The Blood of Heroes (1989)
The Blood of Heroes is a 1989 post-apocalyptic 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 live action role-playing game 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 juggs, 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 juggs 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 juggs to be good enough to get The League’s attention and, with it, all of the luxuries afforded a League player.
The team consists of Sallow (Rutger Hauer), Dog-Boy (Justin Monjo), Mbulu (Delroy Lindo), Big Cimber (Anna Katarina), and Young Gar (Vincent D’Onofrio).
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.