Cult Caravan: Youngblood (1986)
Reader, there are three things you need to know about Youngblood (1986):
1. It’s about ice hockey and ice hockey is the single greatest sport there is and we’ll fight anyone who says otherwise.
2. It stars Rob Lowe when he looked like this…
… and Patrick Swayze when he looked like this
3. It features a young Keanu Reeves sporting a French Canadian/Québécois accent that simultaneously manages to sound both over-the-top and yet absolutely nothing like French.
As with all sports films, Youngblood starts with an underdog. That underdog is 17-year-old American farm boy, Dean Youngblood (Rob Lowe) who dreams of becoming an NHL professional.
However, his father, (played by ex-Toronto Maple Leafs player, Eric Nesterenko) thinks it’s a terrible idea altogether. Not only does he needs him on the farm dammit but his older son, Kelly, tried to pursue the same dream years before and lost an eye in the process. Thankfully, it is that same one-eyed Kelly who manages to convince their Da to let Dean travel up North to try out for the Hamilton Mustangs. They are safe in the knowledge that he won’t last a fortnight anyway.
Now, Youngblood is a naturally gifted, ultra-fast player (’92 goals in the New York League’ thanks very much) but he’s a little bit of a pansy when it comes to ‘dropping the gloves’. Ice hockey, if you are unfamiliar, requires a certain level of toughness given the propensity for fights – with several large men sporting blades on their boots and waving large sticks, shit gets crazy a lot. Lowe’s Youngblood has weak girlie arms and is therefore very screwed.
During try-outs, Youngblood clashes with another player, Racki, and ends up half concussed on the ice. It’s not supposed to be funny but it is.
Despite his lack of toughness, Youngblood makes the team. Of course he does, otherwise it would be a very short film.
Whilst the Canadians are, at first, put out by this flashy young Yank who out-skates them all, there soon emerges a bond not-unlike-but-definitely-not-similar-to Top Gun, between Captain Derek Sutton (Patrick Swayze) and young Youngblood. There are lots of lingering looks, knowing smiles and towel slapping but, you know, totally not in a gay way.
For the next few games, Youngblood has a great time with the Mustangs altogether.
He gets his testicles shaved during a rookie hazing ritual.
He get statutory raped by his horny landlady…
… the process of which is perved upon by French Keanu Reeves and ‘Unnamed Canadian’.
He has lots of disturbing sweaty sex with the Coach’s daughter (Cynthia Gibb) in front of a fire.
He rides a goddamn Zamboni in cowboy boots.
However, when Sutton receives a horrible injury mid-game at the hands of that pesky goon, Racki (now playing for the Mustangs rival team), Youngblood fails to retaliate, stopping short of crawling into the foetal position and crying.
After the game, Youngblood dramatically quits the Mustangs and goes home out of fear, anger and sadness but mostly fear.
Youngblood resigns himself to a life on the farm for no apparent reason. After all, he didn’t get injured – Sutton did. He wasn’t forced off the team – he quit. At this point we realise that Youngblood is a goddamn idiot.
For a while, there are lots of shots of Youngblood back on the farm set to sad music until one day, his brother, Kelly, has enough of his angsty bullshit presumably having become fed up with him looking sad on tractors.
Kelly, being something of a bruiser, decides to teach young Dean how to stand up for himself and his fellow team mates. And so begins an epic training montage in a barn…
… during which he gets..
Youngblood returns to the Mustangs ready for blood and just in time for the Memorial Cup playoffs between the Mustangs and Racki’s team, the Thunder Bay Bombers.
You will receive no prize for guessing what happens. What? No, go away, Reader. No prize for you, you scavenger. It’s a sports film. More to the point, it’s an ‘80s sports film. Of course everything ends well. The entire film is like a checklist of ’80s movie clichés –Youngblood is a fish-out-of-water who has to overcome the odds by facing someone he’d have no chance against in reality and beating them into bloody pulp a la Karate Kid. This being said, we can’t honestly say Daniel LaRusso ever strutted around a locker room in an ass-less jock strap.
Youngblood is a fairly predictable affair topped with a substantial amount of cheese but it is very fun to watch throughout. The phrase ‘It’s so bad it is brilliant’ springs to mind but in the case of Youngblood, it’s so bad it becomes brilliant and then goes back to bad for a while but you realise you love it anyway.
For those of you who consider yourselves to be the busy sort, the entire film is basically condensed into the trailer below.
YOU ARE WELCOME