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Rated R
Copyright 1989 Kings Road Entertainment
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 27 July 2008

The Characters:  

  • Sallow - Rutger Hauer! I have always said that becoming close friends with a screenwriter is the best way to ensure you get a part as an aging, but outstanding, sports hero who falls in love with a young Asian woman. It worked for Stallone, and it obviously worked for Mr. Hauer.
  • Kidda - Joan Chen! Falling white blossom from beautiful cherry tree, wearing brass knuckles.
  • Gar - Vincent D'Onofrio! Is that an L.L. Bean shirt that he is wearing?
  • Gandhi - The team doctor. He carries all of his gear around in armoire that he wears like a backpack. Great non-orthopedic ghosts but that looks uncomfortable.
  • Big Cimber - Her middle name is "tenacious."
  • Mbulu - The unfortunate thing here is that, due to a trick of fate (and facial scar tissue), he ends up looking like one of the California Raisins.
  • Dog Boy - All together now, "Daaawwwgggg Booooiiiiiii!"
  • Gonzo - All right, what wise guy took Darth Vader's head and sewed it onto George "The Animal" Steele's body?
  • The Elegants - Why do people insist on being ruled by candy-ass, powder-wearing human parasites? I mean, the British used to be like that. Heck, some people say that they still are.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

The problem with futuristic sports films is that, in some way, the activity has to reflect on the society of people that call it a sport. A movie tells a story (well, they should - but this site is living proof that this does not always happen), and the sport is a part of that story. It would all be well and good to watch people toss a dog skull around for ninety minutes, but rather boring. Somehow, the movie needs to tell us something about the people playing the sport, and/or those participating as spectators.

Post-apocalyptic films have yet another consideration: the available arenas and equipment. I will grant you that, should World War III happen, there might be a stadium or two still standing (which would piss the Russians off to no end), but eventually the damaged arenas will collapse from neglect. So, the post-apocalyptic sport has to make do with what is readily available. Golf is not likely to be too popular, with the exception of those maniacs who like sand traps. Should you be a golfer who loves sand traps and wishes that there was an entire course filled with nothing but sand and rock, make sure you survive the next nuclear war. You'll be set for life (which will not be long, because the radiation is going to kill you). Anyway, you see where I am going with this. A sport that only requires a field filled with rocks and sand, some lengths of chain, a couple of pieces of rebar, and a dead dog is well-suited to the world after Armageddon.

Dogs have it pretty rough once Mankind presses the button. Between having skulls shaped not entirely unlike a football, and being a practical source of protein, a dog's life expectancy is almost nil. I think that Fido's best bet to avoid extinction is to develop both telepathy and radar. An increase in intelligence would be a good idea as well. Something beyond, "I smell bacon! What's in the bag? Please show me what's in the bag! I can't read!" could go a long way, especially in a world populated by hungry people carrying bacon-flavored bags and wooden clubs.

By now you are starting to wonder what in the heck this film is about, and, if I am ever going to tell you.

Sallow and his teammates are juggers: players of a violent sport in a post-apocalyptic world. They travel from town to town, challenging the home team, and earning tattooed dog skulls with every win. The goal of jugging is to place a dog's skull on the opposing team's stake. Teams have five players. One of the players is the "qwik," and they are the ones running with the skull. Across midfield are three players armed with quarterstaff-like weapons. That position is called the "slash" (well, at least Sallow is called a slash). Lastly, a defender on each team is armed with a length of chain. Players wears lots of makeshift armor, everything from wicker shin pads to sections of truck tire are employed to prevent serious injury. By and large, all of the protective gear is held in place by pieces of cut bicycle tire tubing.

Far as I can tell, these are the complete rules of jugging:

Teams will be comprised of five players.
No sharp objects, all weapons must cause their damage through blunt trauma.
The first team to place the dog skull on the other team's stake wins.
Games will last for one hundred stones, three times (I'll explain later; maybe).

That's it for the rules! Is it any surprise that Sallow and the other juggers on his team are heavily scarred from years of playing this game? There is more scar tissue on these people than the underside of Jenna Jameson's breasts. The two qwiks beat the crap out of each other trying to get possession of the skull, while everyone else just tries to beat the crap out of the other team. When a qwik (having reduced the other qwik to a bloody pulp) does make a run for the scoring stake with the dog skull in hand, they have to dodge metal staves and swinging chains. Talk about a bloody violent game. It's like somebody crossed lacrosse and football, then tried to teach the sport to the Goths (and I mean the barbarians, not the other kind).

Speaking of which, what sports did the Goths play? Kubb is not so much a sport as a game (and it had not been invented yet). I imagine that throwing either axes or logs might have been popular. Wrestling probably was not, because that just meant exchanging fleas.

