Friday, February 15, 2008

BATTLEFIELD BASEBALL (Japan; 2003)


BATTLEFIELD BASEBALL (Japan; 2003
D: Yudai Yamaguchi

This low-budget baseball zombie comedy is arguably a mixed bag, but one likely to develop a sizable cult following if it hasn't by the time you read this. While it successfully pokes fun at the clich├ęs inherent in most sports movies, particularly those emotional cheats where spectators spontaneously applaud the most mundane, often personal actions of the main characters, it doesn't deliver on the action and gore quotient promised by the concept. And yet, as a budget-conscious live-action adaptation of a Shonen Jump manga, it plants tongue hard in cheek and certainly feels faithful to the source material, never for a minute taking itself seriously and gleefully indulging in the most eye-rollingly obvious visual gags.

Desperate to make it to the big leagues, the Seido High School baseball team must face their much more successful rivals at Gedo High, a team made up entirely of well-armed zombies. Their ace in the hole may well be transfer student `Jubeh The Baseball' (Tak Sakaguchi), whose signature fastball killed his own father, a tragedy which prevents him from helping the team. Directed by the writer of VERSUS (Yudai Yamiguchi), produced by that film's director (Ryuhei Kitamura) and starring that film's lead (Tak Sakaguchi), BATTLEFIELD shares that film's low-budget ingenuity, but wisely knows when to take up stakes and call it a day around the 90 minute mark. Can't speak for the R1 release of this title, but the Japanese R2 DVD I picked up has English subs and includes a hilariously inventive short film called Ramen Baka Ichidai, about a kid who hunts down the perfect Ramen noodles for his dying grandfather. Primo stuff.