Saturday, August 27, 2011

This Movie Doesn't Have Enough Balls: "Battlefield Baseball" (2003)

The exploitation fan in me could not wait to slam this sucker in the DVD player and be blown off the couch by wall to wall sick comedy and sicker gore. Instead, I was "mildly amused" for about an hour and a half.

Seido High School has an incredible baseball team. Everyone but nerdy student Four Eyes (Atsushi Ito) is at their best, and they are totally prepared for the big tournament coming up. Rumors spread around school about the new student transferring in, Jubeh (Tak Sakaguchi), and then the school's principal Kocho gets horrific news.

Seido will be playing Gedo High School in the tourney's opening round. Gedo is made up of monstrous, gray skinned zombies who literally kill their opponents. Jubeh is spotted playing a new kind of baseball- fighting baseball- and is recruited to join the team (think Jackie Earle Haley in the original "The Bad News Bears"). Jubeh refuses, singing a song about why (his father was killed in a game of catch), and Seido is annihilated by Gedo.

Our heroic team bands together to play Gedo again, complete with Jubeh, some robotics, and touching narration explaining the bigger philosophies of the game...from a dog.

With the cool DVD cover, I was expecting something completely different. Yes, there are some laughs in "Battlefield Baseball." The Head Teacher who is in a constant state of hysterics. Jubeh's tortured turmoil at going back to baseball. The hilarious cheerleaders. Jubeh's family reunion. The constant use of slapstick. All kind of funny. The gore is badly done, though. The fake blood looks really fake, as does the fake body parts. The zombie make-up is cheap and unconvincing.

For a horror comedy, the film does not seem to get either one right. I wanted the gore and the laughs to be bigger and make an impression on my otherwise jaded conscience. Instead, I sat watching the film with a goofy grin on my face, and forgot it pretty soon after. Hot Sakaguchi looks like a Japanese Johnny Depp, and Yamaguchi's direction is over the top and often very clever.

Subversive Cinema does another good DVD job, with making-of features, a really goofy subtitled commentary, strange short films, and trailers. I wish the film had been as good as the hype and extras. (* * *) out of five stars.