The Blood of Heroes (Salute of the Jugger) is a dystopian science fiction movie that was released in 1988. Written and directed by David Webb Peoples, it starred Rutger Hauer, Delroy Lindo, Vincent D'Onofrio and Joan Chen. It was an interesting vision of the future, but faded into obscurity rather rapidly despite more than adequate direction and writing.

The film takes place in the future where, following some apocalypse, humans gather in to small villages and some larger underground cities. There is no concept of greater society, law enforcement or loyalty to anyone other than your immediate neighbours. The only people who appear to travel between villages and cities are 'Juggers'. These modern warriors play a brutal sport similar to American football, with six players to a side. On each team, there is only one player (the Quick) who can touch the 'ball', which is replaced with a dog's skull. The rules are simple; the first Quick to plant the dog's skull on the opposing team's spike wins. The other five players per team are armed with polearms and other assorted medeival weapons (nets, hooks, spears etc) and simultaneously attack the other team and defend their Quick.

The plot of the movie is definitely secondary to the costuming, cinematography and especially the action sequences, but it was consistent. Hauer's character, Sallow, was a professional Jugger in one of the major underground cities, but was thrown out in to the wastelands because he fell in love with a married aristocrat. Chen's character challenges Hauer to face his demons and take his team to the city in the hopes of earning a position in the professional ranks (and thus some stability and security). The climactic scene features Hauer's team battling the elite of the city for a permanent position among the ranks of the wealthy.

While the acting was excellent, this movie is far more impressive during the scenes featuring the sport than when dealing with the actual plot. Unlike nearly all sports and combat movies I have seen, the brutality of a blow or maneuver is clearly displayed on the recipient's face and body; when you get struck with an iron bar in this movie, at least, you go down and you stay down. Wounds don't heal miraculously, and people get crippled just like in (shock!) real life. A refreshing change for the genre.

Here's a thorough list of credits and other assorted details:

Produced by Brian Rosen and Charles Rosen
Score by David Eggby
Production companies: Handistom Investment, Kamisha Corporation and Kings Road Entertainment

  • Rutger Hauer -- Sallow
  • Delroy Lindo -- Mbulu
  • Anna Katerina -- Big Cimber
  • Vincent D'Onofrio -- Young Gar
  • Gandhi MacIntyre -- Gandhi
  • Justin Monjo -- Dog Boy
  • Aaron Martin -- Samchin Boy
  • Joan Chen -- Kidda
  • Casey Huang -- Kidda's Father
  • Quang Dinh -- Samchin Head Elder
  • John Doumtsis -- Samchin Timekeeper
  • John Biro -- Samchin Peasant #1
  • Brian Cawley -- Samchin Peasant #2
  • Gino Terranova -- Samchin Peasant #3
  • Cecilia Wong -- Kidda's Mother
  • David Bookalil -- Enforcement Officer #1
  • John Samaha -- Enforcement Officer #2
  • Honie Robinson -- Kolkan Blond Daughter
  • Max Fairchild -- Gonzo
  • Hugh Keays-Byrne -- Lord Vlle
  • Lia Francisa -- Mara
  • Richard Norton -- Bone
  • Basil Clarke -- Red City Overlord
  • Jack Clayborne -- Red City Juggermaster
  • Dale Brown -- Caillat
  • Doug Mealing -- Red City Timekeeper
  • Adam Zammitt -- Red City Street Urchin
  • Greg Jordan -- New Qwik
  • Frank Coorey -- Samchin Jugger
  • James Webb -- Samchin Jugger
  • Steve Rackman -- Samchin Jugger
  • Don Vaughn -- Samchin Jugger
  • Stephen Stauber -- Samchin Jugger
  • Kerryn Jackson Hyming -- Kolkan Jugger
  • Warren Shellbach -- Kolkan Jugger
  • Lee Rice -- Kolkan Jugger
  • Chris Peters (I) -- Red City Jugger
  • Josef Schwaiger -- Kolkan Jugger
  • Rick Adams (III) -- Red City Jugger
  • Jeff Jensen -- Red City Jugger
  • Mark Warren (III) -- Red City Jugger
  • Guy Norris -- Red City Jugger
  • Domonique Gimondi -- Samchin Musician
  • Arthur Spinks -- Samchin Musician
  • Bruce Wormal -- Samchin Musician
  • Barry Canham -- Samchin Musician
  • Sunil De Silver -- Samchin Musician
  • Trevor Frost -- Samchin Musician
  • Ron Jemmott -- Junk Miner Musician
  • Trevor Rippingdale -- Junk Miner Musician
  • Harry Harman -- Junk Miner Musician
  • John Colborne Veal -- Junk Miner Musician

Apparently, the Australian release was thirteen minutes longer than the North American version, and changes the message of the movie rather importantly. Having only seen the NA version, however, I can neither confirm nor deny ...

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