Deadball (Blu-ray)

They actually made a sequel to Battlefield Baseball?!?

I had a friend was a big baseball player
Back in high school
He could throw that speedball through you
Crush your skull like a fool, boy
Saw him the other night at this neo-Nazi encampment
I was killing cyborgs, he was walking out
We went back inside, sat down, hacked off some ninja’s limbs
But all he kept talking about…

Gory days, well, they’ll pass you by
Gory days, in the gouging of a young girl’s eye
Gory days

Baseball whiz Jubei (Tak Sakaguchi, Versus) has become the most wanted juvenile delinquent in all of Japan. After murdering his way through the city’s criminal underworld, he’s captured and thrown in juvenile hall. There, he’s forced into joining the juvie baseball team, in the hopes of defeating the much-feared rivals, Team Black Dahlia. Also, there are Nazis.

Battlefield Baseball is a prime example of the bad-movie-made-bad-on-purpose, like a lot of the stuff churned out by Troma. It’s a movie with no rules, no continuity, and poor production values, and yet the filmmakers were in the joke, with an attitude of, “Ha ha, we’re making a bad movie! This is fun!” Now, director Yudai Yamaguchi reunites with star Tak Sakaguchi for the (long-awaited?) follow up, Deadball. That giddily anarchic “To hell with the narrative” feel extends to Deadball, which cares more about big laughs and shock gore effects than it does anything resembling a story.

Instead of merely talking about baseball, this time around the filmmakers actually show us the game, such as it is. The middle part of the movie is the big game, but, like everything else in this flick, is an excuse for a series of gags. Interestingly, baseball bats are never used as weapons. Instead, the balls are the instruments of destruction. They bore through people’s heads, they sprout razor blades, they stretch into boomerang-like shapes to whiz around behind you and stab you in the back, and so on.

The gore is mostly CGI blood, which looks terrible because CGI blood looks terrible even in multimillion-dollar Hollywood blockbusters. This film also cranks up the sex appeal, by replacing the zombies from the first movie with a group of scantily-clad babes, each with her own killer baseball moves. The juvenile facility is run by a sinister, cruel woman who, we’re told, is the granddaughter of a Nazi sympathizer, and she still follows his ideals. This leads to a lot of, I guess, jokes in which she and her stooges parade around in Nazi outfits before getting brutally slaughtered by baseballs.

The humor is as broad and over-the-top as the gore. As this is essentially a jail story, there’s a lot of gross-out slapstick involving cavity searches. One nerdy character gets nosebleeds, which also go to explosive extremes, filling the screen with more excess CGI blood. As Jubei, Takaguchi does his tough guy swagger that he usually does, and his mock intensity hits the right level of seriousness in contrast to all the goofiness around him. The movie hits its high point when a huge, clunky cyborg steps onto the ball field to duke it out with Jubei. It’s during this scene that the silliness and the carnage hit just the right balance.

Deadball works best as an alternative to the same-old, same-old. If you’re getting sick of the usual Hollywood recycled scripts and ideas, here’s a movie that takes standard filmmaking traditions and gleefully throws a fiery baseball straight into its guts.

The Blu-ray looks surprisingly good for a movie made on the cheap. Colors are bright and vibrant, especially the unnaturally bright red blood, and the sound is appropriately booming. Bonus features kick off with a short film that ties into feature (more random silliness, basically), followed by a making-of featurette, cast interviews, and trailers.

Deadball is trash, but trash is all it was ever intended to be. No one will ever call it a good film, but there are some laughs to be had for drunken movie night with your buddies.

The Verdict


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