The Blood of Heroes
|The Blood of Heroes|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||David Webb Peoples|
|Written by||David Webb Peoples|
|Music by||Todd Boekelheide|
|Editing by||Richard Francis-Bruce|
The Blood of Heroes is a 1989 post-apocalyptic Australian and American film directed by David Webb Peoples and starring Rutger Hauer and Joan Chen. The film is also known by the names The Salute of the Jugger and Salute to the Jugger. The film has inspired the creation of the sport Jugger. It has also found its way into AMTGARD, a LARP which has been playing the game for almost 20 years.
Produced by Charles Roven and released by Kings Road Entertainment, the film is set in a post-apocalyptic future, where the wars waged in the 20th century have left the world barren and the past forgotten. Most live from hand to mouth in enclaves known as "market-towns" or "dog-towns", scrounging out a bare subsistence harvesting hardy crops, raising dogs as food, and trading in trinkets from the past.
What little entertainment exists comes primarily from a brutal sport known as The Game. It is played by bands of roving teams known as juggers, who challenge local teams. They might be considered professional athletes, as they make their living through the tribute paid by the town people, should they defeat the local team. Their trophy is the dog skull from the town. The Game involves two armoured teams of five attempting to score by placing a dog skull on the opposing team's goalpost. One unarmed player—the "quick"—runs with the skull while being protected by his/her teammates from attack by the opposing team.
However, not all in this time live so sparsely. The Nine Cities, buried deep underground, are home to affluent and powerful members of the aristocracy. Each of The Nine Cities fields its own team of juggers in an organization known as The League, and its membership is maintained with a fresh stream of new players who are proven veterans of the travelling "dog-town" games by their collection of trophy skulls.
Members of The League live in luxury almost equal to that of aristocrats. It is a dream among roving juggers to be good enough to get The League's attention and, with it, all of the luxuries afforded a League player.
Sallow, the team leader, has played in the League of the Nine Cities before, but was cast out because of his indiscretions with an Overlord's concubine. Kidda (Joan Chen), an ambitious peasant girl, joins the team after a game in her dog town where she virtually destroyed her competition. She and Gar inspire Sallow to challenge The League and expunge his past.
But Kidda and Gar do not realise that the City games are for much more than honour and victory, they will need to fight for their very survival. The Game is played much harder and meaner in the Nine Cities.
The US theatrical version of the film is significantly shorter than the original version released overseas (which has subsequently been shown on US cable). At least ten minutes have been cut. The biggest difference is in the ending. In the American release, the credits roll shortly after the climax, even though picture continues to roll, showing certain conversations with music covering the dialogue. In the longer cut, there are denouement scenes.
The US DVD release of the film matches the US theatrical cut in being much shorter than the original film. Full versions were released on VHS in the early 1990s in Australia, the United Kingdom, Europe and Japan. Various distributors began releasing the original cut on DVD in early 2001.
There has long been a campaign to find the mysterious 104 minute Japanese version of the film, known jokingly as "The Grail of the Jugger". This has even led to the belief that European and Australian "extended" DVD releases are somehow incomplete and that a "super-extended" version is out there to be found. However, there is a simple explanation for this mystery version. Runtimes for the different cuts of the film are noted on imdb.com as 90 min (USA) and 104 min (Japan). Despite a running time of around 99 minutes for the UK/Australian version, its content is identical to the Japanese release. The difference is attributable to PAL Speedup, which delivers content 4% faster.
- "Production Barometer", Cinema Papers, May 1989 p40