Dismembered bodies. Zombies. Tornado pitches. Cherry blossoms. Random naked guys. Cyborgs. Chainsaws. And a form of baseball where no rules apply -- and only one team comes out alive.
Now imagine all of that, crammed into a sports spoof with a Monty Pythonesque sense of humor. "Battlefield Baseball" has not a single moment of genuine plot or character development -- instead, Yudai Yamaguchi fills it with ludicrous twists, delightfully sick action, and a deeply irreverent attitude towards all sports movies.
Seido High School has a very real chance of getting to Koshien Stadium, courtesy of Matsui Gorilla and a bunch of other talented players. Then Principcal Kocho learns who their opponent is -- Gedo High, a savage bunch of green-skinned mutant zombie types who dismember opposing teams.
Fortunately the new transfer student Jubeh (Tak Sakaguchi) has incredible baseball skills -- but he refuses, unwilling to play because of a tragic accident. Four Eyes (Atsushi Ito) convinces him to join the team -- but Jubeh is mysteriously missing when Gedo shows up for the game, resulting in a mass slaughter of the remaining baseball players.
But after a near-death experience and a scuffle with Four Eyes' mom, Jubeh is raring to take revenge on the team that slaughtered the Seido players -- if he can remember how to do his most lethal pitch. But even with that pitch and a very odd new team, Jubeh must still contend with the psychopathic Coach from Gedo High -- and the deadly Poison Bat!
There is literally not a single serious moment in all of "Battlefield Baseball." Really. This is absurdity on a Monty Python level, only with more applauding audiences appearing at dramatic moments. In fact, that is much of its charm -- "Battlefield Baseball" spends all its time relentlessly mocking sports movies of the drippiest kind.
In particular, it spoofs the sentimental stuff (the ludicrous "family reunion"), contrived plot twists (Jubeh is arrested for no reason), deus ex machinae, sudden changes of heart, and an obligatory romance. And lest a single sports cliche be left unmocked, Yamaguchi trots out an Inspiring Message near the end, reminding us that baseball is all about life and love of the game. Even the dialogue ("I've been a head teacher here for twenty-five years. I'm always ready to sacrifice myself for Seido!") is hilarious.
That would only be moderately funny in most spoofs. But Yamaguchi takes it WAY further, by making everything as insane, stupid and ludicrous as possible -- people burst into song for no reason, run around with swords, wear gold loincloths, turn into cyborgs, and one character is constantly being "reborn" with new actors. And everything important that happens has a large audience standing by to applaud.
Yamaguchi also piles on the gore and grotesquerie. Ears are ripped off, crowds are gunned down, players are impaled on bats, and every game ends with a bunch of bloody plastic limbs strewn around. It's really sick, and really hysterical.
The gorgeous Tak Sakaguchi is put to good use here -- not only does he get to show off his polished physical skills, but he's hilarious at the Ruggedly Handsome Hero ("My dad told me to, when I was dead ten minutes ago!"). Wind blows through his hair, he sheds a manly tear, skids across a baseball field on his stomach, and spends several minutes savagely beating a rubber dummy.
You can tell that this must have been fun. The other actors also do great jobs -- Ito is excellent as Four Eyes (yes, that is his name), a dweeb with a deep love of baseball. And the guys playing the psychotic Coach, the stressed-out Kocho, the bestial Gorilla and the rabidly enthusiastic Head Teacher all do wonderful jobs, no matter how kooky their characters.
"Battlefield Baseball" revels in the mockery of your average sports movie, when it's not tossing around body parts and magical cherry blossoms. A deliciously sick, warped little comedy.
on 17 December 2005
How can you combine the genres Sport, Musical, Martial Arts and Zombie Horror together? Battlefield Baseball. Let's just say the acting is awful on purpose, as this film is supposed to be Crazy.
Its about two baseball teams (Seido High & Gedo High) who play a match against each other. Well, apart from the fact that the Gedo team look like Slipknot rejects, and they massacre the other team at every game. And I mean massacre. There is just so much blood, gore and violence involved. Characters are killed off and brught back to life constantly. In short, its not for viewers with weak stomachs.
I found a sick sense of humor in this film, and I was laughing all the way through it. Believe me, it is sick but funny, and I certainly enoyed watching it. I'd recommend it.
I don't even know where to begin with this one, as Jigoku kôshien (aka Battlefield Baseball or Battlefield Stadium) is unique in every sense of the word, a wholly indescribable film that must be seen to be believed. If I laid out the whole plot of this movie for you, you wouldn't believe a word of it - and that would be perfectly understandable, since no one in his right mind would make a movie like this. You have to love Japanese culture and society - rather than lock Yudai Yamaguchi up in a padded cell somewhere, they actually allowed him to direct this movie, and now we can all enjoy the world's only - as far as I know - zombie baseball kung fu musical comedy. Okay, if you happen to have seen the film Versus, you might find this film less shockingly different, since Jigoku kôshien basically comes to you "from the team that brought you Versus," or if you've read the manga comic by Gataro Man (serialized in Shonen Jump magazine) on which this film was based, you'll know what kind of kooky humor to expect going in, but a lot of us Westerners will walk into this film completely unprepared for what is about to happen - after all, we've been conditioned by Hollywood to expect no trace of originality or creativity in our movies.
We all know the Japanese take their baseball seriously, but at Seido High School, the shared determination to win the Koshien Tournament makes the most avid of Texas high school football fans look like a polite crowd at the PGA Open. Kocho, the team's principal and coach - well, let's just say he really, really wants to win. And with the slugger Gorilla anchoring the team, he has just the boys to go all the way. Then disaster strikes - Seido's first opponent is the infamous Gedo High. These, uh, boys play by their own rules - actually, they have only one rule, and that is that there are no rules. Rather than waste their time actually hitting, fielding, and the like, they just go out and kill their opponents. Literally. I'm talking limbs strewn all over the field, heads on pikes, the whole nine yards. Then, just when it seems all is lost, Coach witnesses new transfer student Jubeh (Tak Sakaguchi) wipe out a gang of bullies in an impressive display of "baseball fighting" (you'll want to see this for yourself). Unfortunately, "Jubeh the Baseball" has taken a vow to never play baseball again - for personal reasons.
Wait until you get a load of the Gedo team. They're not exactly human - well, not anymore. The Z word never comes up in the script, but let's just call them zombies for the heck of it. Led by a coach (Yukihito Tanikado) who looks like Jim Carry in The Mask dressed up like Crocodile Dundee, these guys are mean, green killing machines who bring a lot more than baseball bats to the field of play. If you're hoping to see some great baseball action out of these guys, you can forget it; they turn fields of dreams into blood-soaked battlegrounds. The gore is pretty standard low-budget stuff, but that actually suits this unusual film quite well.
Maybe I should stress the fact that Jigoku kôshien is overflowing with humor, much of it of a satirical nature. No sports movie cliché is safe, the couple of short musical numbers completely knock you off balance, and the film's "poignant" moments (such as the weirdest family reunion you've ever seen) are all reinforced quite ingeniously with a gimmick that never gets old. Sure, on paper, the film looks and sounds like a cheesy stink bomb, but it's loads of fun to watch. Just leave your expectations at the door because you won't know what hit you once you settle in for the Jigoku kôshien experience.