Dwight H. Little’s 1988 action comedy adventure, Bloodstone, stands amply among any cadre of 80s action titles you can put together. Aside from it’s campy and cheesy allure, it’s precisely the kind you would expect from the Cannon era – this one being from Omega Entertainment and hailing as an Indian-American production.
To boot, it marks the only production of its kind for Indian actor Rajinikanth, who was already twelve years into his craft, and having learned several languages. For this, language barriers fall short for his role in Blood Stone, coupled with leading duo Brett Stimely and Anna Nichols, and a line-up of oddball characters fresh from a Golan-Globus vehicle.
Bloodstone carries its narrative from 13th century India to present day, introducing ex-cop-turned-textiles family business heir, Sandy (Stimely) and wife, Stephanie (Nichols), freshly arrived on their workacation in the region. A man named Paul Lorre (Jack Kehler), boards the train and breaks the ice over work, life, and a newspaper report about a missing ruby in London.
The three arrive to their destination, but not before Lorre slips them a mysterious object, only to get whisked away by sniveling Inspector Ramesh (Charlie Brill). Their arrival finds them in the expedient company of Shyam (Rajinikanth), a road-savvy “man of all trades” working as a cab driver.
The men chasing the trio are henchmen working for Van Hoeven (Christopher Neame), a rich crime boss whose sole purpose is to acquire the missing ruby that was intended for delivery by Lorre. With the stone missing, and in tow, the dogged, oddball Ramesh who is also in pursuit of the ruby, it’s not long before Stephanie is kidnapped, and a chance reunion between Sandy and Shyam find the two reluctantly partnered to help find Stephanie in exchange for the elusive jewel.
Bloodstone flows with a kinetic storyline, and with lots of moving pieces to keep things interesting. Stimely is well suited as an 80s leading man for his first feature film, but its Rajinikanth who steals the show nearly every which way. His filmic delivery is accentuated by his on-screen charisma which is simply second nature, and conveys exactly why he’s the star he’s become to this day.
Neame’s cartoonish villain in Van Hoeven brings exactly the kind of over-the-top flair with a man who surrounds himself with beautiful, bikini-clad (and even topless) women. Further on the antagonistic end is Brill’s portrayal as the vexatious Ramesh, who speaks ardently to the avid moviegoer familiar with G.W. Bailey’s Lt. Harris in Police Academy.
The production design provides an epic scope for the story, using various village and jungle locales for the story. The fight scenes are mostly rubbish, but are also what you would expect as a prominently Western production for its time with lead actors who could do worse on screenfighting. The film’s depth and scope, however, serve nicely as a warm welcome to viewers readily relaxing their brain cells just to enjoy a ninety-minute good time.
It’s especially a treat for those who may or may not be new to Rajinikanth, who became a viral video sensation when clips of his 2010 sci-fi action hit, Enthiran, began making the rounds on social media, otherwise planting a seed that would ultimately help proliferate the Indian film industry. There are definitely folks who specialize in this field as well, including Josh Hurtado at Screen Anarchy, or even Jaby Koay on YouTube, for anyone looking to take notes or study the niche a lot more closely, so following them would be highly recommended.
As for Blood Stone, you can especially thank the good folks over at Arrow Video for including the title in its library. Long before its director would take the reigns for more action-packed pursuits like Rapid Fire, Murder At 1600 and even the workaday adaptation of Tekken, Blood Stone is a noteworthy watch for the nostalgic moviegoer, and even moreso, a valuable jewel for those just discovering one of India’s biggest and beloved on-screen baddesses for nearly four decades and counting.