In 1993, “Cool Runnings” made its box office premiere on October 1st. Starring Malik Yoba, Doug E. Doug, Leon, Rawle D. Lewis, and John Candy, “Cool Runnings” was based on the true story of how the Jamaican national bobsleigh team overcame incredible odds to qualify for the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.
Aside from the story behind the film, the movie itself gained positive accolades from both mainstream and black audiences because of its themes of positivity, resilience, and proving doubters wrong.
“Cool Runnings” follows Derice Bannock, one of the top 100m runners in Jamaica, who fails to qualify when he is tripped by fellow runner Junior Bevil, who himself falls over another runner, Yul Brenner.
In order to fulfill his lifelong goal of competing in the Olympics, Deric and friend Sanka Coffie, himself a pushcart racer, seek out Irv Blitzer (John Candy). a two-time American bobsled Gold Medalist at the ’68 Winter Olympics. He qualified and competed in the ’72 Winter Olympics but was disqualified for cheating and retired to Jamaica.
Born Leon Preston Robinson IV has been a professional actor since 1982, when he made his debut in a film called “Sole Survivor.” But most of us raised when MTV was still about music videos remember his appearance as St. Martin in Madonna’s then controversial music video “Like a Prayer.”
He is eventually convinced to be their coach, and the persuade Junior and Yul, the two other runners who failed to qualify, to join them. But Yul is still incensed at Junior’s mistake costing him a shot at competing in the sport he specialized in, 100m dash.
On the face, the story seems like an exercise in cooperation and teamwork, but much of the middle parts of the film deal with the turbulent situations that result from such a seemingly absurd pairing of former competitors trained by a disgraced American in a sport they never even dreamed of competing in.
“Cool Runnings” was the last film comedian John Candy appeared in that was released while he was still alive.
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Though it’s “based” on true events, the characters in “Cool Runnings” were all fictional. Yes, the individuals who conceived the Jamaican bobsled envisioned recruiting top track stars to compete on the team, but none were interested. Instead, the individuals who actually competed were sprinters from the Jamaican Air Force.
The Irv Blitzer character was an amalgamation of several trainers, known of whom were in any cheating scandal. In truth, the United States hadn’t won gold in bobsleigh since 1948 prior to winning in 2010.