Have you ever wondered whether there'll be sports after the apocalypse? Do you worry atomic wars that mostly eradicate mankind might disrupt the football season?
Well, take heart, post-apocalyptic sports fans, because Rutger Hauer has come to answer your question with a resounding..."SPORTS WILL STILL SPORT AFTER SOCIETY CRUMBLES!"
Yes, Rutger Hauer (most notably of Blade Runner and Hobo with a Shotgun) plays in a competitive sport where five people work together to place a dog's skull on a spike to score. The timekeeper chucks stones at a metal plate until someone wins, or until 100 stones are tossed. There are two blockers. One guy swinging a chain. And the "quick" whose job is to grab the skull and place it on the spike.
It's not unlike football. For example, violence is encouraged, but the players generally have enough respect for one another to avoid gratuitous injury where possible. But, honestly, it's not exactly like football either, since most of them are wielding weapons of some sort.
|Swinging a chain...swinging a chain.|
So, first let's talk about the pieces, then we'll talk about the whole pie.
Rutger Hauer is the grizzled veteran of the sport. He's seen some shit, man. And he's got a vendetta to boot. Regardless of his motivation in this particular film, the man can do no wrong in my book. He is on the level of a Peter Cushing. No matter how bad the film, the script, or the directing, these are actors that elevate every single frame of the film they are in. They have a presence that is unparalleled.
Just like Peter Cushing can hold a screen presence doing this...
So too can Rutger Hauer wear a tire wrapped around his face and still look like a badass...
|Number of people who can look cool wearing tires as a helmet? One.|
|And he can go one-eyed in the same movie and look twice as awesome.|
|Two of the greats, just hanging out post-apocalypse|
Those are the pieces. The big pie is a Mad Max version of Major League (which, coincidentally, came out the same year as the latter), with Rutger Hauer as the Tom Berenger veteran and Joan Chen playing the Charlie Sheen rookie part. It's any underdog sports story (Rocky, Bad News Bears, Karate Kid, Hoosiers), but it takes place after the apocalypse.
|You can't just throw these things together and hope they work...|
With that concept at its heart, this movie does a few magical things. First, it completely sells this sports and its structure so well that, by the end, you understand how the game works (there's even a training montage!) and what the stakes are. That's no small task for a throwaway late-80s movie. Secondly, it actually makes you care for these characters enough to root for them by the end.
It's a bit tough to find on DVD, but easy enough in the usual digital places. So, if you get the chance and the inkling, find this little-known gem. It's a strange mixture of a lot of cool things that work well together in this case.