogue replaced in post-production so there are some minor instances of noticeable looping, but it is handled better than I have seen in other productions. The sound of the dialogue itself comes through crystal clear without being crushed by the sound effects or score. The soundtrack is definitely a product of the time, but it sounds quite good in this presentation.
- Commentary By Dwight Little: Host Michael Felsher from Red Shirt Pictures conducts an interview with director Dwight Little where he recalls how the film was developed, how this film led him to directing Halloween 4, working with non-SAG actors, filming in India, disappointment in the Bloodstone prop, safety concerns on set and many more interesting anecdotes. Felsher coaxes out many cool tidbits out of Little, which makes this a very interesting listen.
- Commentary By Bryan Reesman: Entertainment journalist Bryan Reesman gives a meticulously detailed dissertation on the movie with so much background information, historical context and second-hand anecdotes from cast members. Reesman barely takes a moment to breathe, so every moment is packed with relevant information.
- Keepin’ It To Myself: Producer/Co-writer Nico Mastorakis filmed a selfie-interview during quarantine in which he discusses various aspects of the production including the differences between American and Indian crews, replacing dialogue for certain actors through voiceover, his concurrent work on another 80s cheesefest, Glitch!, and more. Due to filming limitations during the pandemic, there is an apology card before the interview commenting on the not exactly pristine audio quality.
- From Bollywood To Bloodstone: A 22-minute audio interview with Josh Hurtado about Rajinikanth, which is back by stills of the actor. This is an incredibly detailed deep-dive into the career to this Indian superstar, who may be unfamiliar to western audiences.
- Original Theatrical Trailer: A cheesy three-minute trailer that shows off most of the money shots from the film, but gets across the tone pretty well.
- 2020 Reissue Trailer: A two-minute trailer that dials back the cheese, but still shows a good representation of the film.
- Image Gallery: Various still images from the film are presented here in high definition.
Bloodstone is the very definition of a cheesy 80s adventure film. The plot is of little to no importance to the actual film, but action sequences are well structured and the Indian location brings something new to the proceedings. Arrow Video has graced this film with a wonderful A/V presentation and some fairly in-depth special features. Those with an extreme love for 80s adventure movies now have a shiny new discs that is more comprehensive than they ever could have dreamed.
Bloodstone is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Arrow Video has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.