Bloodstone Blu-ray Review: Indiana Jones and the B-Movie Knock-Off

Arrow Video continues to release HD versions of the film of Greek director/writer/producer Nico Mastorakis, and I am here for it. His films are the perfect blend of action, romance, horror, and ’80s cheese. For Bloodstone (1986), he’s credited as writer, producer, and editor. Directing duties were left to Dwight H. Little of Halloween IV: The Return of Michael Myers and Marked for Death fame. But it has Mastorakis signatures written all over it. Production values are good considering the budget, the acting generally bad, the script ridiculous, and the action is lame, but the location is exotic and the good times are just right. Just overlook the cultural stereotypes if not outright racism, OK?

The plot clearly comes from Mastorakis having watched Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom alongside Romancing the Stone and deciding he could do that type of film, easy. Sandy (Brett Stimley), the ex-cop turned textiles magnate due to his marriage to Stephanie (Anna Nicholas), are off on a honeymoon adventure in India. On the bus, they chum it up with Paul Lorre (Jack Kehler) who happens to have just stolen the titular bloodstone – the biggest, fakest-looking ruby ever to grace the motion pictures. Off the bus, Lorre spies a few cops, gets spooked, and slips the stone inside Stephanie’s bag. The lovebirds catch a cab driven by Shyam Sabu (Indian film superstar Rajinikanth, in his only American film). The stone falls out of the bag and into the trunk unbeknownst to everyone.

Meanwhile, Lorre is being tracked by Inspector Ramesh (New York actor Charlie Brill sporting the dandiest and most awful Indian accent ever put to film) and Ludwig Van Hoeven (Christopher Naeme), the international fence he was supposed to sell the bloodstone to. Van Hoeven figures out that Sandy and Stephanie have the stone and his goons kidnap Stephanie in order to offer an exchange. Trouble is, Sandy doesn’t have the stone (because it fell out in the trunk of the cab, remember?). Sabu has found the gem by this point but is hiding it. He’s befriended Sandy and when he decides to call the police, since he has no other option, Sabu produces the gem, willing to make the exchange for Stephanie’s life. Sandy, pissed that Sabu has been hiding the gem all this time, engages him in the dumbest hotel room fight to ever grace the silver screen.

To get to the meeting point, they take a shortcut down a river full of rapids and then cross a rickety rope bridge. The exchange is a setup, leading to another ill-coordinated fight scene. They beat up a guy to learn a secret passageway into the villain’s evil lair. They push through the jungle and into a cave. They face tigers, cobras, and more Indian stereotypes than you can shake a snake charmer at. The action is sprightly if not all that well coordinated. It all concludes in about the manner you expect from a low-budget, 1980s action flick, which is to say there is lots of shooting, a few explosions, and more than enough punching to get you through the day.

This could be a cult classic if the acting were up to snuff. As it is, our two leads, Stimley and Nicholas, are barely up to snuff’s ankles. Naeme does his best as a classic mustache-twirling villain, but Charlie Brill is doing something else altogether. The character is a bumbler, constantly falling down, doing pratfalls, and filling the space with as much physical comedy as he can muster, but his accent is plain weird. It has a high-pitched dandiness to it as if he’s playing a stereotypical 1980s homosexual, but mix that with a terrible Indian accent and what you get is not at all good. Rajinikanth is the only one who seems to know what he’s doing. He outshines everyone by a mile and a quarter, but that’s such a low bar it hardly even counts.

The thing about Nico Mastorakis that I love is that while none of his films could be considered good by any conceivable metric you might want to measure these things, they are quite fun. They remind me of my own youth when me and Dad would go to the video rental place when mom was away and find some big, dumb action film, or stupid horror flick. We knew they were bad, but we liked them anyway. Heck, I might have even watched one or two Mastorakis classics back then and have forgotten about it. With Arrow Video’s new release of Bloodstone, I’ll never have to forget about it again (though I might wish I could).

Arrow presents Bloodstone with a 1080p transfer and the original 2.0 Stereo PCM Uncompressed audio and 5.1 Surround audio options. Extras include a new audio commentary from Bryan Reesman, a new interview with Nico Mastorakis (filmed and edited by himself due to Covid) which is lots of fun, an image gallery, a copy of the script (through a BD-ROM), trailers, and the usual full-color booklet with an essay on the film

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Mat Brewster

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