Monday, 30 January 2012

Review - Salute of the Jugger (1989 - Dir. David Webb Peoples)

The studio responsible for Salute of the Jugger should be taken to court for seriously misrepresenting the contents of this film. I was expecting salutes. Lots of salutes. Even one iconic shot of Rutger Hauer saluting would have been enough. Not a sniff of it. They may as well have called it Wink of the Jugger for the severe lack of winking content. 

We're in Mad Max 2 territory for this one. Set in a dusty post-apocalyptic world, Sallow (Mr Hauer) is a 'Jugger', a player of a violent futuristic sport that pretty much involves hitting people. Each team includes a variety of roles. There's the 'Quick' who has to get a dog skull and put it on a stick in the opposition's half to win the game. Protecting this lightweight is a fella with a big spiky chain and three players equipped with Gladiators style pugil sticks. If this all sounds slightly familiar it might interest you to know that this is J.K Rowling's favourite film. Possibly.

Sallow is eventually joined by a new 'Quick', Kidda (Joan Chen) who, rather than playing games in shanty towns against Vauxhall Conference opposition, wants to have a shot at playing in the league. Funnily enough, the film ends with them challenging a league team to a game in what is the film's best setting: a grimy underground town containing an arena and a hotel that would have Health and Safety executives sweating. The hammocks are all on the side of a huge wall, only accessed by climbing multiple ladders.

Considering the 18 rating, it's not very violent or bloody, and the ending is a bit of a shame, but it has a suitable atmosphere and you can't help wanting Sallow's team to win. Certainly not one of Rutger Hauer's greatest films, but it's still worth a watch. Also, the title screen is gloriously akin to C64 game box art. Almost worth it for that.

If you like this you could also try:
Mad Max 2, Split Second, Dust Devil, Rollerball, Fortress.

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