The Blood of Heroes (1989)

About the Author: Paul Andolina is back to share a sports-related end of the world movie with us. If you like his stuff, check out his site Wrestling with Film

I’ve never been super into sports as entertainment but I have recently got into football. Not liking sports, however, has not stopped me from liking movies with made up sports in them. In fact The Blood of Heroes is my absolute favorite sports movies and if you count movies that are centered around professional wrestling I have seen quite a few.

The Blood of Heroes, or as it is known internationally as The Salute of the Jugger, is a post-apocalyptic film about a fictional sport that incorporates placing a dog skull on a pole, weapons, and hard hitting action. It was released in 1989 and it stars the late Rutger Hauer, Joan Chen, a young Vincent D’Onofrio and Hugh Keays-Byrne who not only played Toe Cutter in Mad Max but also Immortan Joe in Fury Road.

I cannot explain the movie very well despite seeing it twice within the past 24 hours. There are two cuts: a shorter R-rated cut that was released in the states and a 13-minute longer version that saw play internationally. On the Bluray I own — which is a region A copy from Japan — there are both versions. The R-rated cut is a remastered version and it is the most beautiful version of the film I have ever seen visually. The colors are nice and the picture is so much clearer than the copies I remember renting constantly. I prefer the longer cut because I feel the ending makes a bit more sense than the one we are given in the rated cut.

Sallow (Rutger Hauer) is a slash for a traveling band of juggers who go from dog town to dog town entertaining their denizens of dirty, desolate citizens. Juggers are treated very well in these towns and eat well and drink well despite their surroundings. Kidda (Joan Chen) is a young lady who wishes to play the game and she gets her chance when the local team looses their qwik (the player who wrestles for the dog skull and races through the field to place it on the stake) after a particularly brutal round of the game.

She royally messes up Sallow’s qwik Dog Boy to the point where he cannot even stand. Kidda takes his place and the crew continues to travel town to town until they decide to get the attention of the league in the Nine Cities, an underground dwelling full of the richest most powerful folks in the wasteland. Sallow used to play for the league until he disgraced some lady by being in a public relationship with her.

I don’t know what else to say about this film other than I think everyone should watch it at least once. It is such an unique film in the post-apocalyptic genre since it focuses so heavily on something other than daily survival in a wasteland. The movie can be streamed on Amazon Prime but the cut presented isn’t the best; however it is worth watching still. If you can track down a region 4 DVD copy for cheap enough, it is worth a pick up. But if you are willing to splurge, the Japanese blu-ray is an amazing piece to own. 

SAM’S NOTE: It’s also free on Tubi and Vudu.

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