Revisiting The Blood of Heroes AKA Salute of the Jugger

Plot: In a future where most of mankind and technology is wiped out, six people travel from place to place playing a brutal form of football with a dog skull. They hope one day to play in the league in a city.

I’ve always loved low budget post-apocalyptic movies from the 80’s and 90s; it doesn’t matter how cheap they are as it just makes it more effective as if it’s like documentary footage.

The Blood of Heroes AKA The Salute of the Jugger doesn’t have a massive budget lacking special effects or big set-pieces but that makes it feel more real as the world in this movie is without technology where a group of “Juggers” travelling the landscape partake in a violent sport involving a dog skull. The movie basically consists of everyone beating the living Hell out of each other for this sport with a few character moments in between.

Joan Chen is the ambitious player Kidda who joins Sallow (Rutger Hauer) and his crew as they battle their way to the leagues; I’ve got to hand it to Chen, she really wasn’t afraid to do a lot of physical work for this movie and it looks like everyone was getting genuinely injured. This film is also notable for early performances from Vincent D’Onofrio (who I just met last weekend) and Delroy Lindo who are part of Sallow’s team.

Hauer is at his stoic best in this movie with Sallow generally showing little emotion however, as the film progresses we realize he wants nothing more than to rejoin the leagues and feel like a winner again. I found myself caring for these characters and really wanted them to succeed in this harsh world.

I was reading a review for this film on IMDb by someone who worked on it and the final version was apparently cut to ribbons with some interesting scenes removed. There are still alternate versions of the film with the US edition coming in 10 minutes shorter than the international version; in 2017 a 2 disc Blu-ray was released of the film in Japan but I hope a boutique Blu-ray company in North America can give us a new remastered release with the alternate versions of the film.

Overall, Salute of the Jugger AKA The Blood of Heroes is an entertaining post-apocalyptic adventure with solid performances from the entire cast with Joan Chen a particular standout as the ambitious Kidda. Rutger Hauer is hard as nails showing little emotion but we root for him anyway due to his sheer charisma. The sport itself is a fascinating creation and makes for brutal entertainment.