I love baseball. And I
love baseball films. A few years ago I saw a seriously strange
film called Battlefield Baseball,
which combined baseball, horror and martial arts. It was insane, unlike any other
baseball film I’d seen. Director Yudai Yamaguchi’s sequel (well, sort of a sequel) to that film, Dead Ball, is also insane, but actually
a better film. It’s about a young pitcher named Jubeh (Tak Sakaguchi) who is arrested and
forced to play on the prison baseball team.
All Japanese pitchers
have odd wind-ups. But check out Jubeh’s wind-up at the beginning of the film.
His leg nearly touches his face. And then – unexpectedly – he flies off into
the air and hurls a ball down at his father, who is acting as catcher. The ball
catches fire, and hits his father in the head, causing his father to explode.
But before dying, his father compliments the pitch and tells him to take care
of his younger brother. By the way, flying off into space would seem to give
the pitcher an advantage, because the batter can’t see the ball’s release;
however, I do wonder if it might be easier to steal off a guy who launches off
the ground like that.
Jubeh consequently swears
off baseball. Instead, he becomes a criminal.
His father would be proud. Though apparently he’s only killing bad guys.
When he’s arrested, the prisoner in line behind him asks him to kill the bad
guy who lives in his head. That’s great. I do wonder why he’s allowed to wear
boots with spurs on them. But with this film, you just have to accept
everything and go with it.
The warden wants Jubeh to
be on the prison baseball team. And then in a musical montage we’re introduced
to the team. It’s completely silly. Jubeh actually sings the song and winks at
the camera (so yes, for a moment the film is a musical).
That is far from the
craziest thing in the film, however. Wait until you see the medical examination
of the players. Talk about your deep cavity search. And check out what they
find up in there. It’s bloody hilarious. The headmistress of the prison is the
granddaughter of a Nazi collaborator, a man she is clearly quite proud of.
Jubeh’s fight with the headmistress includes pens going through her head and a
fist coming through the phone. This movie revels in its over-the-top insanity.
The team is scheduled to
play a girl’s high school team from St. Black Dahlia High. Yes, seriously. Why
not? These girls are evil. Jubeh’s cell mate lists some of the atrocities
they’ve committed. The game itself is probably the least interesting portion of
the film. But there is a lot of crazy Nazi stuff going on too, as Nazis have
arrived to enjoy the game. So what more could you ask for? How about a Nazi
baseball robot with a special connection to Jubeh? A robot that decides
everyone must die.
Does the film make a lot
of sense? Absolutely not. But it’s really hard not to like this film. It’s
truly enjoyable and a lot of fun. Plus, it has an important message: Baseballs
are not murder weapons.
This DVD has several
bonus features. The first, Final Deadball,
is a short film (approximately 21 minutes) that is a sort of companion piece to
the full-length feature. In this short, a ball player at the prison has a
premonition, so fakes illness and thus escapes death. He is released from
prison. And suddenly baseballs are appearing everywhere, flying out of his
food, flying out of street lights, and each time missing him and causing the
death of someone else. He should have died in the ball game, so now death is
following him. It’s totally a rip-off of Final
Destination – and seemingly unabashedly, as per its
title. Sadly, it’s not very good.
The second bonus features
is Making Of Dead Ball (approximately
12 minutes), with lots of behind-the-scenes footage, but no interviews or
anything like that. The interviews are presented separately in Cast Interviews, in which six cast
members talk about the script and their characters and the director. The DVD also includes the film’s trailer (as
well as trailers for several other films).
Dead Ball is scheduled to be released on Blu-ray and DVD on April
9, 2013 through Sushi Typhoon and Well Go USA Entertainment.