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Christopher Webster [Celluloid 04.27.08] post apocalyptic

Year: 1989
Director: David Webb Peoples
Writer: David Webb Peoples
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: agentorange
Rating: 6.6 out of 10

First, a note concerning the genesis of this retro review. Some pretty succinct thoughts about David People's all but forgotten post-apocalyptic gem have been expressed around these parts already but, in the interest of offering my own far more forgiving opinion and adding some screens, I've decided to chime in with a bit more of an elaborate review. So, if after reading this you still feel a tad skeptical, please feel free to follow the link at the bottom of the page to check out the past thoughts of my esteemed colleague.

Beyond my undying fascination with all things post apocalyptic, I was initially drawn into viewing Salute of the Jugger through the knowledge that it had been written and directed by David Peoples, a man whose name has been attached to many of my favorite films. In fact, besides writing Jugger, Peoples has pushed the pen on untouchable genre classics like Blade Runner, 12 Monkeys, Leviathan, Ladyhawk, Soldier, and of course Unforgiven. And, besides a documentary he directed twenty years earlier, Salute of the Jugger is, surprisingly, Peoples' only directorial effort. So, once all these pieces of cinematic history fell into place, I really had no choice but to track down a copy and give it a spin.

Starring eighties genre mainstay Rutger Hauer, Twin Peaks' Joan Chen, and Full Metal Jacket's Vincent D'Onofrio, Salute of the Jugger is essentially an underdog sports movie cloaked in PA clothing. Think a medieval Hoosiers with scars and dog skulls and you'll get the idea. It's about good ol' small town boys who dream of making it to the big city finals to get a chance to show the world their stuff. And of course, after givin' 110% and overcoming the usual external and internal obstacles along the way they get there. It's basically the feel good story of the year. Except it's also so much more.

I've seen Salute of the Jugger a couple times now and I've got to say that in terms of presenting a plausible post-apocalyptic world, it ranks as one of the best. Peoples maintains in the opening text that the world has been dead for a long time and so it makes sense that some semblance of civil order now exists in the world. The land is littered with small desert tribes while underground a vast metropolis thrives under the totalitarian leadership of a small ruling class. Poeples, it would seem, does not think highly enough of the human species to think that we might be able to develop some alternative social and political order, but clearly feels that the idea of the few controlling the many is somehow an inherent flaw of our genetic makeup.

The world's look, like the Jugger game itself, is also convincingly designed with some amazing costumes and believable makeup work by Bob McCarron (who went on to work on Peter Jackson's Dead Alive, No Escape, and The Matrix). All these bits and pieces make up as unabashedly gritty word where brutality is a way of life and violence has become a sport.

Here are a couple bits of must-know Jugger info for you all. There is no widescreen version of Salute of the Jugger available which is lame though there is an extended & unrated cut out on DVD that runs 104 minutes rather than the paltry 90 minute version that was released as The Blood of Heroes in the USA.

Also if you were so inclined to google "Jugger League" you might be surprised to find that people play the game officially around the world. Very weird.

QE's past review of Salute of the Jugger

Recommended Release: Salute the Jugger

Follow Christopher Webster on Instagram

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bad dog (15 years ago) Reply

Saw this years ago and I remember liking it a lot. Lived-in, as opposed to a high-fashion punk, PA world, and the games were pretty exciting. Will definitely have to find this again ...


Kurt (15 years ago) Reply

I heart SALUTE OF THE JUGGERS! It's just one of those films I like to come back to for the great (and game) cast and the fairly high production values for this sort of genre. It's a small miracle of a film in my books.


projectcyclops (14 years ago) Reply

Good review man. I watched this on VHS last night and, as I wasn't expecting much, was surprised to find it very entertaining. Sort of like The Road Warrior with a smaller budget and less elaborate production designs, but held my attention throughout the 104 minutes.


ghandi (13 years ago) Reply

Most fascinating in my view is that David invented the sport, and did so just for this one film - and that his invention grew to a full-scale, working (!) today sport, with over a dozen tournaments in Germany and even international games ... I don't think another film managed THAT.


Uhu (13 years ago) Reply

Interestingly, in germany we have a heavily cut version USK (ESRB) 16, which lacks the ending and other parts; see
(sorry it is in German)


gonzo (12 years ago) Reply

I watched this years ago, it was good then and is good now. It always gets me inspired to play rugby and I don't like the timid version that has been invented, the game is supposed to be hard...don't f with the 9 cities !


Jo (7 years ago) Reply

More than fifteen Years ago a midnight TV show broadcasted the Uncut version in Japan.


uhu (4 years ago) Reply

I finally managed to do a little "film analysis" of Blood of Heroes ... (hopefully) enjoy:

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