It's not as if Goths would have been interested in World of Warcraft, even if they did have computers (which they didn't). "My character is a barbarian who chops up things with his sword? You want me to pay Blizzard $14.99 a month to do play a game about everyday life in 378 AD? Why is everybody in the future so stupid?"

How in the heck did we get from jugging to barbarians playing World of Warcraft?

After, games, the juggers all get along just fine. And why not? It is not as if anybody could break any rules during a game. Beat a man unconscious with your metal quarterstaff? Sure! Lay into the qwik with a length of chain until his leg is a pulpy mass of raw flesh? Good on ya, mate! That is some great jugging!

The other thing about being a jugger is enjoying the post-game party. Granted, you cannot start right away, because there are stitches to be sewn and limbs to be splinted, but once all the bones are set it is time to par-tay! The starving, water-impoverished villages take out all the stops after a good jugging. They raid the larder, open the fermented cactus wine, and break out the musical instruments. The surviving players enjoy themselves immensely. Despite having been beaten with sticks and chains, the juggers also engage in quite a bit of sex with any available villagers. I guess that they have truly mastered the use of cut bicycle tire tubing, because nobody ever mentions pregnancy.

Okay, so that's jugging in a nutshell. Got it?

Sallow recruits Kidda after she permanently maims the team's existing qwik (actually, Kidda is quite adamant about becoming a jugger). The young woman has raw talent, along with youthful ambition. She wants to be a great jugger, maybe even go to Red City and play in the league there. As the team travels across the desolate wasteland, they find more towns and play more games against better and better opponents. They continue to win. Normally, trying to literally forge a player like you might forge a sword is a bad idea. They start screaming when you beat on them with the hammer. In the case of juggers, the harder you hit them, the harder they get.

Sallow continuously avoids taking the team to Red City and issuing a challenge to the league. Years ago, the scarred jugger had been in the league. He got into a bit of trouble with an elegant woman - meaning he was screwing her. It is true that such trysts between the ruling class and league juggers are portrayed as normal, but we are told that Sallow overstepped his bounds and insulted a lord. The team's captain is afraid that traveling to Red City to issue a challenge is a waste of time. The aristocracy would never accept. Still, Kidda and Gar want a chance at the big time. They finally get their break when Sallow loses an eye during a game. After that, Sallow realizes that, if they are going to test the league, it had better be soon (before he loses the other eye).

Teams who challenge the league are not trying to win the match. Once you see the league players, you will understand what I mean. They are well-fed, given the best equipment, and used to playing against talented juggers. Challengers from the outlands need not score (indeed, none ever has), but have to put up a good fight. Sallow was recruited after his team lasted twenty-six stones when playing a league team.

Red City is far underground. So far that reaching it requires a long elevator ride. Once they reach their destination, Kidda is introduced to a bustling underground metropolis, filled with dirty human bodies going their dirty human ways. Above the working class poor struts the aristocracy, in that annoying, pansy way so beloved by that type (I could make an 18th century French joke here, but think that restraint is in order).

Will the team's challenge be accepted? While they wait for an answer, Sallow takes Kidda to Red City's version of a hotel. A huge concrete wall stretches up impossibly high into the subterranean blackness. Across its face are ladders and small platforms. You pay your fee, then start climbing. And you climb, and climb, and climb. When you finally get to your platform, you lay down and go to sleep. Well, Sallow and Kidda are not interested in taking a nap right away. They are out to engage in hot, jugger on jugger rub-rub. Their "bed" is freaking high in the air. Talk about a perilous love nest. I do not think that I would sleep, let alone have rough and tumble sex, on the darn thing. One slip and over the side I would go, with my junk flapping in the breeze behind me as I plummeted to the ground fifty stories below.

What is the deal with that concrete wall? It cannot be the Hoover Dam, can it? Not buried under a desert, and with useless aristocrats prissing around. Don't tell me that World War III was the French nuking America and then importing all of those fruity royal bastards to rule over the rock-strewn rubble. That would break my heart.

Check out the scene where Sallow meets his old jugging chum, Gonzo. The men are on edge around each other, because of their past friendship. As such scenes go, it is pretty well acted. Come to think of it, the whole movie benefits from a sincere approach to the juggers' personal relationships. Anyway, did you notice that Gonzo is a big, corn-fed looking brute? It is rather obvious that professional sports players are still using performance-enhancing drugs. Hold that thought, because maybe that is not the case. Gonzo probably just eats ten pounds of bull testicles for supper every night.

The team's challenge is accepted, because a wormy aristocrat named Lord Vile wants Gonzo to permanently maim Sallow (he tells the big jugger to do so). Sallow and his team take to the field against the Red City juggers, but Gonzo refuses to intentionally injure Sallow. Instead, he gangs up on Rutger Hauer's character with another jugger to catch Sallow in an unbreakable hold that incapacitates him during the first one hundred stones. Yes, I said one hundred stones. Kidda and the others struggle, against all odds, and hold the elite juggers to a standstill for the first third of the game. It is a motivating thing to watch, with Big Cimber hanging on to her opponent as the beefy monster tries to club her to death, and Kidda earning more than a few new scars as she fights with the other team's qwik. And the dirty, unwashed poor of Red City begin gathering to watch the heroic match.

During the next third, Sallow refuses to be pinned. Instead, he goes mano-a-bison with Gonzo. All of the battle scarred juggers give everything they have. Blood runs, pain is endured, and bodies scream out for the physical abuse to stop. Still, they go on, until the game is over. I will not give it away, but it is a satisfying finale.

Oh, and kudos to Gonzo, when confronted about protecting Sallow, for telling the pasty-faced Lord Vile to, "F**k off."

My biggest complaint about "The Blood of Heroes" is what takes place in the background during some of the games. Any action taking place center camera is good, but juggers in the background were often just holding pipe against pipe and shuffling back and forth.

Now, before I let you go, I will finally explain "one hundred stones, three times." Apparently whatever cataclysm destroyed civilization also wiped out hundreds of years of watch technology. Jugger games are timed by how long it takes the timekeeper to throw, one at a time, one hundred stones at a metal gong/cymbal/sheet (something that makes noise when hit by a rock). After the apocalypse, not a whole lot of Swiss people are walking around, but there are plenty of stones. Hence the awkward method of measuring time.

At least we can be certain that some of the rocks contain quartz, meaning that everything learned about keeping time was not lost when the bombs fell (though timepiece purists might disagree with me).

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • The Crusades would have looked a lot different if steel belted radials had already been invented.
  • Feet are righty tighty, lefty sprainy.
  • Turtles = desert chickens.
  • Wearing silk underwear is like having a warm summer breeze blowing in your pants.
  • The only thing better than taking one ugly woman to bed is taking two ugly women to bed.
  • Sex should not require Bengay, nor topical anesthetics.
  • Asphalt is canvas that you can walk on.
  • The Hoover Dam was originally designed to be high rise apartments.
  • The last person you want trying to knock your bladder loose with a length of iron pipe is a testosterone-overloaded maniac who has a persecution complex and anger management issues.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • Before we begin, I want to mention that there are no RANDOM ACTS OF VIOLENCE in this film. Expect brutality.
  • 1 min - I just had a Flesh Gordon 2 flashback.
  • 17 mins - Ah, to be young again.
  • 19 mins - In case you were wondering, the answer is no, this is not a Dasani commercial.
  • 36 mins - "So I asked him, 'Who do you play for?' and he said, 'The Zanarkand Abes.' and I'm, like, 'Who?' and he went nuts, screaming at me for not knowing who the Zanarkand Abes are. Then he was whining about 'Jecht.' I was like, 'What's a Jecht?' and he started going off on how much he hates his dad."
  • 42 mins - Future juggers, and future jugg.
  • 47 mins - 5/8" to 17mm four. Checkmate!
  • 52 mins - "Is this the D line? I think that it must be the D. Man, I hate the Bronx."
  • 61 mins - Fajitas! Yum!
  • 78 mins - Big Cimber shows off her signature move, "the limpet latch."
  • 85 mins - Yeah! HELL YEAH!


  • Sallow: "If you'd move a little faster you wouldn't need all that sewing. Pretty soon you'll be all thread."
  • Gar: "How many stones did you go when you made your challenge?"
    Sallow: "Twenty-six."
    Gar: "Twenty-six stones? That's all? Twenty-six stones and you received the attention of the league?"
    Sallow: "We were the only ones who ever lasted that long. Two of us were still standing."
  • Kidda: "You slept on silk with women with no scars."
    Sallow: "Sometimes."
    Kidda: "It must be soft - skin with no scars - like silk."
    Sallow: "I like scars."
  • Lord Vile: "You protected him, you arsehole!"
    Gonzo: "Lord Vile, I've broken juggers in half, smashed their bones, and left the ground behind me wet with brains. I'll do anything to win, but I'll never hurt a soul for any reason but to put a dog skull on a stake."

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note bloodheroes1.wav Big Cimber: "I thought...I thought these ones were supposed to be easy."
Sallow: "We're playing like old women."
Green Music Note bloodheroes2.wav Sallow: "BBBlllllpppttttt. Still trying; I told you two juggers can't f**k after the game. It doesn't work, unless you like rubbing wounds against wounds."
Green Music Note bloodheroes3.wav Kidda: "You were right about how good they are. I never dreamed it could be played so fast and so hard."
Green Music Note bloodheroes4.wav Elegant Lady: "No one ever comes to these things. They're not contests at all."
Lord Vile: "Nevertheless, they can be quite brutal. Much more so than the league games."
Elegant Lady: "I don't like brutality, I like heroics. I like the blood of heroes."
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipbloodheroes1.mpg - 4.3m
Just a friendly exhibition match.

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