• Bloodstone (Arrow Video) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Arrow Video
    Released on: July 21st, 2020.
    Director: Dwight Little
    Cast: Brett Stimely, Rajinikanth, Anna Nicholas, Charlie Brill, Jack Kehler, Christopher Neame, Tej Sapru
    Year: 1988
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    Bloodstone – Movie Review:

    The titular Bloodstone of this 1988 film produced by Niko Mastoraksi and directed by Dwight Little, is a huge and immensely valuable ruby that is stolen and brought to India, which just so happens to be where American newlyweds Sandy McVey (Brett Stimely) and his lovely new bride Stephanie (Anna Nicholas) are honeymooning. Through an act of chance, they wind up with the gem, which brings them to the attention of the sinister Van Hoeven (Christopher Neame), a fence who will stop at nothing to get his hands on the stone. In order to do that, he has Stephanie kidnapped and held hostage to be exchanged safely for the ruby.

    Not one to take this laying down, Sandy finds an unlikely teammate in the form of Shyam Sabu (Rajinikanth), a crazy tough guy who makes a living as a cab driver. They work together to not only keep the Bloodstone out of Van Hoeven’s greedy paws, but to ensure that Stephanie is safely returned into the arms of the man who loves her, all while Inspector Ramesh (Charlie Brill) starts poking about to find what he can find relating to all of this.

    Very clearly influenced by massive box office success of Romancing The Stone and, to a lesser but still obvious extent, the Indiana Jones films, Bloodstone deserves its place in cult movie history for being Indian cinema megastar Rajinikanth’s English language film debut, and to be fair, the guy makes a massive impression in this picture and has more charisma on screen then all of his co-stars combined. In fact, it’s Rajinikanth’s presence in the film that makes it as entertaining as it is, because without him in it, this picture probably wouldn’t have made much of an impression. Stimely is perfectly fine as the western lead in the film. He’s not bad at all, he’s just a bit on the generic side. Anna Nicholas is a decent enough actress and she’s as pretty as a picture but again, a bit on the generic side. Neame does his best as the film’s heavy and he’s pretty good here, while Brill appears to be wearing some form of blackface for his part, though to be fair to him his performance isn’t bad.

    It’s the generic aspects of Bloodstone that are an issue. The film is entertaining enough. It has some good moments of effective humor and it features a couple of decent action scenes. The cinematography is pretty solid and it makes good use of the Indian locations. The movie benefits from a solid score and a pretty catchy theme song. The picture is paced pretty well. It isn’t that the film is boring, because it isn’t – it’s that the picture never reaches the same level of success as the films that it seems to want to emulate. Thankfully, Rajinikanth is there, front and center, to lend his inimitable screen presence to the proceedings, and the movie is all the better for it.

    Bloodstone – Blu-ray Review:

    Arrow Video brings Bloodstone to Blu-ray taking up just over 32GBs of space on a 50GB disc featuring an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 1.85.1 widescreen. There’s no stated source for the elements used for the transfer here but it generally looks really nice. Some scenes appear to have been shot a bit softer than others but overall, detail looks quite good. There isn’t much in the way of print damage to discuss, the image is clean from start to finish, but the expected amount of film grain remains intact. There’s no noticeable noise reduction or edge enhancement here and compression artifacts don’t pop up at all. Skin tones look good, colors are reproduced well – all in all, this looks pretty solid.

    Audio options are offered in 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and in 24-bit LPCM 2.0 tracks in English with optional subtitles provided in English and in Greek. Both tracks sound just fine. The 5.1 mix spreads out the score and effects into the rear channels but keeps the dialogue almost entirely upfront. The 2.0 track is the more authentic of the two, but they both feature properly balanced levels and a clean mix.

    Extra features start off with a new audio commentary by director Dwight Little, moderated by Michael Felsher, that was recorded on May 1st, 2020. Little provides an interesting rundown of how he got his start in the film industry working for Sandy Howard and what it was like working with him, some of the early pictures he worked on before moving on to bigger films like Halloween IV and Bloodstone, both of which were made in the same year. There’s lots of talk here about working with Mastorakis, setting up shop in Bangor and using locations within that area, what it was like working in India with a primarily western crew and the differences between the Indian and American film industries, how he got along with the cast and crew assembled for the production, the crowds that would show up to see Rajinikanth, the diversity of the Indian locations, the use of comedy in the film, what happened to the film in post, having to build the creaky wooden rope bridge seen later in the film, his own preferences in directing features versus television and plenty more.

    A second commentary features journalist and author Bryan Reesman that notes the film as Rajinikanth’s debut in an English language film, the influence of the Indiana Jones and Romancing The Stone films, the use of elephants in the film, background on the producers, who did what behind the scenes, where some of the different cast members also appeared, the impact of a strike on the production, different locations that were used in the shoot, what Rajinikanth is up to these days including starting his own political party, other projects that Little has been involved with, the creation of the PG-13 rating around this time and its importance to the American box office, the film’s connections to Octopussy, how a whole lot of people on the set got sick and loads more. He was able to interview Anna Nicholas and Jack Kehler as research for this track so he relays a lot of interesting stories that he heard from them during this talk.

    The first featurette on the disc is Keeping It To Myself, a ‘newly filmed selife interview’ with producer and co-writer Nico Mastorakis that runs for twenty-nine-minutes. Shot with an iPhone due to the Covid-19 situation, he speaks here about having to put together extras for this release while on lockdown, shooting the movie in India while at the same time making another movie (Glitch), how he became convinced to take on the project, meeting Dwight Little and bringing him on to direct the feature, auditioning the cast and crew during downtime, how selling his film Sky High to India helped get Bloodstone moving, the importance of the cast to the success of the film, using ‘western girls’ in a movie in India, the score, problems that arose on set and more. Ashok Amritraj pops up in this piece to talk briefly about the movie, there's also some behind the scenes footage and archival clips included in the featurette, including a lengthy selection of dailies and outtakes.

    The disc also includes a new video essay on Bloodstone’s star Rajinikanth by Indian cinema expert Josh Hurtado entitled From Bollywood To Bloodstone that clocks in at twenty-two-minutes in length. He speaks about how Rajinikanth may not look like a matinee idol yet remains on the biggest movie stars in the world. He defines Bollywood and explains the diversity of India for context, before then giving us details on Rajinikanth’s background and family, his obsessions with films, how he got into acting, how he developed a very recognizable acting style and move up the acting ladder in his home country, some of the key roles that he has played over the years (including a remake of Don that he made as Billa), the actor’s ability to bounce around between India’s different film industries and genres, the notable Hindi films that he made in the second half of his career, how and why Rajinikanth wound up being cast in Bloodstone, his signature moves and more. It’s a very well-researched piece that provides a whole lot of interesting background information on the actor.

    Rounding out the extras are the film’s original trailer, a 2020 re-release trailer, a still gallery, and for the BD-Rom equipped, the film’s original screenplay in PDF format.

    As Arrow has sent only a test disc for review, we can’t comment on any physical inserts or packaging specifics.

    Bloodstone – The Final Word Review:

    It’s hard to call Bloodstone a classic, but it’s a pretty entertaining time killer made more memorable than it should have been thanks to the presence of Rajinikanth. Arrow’s Blu-ray release of the film looks and sounds quite nice and features some pretty decent extras a well, they’ve done a nice job with the presentation.

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