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The Blood of Heroes aka Salute of the Jugger aka Die Jugger (1989)


Directed by David Webb Peoples

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 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.

Rutger Hauer is the leader of one of these groups, fighting in the dog towns for food and sex. He once was fighting in the Nine Cities, but he banged the wrong woman, and he got cast out. One of his team gets hurt really bad, and they recrute a new face(Joan Chen). After a few successful fights, Sallow(Hauer) gets inspired by Kidda(Chen) and

Young Gar( D`Onofrio) to fight in the Nine Cities again. Of course they are…..but the game is played a lot tougher there, death is a real possibility. Can they win against the best teams in the Nine Cities?

The film has a lot going for it: A pretty good story for something in this genre, a great cast and a very nice post-apocalytic look. The acting is above what you would expect  as well. At least in the uncut version, there is also enough character development to care for them. Plus, they invented a new game , something that is now actually played by people in Germany, and maybe even beyond…just last year I have seen something on tv about it.  Ain`t that cool? A film inspired a new game people actually play. Im sure there is stuff on youtube about it. They just call it Jugger.

Well, another great one with Rutger Hauer. And a beautiful Joan Chen, a younger Vincent D´Onofrio(love him as well) and more good casting.

Another one that isn`t available in widescreen, although there could be a Laserdisc in 1,66:1, but I couldn`t

confirm that , despite searching for it. The sellers on ebay or other sites need to make perfectly clear what they are selling. If I can`t tell what ratio the item has, how could I risk to shell out  lots of money without knowing the item`s facts?

Oh well…let`s get back the the film itself.

Released in 1990, this 10 million dollar film failed at the boy office, in the US at least, with a reported intake of roughly a million.

Too bad, it would`ve deserved more. Maybe bad timing, maybe too much good stuff with bigger stars in the cinema at the time. Wouldn`t be the first film this happened to. It probably did good in the video stores.

David Webb Peoples also wrote this, he is actually the screenplay writer for Blade Runner and several other very good movies.  Sometimes, good writers get offered a film to direct, with sometimes good, sometimes dissapointing outcome.

This is a job well done, I think. But it failed at the box office, so I guess that`s why he didn`t direct anything after this.

Maybe with the german poster they would have had more visitors. That looks so Cyborg-ish cool, awesome…I may get the VHS for that cover alone, even if the old german tape is also a cut version. Annoying this “cut” shit, not allowed under 18, but still cut?  Our censors were out of their minds all the time, a dice throwing bunch of morons.

The US version is cut, if you want the uncut version, you must hunt down a european or australian DVD.I also read that the US-DVD has a very bad image quality. So it`s an easy decision to make.

There were rumours about the 104 minute japanese version, but it`s just the international uncut version plus PAL/NTSC difference in running time. The real running time is 99 minutes and something.

So, uncut ..cool, but fullframe…duuhhh. Shit. About time someone puts this out in widescreen. But for now , it`s ok….

Let the games begin!!!! And maybe…make a damn sequel. Once this was over, I kinda wanted more.

Update: I found images of the Laserdisc from Japan, still cant tell what ratio it has, if you can read japanese, please let me know.

Its on sale (yet) here: JUGGER JAPAN LASERDISC

-I am not  the seller or affiliated with them!!!! I wish I could afford this, but right now, nope…not working.

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3 responses

  1. I remember this one very fondly and remember liking it a lot. I also remember being amazed that the guy who wrote Blade Runner and The Unforgiven directed this, but never anything else. It’s been so long though, so my memory of this film overall is fuzzy. But I do remember liking it a lot and even owning it at one time. I’m curious to see what the ratio is on that japanese laserdisc though. It should just be mandatory that every film released on dvd or blu-ray should just be widescreen. I don’t know why they don’t do that! Great review though buddy! Keep it up!

    April 5, 2012 at 8:14 PM

  2. Ty

    Great write-up. Killer cover!Always wanted to see the uncut version.

    Will have to track down the right DVD.

    April 12, 2012 at 5:53 AM

  3. wkdbounce

    I’m a big fan of this film. The VHS here in Australia had a “puffy” 3D cover with the arms bulging out. I’ve worked on my own private fan edit that includes the uncut ending and both the alternate scenes from before dogboy leaves the team in the one movie. I’d love a widescreen video source and a copy of the original screenplay to work with though. I’ve looked into finding a widescreen laserdisc, I first looked into the Japanese laserdisc until I found out it is not widescreen. A lot of research with the conclusion that the best bet would be the German 1997 laserdisc from the box set “Action box vol 1”. This was the only released version listed as widescreen.

    January 13, 2013 at 10:33 AM

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