Movie Review: Cool Runnings

Cool Runnings Trailer

Cool Runnings Summary

In November 1987, Jamaican sprinter Derice Bannock trains to qualify for the 100 metres in the 1988 Summer Olympics. He fails to qualify when fellow runner Junior Bevil accidentally stumbles, knocking himself, Derice, and Yul Brenner down.

Derice vents his frustrations to Barrington Coolidge, the President of the Jamaica Olympic Association. He spots a photograph in Coolidge’s office, featuring his late father Ben, standing next to a fellow Olympic gold medal winner. Coolidge identifies the man as disgraced American bobsled medallist Irving Blitzer, who was disqualified for cheating in the 1972 Winter Olympics. Derice realizes he could participate in the 1988 Winter Olympics by forming a bobsled team, recruiting his friend Sanka Coffie, a pushcart derby champion.

Blitzer, working in Jamaica as a bookie, at first refuses to help Derice, until learning he is Ben Bannock’s son. A recruitment drive fails, but the arrival of Junior and Yul allows Derice to form the required four-man bobsled team. The team train with Blitzer, though Coolidge refuses to fund the $20,000 needed to participate in the Olympics, believing the team’s inexperience will bring shame to Jamaica. The team find various ways to raise the money, ranging from singing on the street to arm wrestling. Junior, who avoids telling his father about the team, sells his car to finance the trip to Canada.

In Calgary, Blitzer registers the team, receiving an old bobsled from his former teammate Roger. The Jamaicans struggle to drive the bobsled and adapt to the cold, though exercise and hard work eventually pay off. Derice begins to copy the techniques of the Swiss team. Sanka, Junior, and Yul get into a bar fight with the snobbish East German team, and are reprimanded by Derice.

After weeks of training, the team successfully qualifies for the finals, only to be disqualified by the Olympic committee, as retribution for Blitzer’s prior cheating scandal. Blitzer confronts Kurt Hemphill, his former coach, now a judge in the committee, asking him not to punish the Jamaicans, as they had nothing to do with his cheating scandal. That night, the team are informed that they have been reinstated. On the night the Olympics formally open, Junior’s father arrives to retrieve his son, but Junior stands by his commitment to compete, earning Yul’s respect.

The team’s first day on the track is a disaster, finishing in last place. Sanka realizes Derice is copying the Swiss team’s methods, and encourages the team to ‘bobsled Jamaican’. They improve on the second day, finishing in eighth place. During their final race, one of the bobsled’s blades detaches, causing it to flip over and crash. Determined to finish the race, the team pick up their bobsled and carry it across the finish line, earning the applause of the other teams and the spectators, including Junior’s father. An epilogue explains the team would return home as heroes, then return to the 1992 Winter Olympics to participate as equals.

Cool Runnings Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

A fun movie for the whole family. It is forgotten but shouldn’t be. It really does highlight dogsledding especially as part of the Winter Olympics.

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