Ty Burr
July 06, 1990 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Blood of Heroes

Current Status
In Season
Joan Chen, David Peoples, Rutger Hauer
David Webb Peoples
David Webb Peoples
Sci-fi and Fantasy, ActionAdventure

We gave it a C+

The Blood of Heroes‘ recipe is deceptively simple: Mix equal parts Mad Max and Rollerball, add a few inflated Nietzschean pretensions, and presto, a brutal futuristic action film with stentorian dialogue.

On the other hand, how can you hate a movie that gives its characters such names as Dogboy and Lord Vile? Writer-director David Peoples is overly serious about his post-nuke parable, but he has assembled a great cast, and his visual style is strong enough to keep the whole thing from falling into silliness. Although Blood bombed in theaters, it’s the kind of ready-made cult film that should find a relatively enthusiastic audience on video.

In Peoples’ vision there’s not much to do after the bombs drop except come above ground occasionally to play the Game: a nasty bit of business in which a fast runner, or Qwik, tries to put a dog skull on a stake at the end of a field while four big bruisers try to stop him by any means necessary (maiming’s a favorite tactic). Ever-reliable Rutger Hauer plays Sallow, a grizzled star of the Game who has been exiled from the underground capital for monkeying with the aforementioned Lord Vile’s wife. When the movie opens, Sallow’s traveling the wasteland with a ragtag team, taking on all comers like an old-fashioned gunslinger. But then a new Qwik (Twin Peaks‘ Joan Chen) rouses him into returning to the city for One Final Challenge.

Until it finally goes below the surface, Blood of Heroes is strong: The Game sequences are incredibly violent, but they’re also far more exciting than any of the dialogue. Once underground, though, the generic parts of the narrative take over: The big climax is both shamelessly predictable and (on video) annoyingly hard to see. The Blood of Heroes doesn’t want to admit it, but it’s just another Western in punk clothing. C+

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