India, 1221, the funeral pyre of the beloved Princess Lafla, crown is lifted up for the mourning crowds to see, at its apex the ruby said to contain within it the power of good and the curse of evil, a priceless gem whose subsequent history has seen it stolen many times, the most recent reported in the Indian Mail of January 1988: “Bloodstone of India swiped – world’s largest ruby vanishes.”

On a trip to Bangalore combining business and pleasure, newlyweds Sandy and Stephanie McVey have more important things to worry about until they share a train carriage with the shifty Paul Lorre, courier of the stolen Bloodstone who suspects he is being followed: his solution, to place the gem in Stephanie’s sports bag and retrieve it later from their hotel.

With the henchmen of the ruthless crime boss Ludwig Van Hoeven closing in, it is a plan which will place Sandy and Stephanie in danger yet bear no fruit, for the Bloodstone is missing again, having fallen out in the back of the taxi which took them from the station; fortunately, for them and for driver Shyam Sabu, in India everyone is family…

An action adventure romance written by The Wind’s Nico Mastorakis and directed by Halloween 4’s Dwight H Little, the presence of the cursed Bloodstone makes a little budget go a long way, possibly just as well as the awkward logistics of the location shooting in and around the city of Bangalore caused the production to vastly overrun the planned timescale.

With Anne Nicholas and Brett Stimely as Stephanie and former cop Sandy, the latter dubbed by David Soul, it is the supporting cast of Bloodstone who are perhaps more familiar, Tamil superstar Rajinikanth making his English language debut as the resourceful Shyam, Secret Army’s Christopher Neame haughty as budget Bond villain Van Hoeven and The Man in the High Castle‘s Jack Kehler as the crafty but cowardly Lorre.

Most curious is The Trouble with Tribble’s Charlie Brill as Inspector Ramesh, attempting the pratfalls of Peter Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau in the brownface of The Party, but while the whole comes across as Romancing the Stone largely absent the wit, charm or charismatic leads which made that so enjoyable it is in the superb locations that Bloodstone identifies itself.

A wilderness of rivers, ravines, waterfalls and sunsets, of palaces and dungeons, of city streets packed equally with populace and beasts of burden around which the speeding cars dodge, even shot with a pedestrian eye rather than a suitable sense of awe Bloodstone is a curious cross-pollination of American and Indian actions genres with which to pass an afternoon.

Released on Blu-ray by Arrow, on his commentary director Dwight H Little states that other than the disappointing titular plastic prop he has never seen Bloodstone looking so good as he recalls the adventure of shooting in a production capital with no culture of silence on set, while Nico Mastorakis’ self-recorded interview is as typically entertaining as would be expected of the garrulous veteran.

Bloodstone is available on Blu-ray from Arrow Films from Monday 20th July



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