Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Blood of Heroes(1989)

Blood of Heroes is a small scale gem that is completely under the radar for most people. Made under the title Salute of the Jugger, the title was changed, so I’ve been told, because the jugger reference in the title would mean nothing to anyone who didn’t see the film. Having seen the film in a largely empty theater when it played in 1989, something else could have been done to put butts in seats. Thankfully the film has developed a small but loyal fan base over the years and I’m occasionally amused when someone will suggest a sequel.

The film is set in a post-apocalyptic time. Much of the world are small settlements scattered across the wastelands. In one small village comes a team of juggers, players of a game that is like football or rugby but involves scoring by putting a dogs skull on a spike. Their leader is a banged up veteran played by Rutger Hauer. If the players win they get food and lodging, if they lose they move on. When the team leaves they end up taking a young girl, Joan Chen, with them. They are heading for one of the Nine Cities and a shot at fame and fortune. The film follows the team as they make their way into one of the cities and take part in one of the “big” games.

A gritty realistic film the film scores in a couple of places. First the action sequences are dynamite. Sure the game is something we don’t know anything about but we know enough to know that it is a tough, brutal game that has consequences. The damage wrought by it is written over everyone’s bodies. We also see the toll as injuries whittle the number of players down. Should the world end and society fall its very possible that a game like this will spring up.

The other reason the film works is the characters. We like our heroes. They are a tight knit bunch that we instantly like and learn to love. Everyone is given small moments to shine. The script also gives us moments that ring wonderfully true such as the oft mentioned attempted sex scenes between Hauer and Chen after both have been beaten up in a match and their lovemaking in interrupted by ouches as the tender caresses run into bruised flesh. I hate that I’m mentioning a scene that everyone seems to focus on, but it’s something that anyone who has ever been hurt in a game or by life has experienced with their significant others.

I really like the film a great deal and to be perfectly honest I don’t watch it enough. ..

..that said I will be watching it again very soon because I’ve recently gotten my hands on the complete version (the US version is about 10 minutes shorter than other versions) and I’m going to be watching it again for the first time.

(I would have held off reviewing the film, but today is my brothers birthday and he has been asking when I was going to write up the film, so I figured today was as good as any day to write it up.)

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