Bounty Films // 2011 // 98 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Paul Pritchard (Retired) // May 11th, 2012
Grab Your Bat And Hold Onto Your Balls...It's Game Time!!
"There are two kinds of people I hate. Those who torture kids, and those who catch balls without gloves!"
After accidentally killing his father with a super-powered pitch, former baseball phenomenon Jubeh Yakyu (Tak Sakaguchi, Yakuza Weapon) hung up his glove and fell into a life of crime. Now aged seventeen, Jubeh, who is considered Japan's most dangerous criminal, is incarcerated in Pterodactyl Juvenile Reformatory.
Though Jubeh had sworn never to play baseball again, he is forced to join the reformatory's team when the governor -- who also happens to be a Nazi -- coerces him into it by offering information on his long-lost brother. Joining up with The Gauntlets, a ragtag bunch of delinquents, Jubeh is pitted against the St. Black Dahlia High School, and quickly comes to realize that this is not baseball as he knows it. With no rules, and points scored for killing your opponent extravagantly, Jubeh must stay alive long enough to learn the truth about his brother.
Yudai Yamaguchi's Deadball doesn't make a lick of sense. It's not that the plot -- or rather what little plot there is -- is overly complex. On the contrary, even an infant could recount the events with ease. However, such is the lack of a real correlation between one scene and the next that, rather than a coherent story, we get 98 minutes of utter insanity. Although that may sound fantastic -- if you're in the mood for that sort of thing -- the fact is, Deadball isn't the entertaining kind of crazy. You see, rather than the relentless action-packed gore-fest promised, Deadball sees itself as a comedy first and foremost, and so forces its audience to endure a torrid opening hour of lame gags and the merciless overselling of such by the cast.
Even at 98 minutes, Deadball is a good half-hour too long. There was simply no need for Yamaguchi to pad out his anemic script with unnecessary inclusions such as a terrorist subplot or the worst Nazi cult ever committed to screen. That's right, for no good reason (at least that I could find), Deadball has a whole bunch of deluded, uniform-wearing Nazis. This truly is a strange little movie, and is that rare case of a non-porn flick containing multiple anal fistings, of which several occur -- all complete with delightful sound effects and a suitably grubby after shot of the antagonist's hand afterward.
Only leading man Tak Sakaguchi has a part worthy of any kind of appraisal, with everyone else stuck in one-note roles that -- for the most part -- are too reliant on goofy performances. Sakaguchi, on the other hand, makes a decent stab at playing the antihero, with a sardonic tone and appearance that personifies the term "effortlessly cool."
The visual effects work, which is predominantly of the practical variety, is let down by infrequent, but nonetheless awful CGI blood. I'm unsure of the hardware and software at the disposal of the effects house, but I'd have thought an Amiga 500 could have done a better job of rendering fake blood.
Bounty Films is releasing Deadball (Region 2) in the U.K., and delivers an impressive-looking DVD. The 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer is clean, with a sharp image and suitably strong colors that complement the film's cartoon violence. The 5.1 DTS soundtrack delivers clear dialogue amongst a lively mix. Released as a two-disc set, Disc One of Deadball contains the film, along with the option of viewing it with an isolated music track. Disc Two features the bulk of the extras, and though lacking in quality, certainly offers a broad range.
* "The Making of Deadball" -- Nothing more than a montage of behind-the-scenes footage in truth, complete with musical accompaniment. The latter stages of this featurette reveal how a few of the more gory effects were accomplished, but even at 12 minutes, this is too long, considering the lack of real content.
* "Final Deadball" -- This short film, which clocks in at 20 minutes, takes the idea of using a baseball as a murder weapon in a different direction to the main feature, and delivers a more-rounded picture as a result.
* "Toki's Wedding (Part 2)" -- Kicking off with highlights of Part 1, which can be found on Bounty Films' release of Yakuza Weapon, this questionable extra follows leading man Tak Sakaguchi as he heads home for a family wedding.
* "Battlefield Baseball High School" -- Unfunny, and ever so slightly annoying, this "amusing" reading of the rules of Battlefield Baseball offers zero replay value. In fact, I wager most viewers fail to make it through the entire 4 minutes.
* "Opening Day Stage Greeting" -- Six minutes of cast members introducing themselves to an audience prior to a screening of Deadball. Exactly as exciting as it sounds.
* "Cast Interviews" -- Various members of the film's cast give an insight into what drew them to the script and discuss their experiences on set.
* "Cast Reunion" -- This is really just the second half of the earlier "Opening Day Stage Greeting," and as such is just as inconsequential and pointless.
Finally, the film's theatrical trailer is included.
For me, it was Peter Jackson's Bad Taste that first introduced me to the joys of splatter-fueled comedy-horror at the tender age of twelve, and -- despite my numerous reservations -- I can't help but feel Deadball is going to prove to be the gateway for some other likeminded youngster to discover the world of gore cinema. Seasoned gorehounds will have seen it all before, of course, but if Deadball is able to lead just one kid to the upper echelons of the splatter genre, such as Re-animator or even broaden their horizons to take in more respectable examples of world cinema, then it will have served its purpose. To be fair: When this film brings the crazy, it really brings the crazy.
To this end, the baseball game, when it finally arrives, almost makes the preceding hour worthwhile. Full of over-the-top geysers of blood, bodily dismemberment, and a smoking hot all-girl team of masochists, 14-year-old boys -- who, of course, are too young to watch the movie, given that the BBFC has granted this Region 2 release an 18 certificate-are well catered for.
Deadball takes far too long to get going, and by the time the splatter starts, most viewers will have zoned out. Yet, for all that is wrong with the film, Deadball still contains moments of inventive gore that will undoubtedly please diehard fans of the genre, not to mention impressionable young minds.
Review content copyright © 2012 Paul Pritchard; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Bounty Films
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* DTS 5.1 Surround (Japanese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Japanese)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Unrated