The 80s were quite a time for movies (word has even reached me that certain millennials have discovered the decade over at Tor.com), and some of my favorites are firmly rooted in that era — and one of my favorites from that decade is the 1989 Rutgur Hauer, Joan Chen, Vincent “REH” D’Onofrio effort The Blood of Heroes (BoH).
BoH stands both above and beside the many other dystopian movies for being a post-apocalyptic sports movie. And here’s the thing — that is ALL it is.
The apocalypse that put the world into such a sorry state? Not discussed — too busy trying to put a dog skull on a stake.
The high-tech dingus that will turn things around? That doesn’t happen in this movie — too busy winning matches in the hinterlands.
The guy-who-knows-the-only-weakness-of-Lord Motherraper? Also does not happen. Gotta win matches in the hinterlands to get into the Red City match.
But surely Joan Chen is going to get revenge on Lord Motherraper for murdering her family when he was roaming the world for steel and they wouldn’t name another target, a military target.
NO! Her family is alive and well, she just wants more out of her life than sustenance farming. And that means being a kwik for a team of juggers, sticking dog skulls on stakes in the hinterlands to win enough matches to play in the Red City and the big leagues!
It is, like a lot of movies that I like, really just ground down to its solid gleaming core — local girl makes good on threat to join struggling Jugger team and make good!
What is amazing is that given all the movie is not and what little of it there is — it strikes the perfect amount. Any more and it would have been too much!
As it is, it draws you in to the small story and makes you care about the outcome.
It is also one of those rare gems — a cheaply made movie that doesn’t look cheap. It is a poor world, a land of sustenance farmers and one wealthy city that we get to see — and how they save money on the Red City scenes is quite clever.
Okay, there is one sub-plot involving petty revenge by a petty noble sicking one of the Red City Jugger champions on poor Rutger Hauer, but even that is pretty small, and it leads to Australian actor Max Fairchild giving one of the best lines of the (or any) movie.
Adrian Simmons is an editor for Heroic Fantasy Quarterly. His last Belated Movie Review for us was Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto.