The Time Will Come When Winning Is Everything.
Starring: Rutger Hauer, Joan Chen, Vincent D’Onofrio, Delroy Lindo
Director: David Webb Peoples
1989 | 90 Minutes | Rated R
“This is stupid. We should be fucking and drinking by now.” – Sallow
I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic movies. This probably isn’t the first (or last) time I have said this here but I love ‘em. The Blood of Heroes combines the post-apocalyptic genre with the sports movie genre. Post-apocalyptic semi-professional sports seems like a match made in Hardcore Heaven.
In a post-apocalyptic world, the blood sport of jugging is the main entertainment and a ragged band of semi-pros led by a former pro, Sallow (Rutger Hauer), and with a new female player in tow, aims to compete against the elite teams.
Essentially jugging is a sport where a couple guys beat the shit out of each other with American Gladiator clubs and chains while one person tries to get across the gravel field to put a dog skull on a stick. Game over. One dog head on a stick and you win the game. And you thought people said that MMA was barbaric.
With absolutely zero investment in the sport of jugging or the characters the action managed to get me all the way to the edge of my seat even though I didn’t really understand the “sport” – something the NBA has never managed to do. The main problem is that the camera is often too close to the action to fully understand or appreciate what is going on. Imagine if the camera man was part of the offensive line in the NFL. Probably not the best idea.
There really isn’t much of a back story, no explanation of why the world is the way it is or why the jugging game is played the way it is played. It is actually for the better though because you are just forced to accept things the way they are.
The actors all do their part in playing it straight (always the best policy in my opinion). Rutger Hauer is 100% believable as the grizzled veteran player who almost made it big long ago. There were many shots of his scarred face that looked as if they had been painted by Drew Struzan or some other poster artist.
Apparently there are some nerds somewhere who have actually created jugging leagues and tournaments, albeit a much safer and padded version of it. YouTube it. I enjoyed watching but The Blood of Heroes clearly captured their imaginations more than it did mine.