Youngblood (1986)


I have a history with “Youngblood” as I do with a lot of movies from the eighties. It was one of those movies that always played on local television and all I remembered about it was the idea that hockey involved a lot of fist fighting, and methodical fist fighting at that. “Youngblood” was always that really entertaining sports movie that was more about the idea of the male spirit than the sport of hockey itself. It’s not the most sports oriented movie, but more a coming of age action flick with a hefty amount of romance, bromance, and typical eighties homoeroticism. And I still find it to be a raucous action drama, regardless of its age.

Those that have decried the movie for advocating solving problems with violence, really don’t understand the themes the film pushes in the way of rites of passage and men in general. I don’t think you can solve problems with fist fighting, but the conflict within the movie leads in to character Dean Youngblood having to prove he can play a sport that demands a very primal sense of sportsmanship. Rob Lowe plays gifted hockey player Dean Youngblood who is desperate to break from the family business of farming to become a hockey player. He tries out for the Mustangs, and earns a slot on the team despite his inability to handle himself against more rugged players on the ice.

Particularly his main rival Carl Racki, who has half the skills, but most of the force required to be an enforcer on the ice. Dean embeds himself in the lifestyle of the hockey player, learning about brotherhood, and strategy, all the while forming a romance with Jessie, who he’s shocked to learn is the daughter of the Mustangs’ coach Chadwick. “Youngblood” balances the drama, action, and sports sequences well while taking some surreal turns throughout the narrative that provide a unique experience only the eighties could muster up. The hazing ritual screams homoerotic, while the character of Miss McGill (sexy Fionnula Flanagan), who has an appetite for young hockey players is comical but unusual, to say the least.

That said, there are some really entertaining segments within the film, including Youngblood’s relationship with fellow teammate Sutton, as played by Patrick Swayze. Swayze is a really entertaining element of the film, giving Dean someone to grow with, while also offering a catalyst for his inevitable confrontation with rival player Racki. The movie really shines when Lowe plays off of Jim Youngs, who plays Dean’s older brother and ex-hockey player who inspires Dean to learn how to handle himself on the ice, and engage in brawling that will ensure a victory on the ice, no matter how big the opponent. “Youngblood” is no masterpiece, but it’s a definite slice of eighties cheese that delivers on action, engaging characters, and a kick ass final showdown that I had fun with.