Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Batter Up

Over the top gore can be a little much sometimes, not because of its intensity but because sometimes, gallons upon gallons of diced appendages that shoot blood like a Nickelodeon approved super soaker just gets dull. In the early 2000s, the Japanese cinema scene learned such a lesson with, in the opinion of many, a few too many of these kinds of all-out horror comedy.
Personally, I tend to find films like Machine Girl and Tokyo Gore Police rather boring in how hard they try without much heart. I wasn't expecting much from Yudai Yamaguchih's Deadball, but maybe life had just been too serious because by the time a baseball found itself lodged in the eye socket of a supporting character for the entire film, I was pretty much a giggling mess.

Quick Plot: Jubeh Yaku is a talented little leaguer enjoying a game of catch with his older father as his younger brother looks on. As his pops beckons him to show what he's really capable of, we learn a pretty neat fact:
Jubeh is capable of flying to the sky and throwing a fastball so hot that it tears right through his beloved father's head.
Orphaned and guilt-ridden, Jubeh grows up into a successful teenage criminal with a touch of vigilantism in his heart. He ends up in a ridiculously strict juvenile facility that just so happens to have a struggling baseball team called the Pterodactyl Gauntlets in need of an ace. After an intense knife-in-face, metal-plate-to-groin, fly-in-mouth, and much much more battle, the strict, Ilsa-esque Neo-Nazi warden Ishihara promises Jubeh that his teammates will be pardoned if they win a big game against an even tougher girls' prison. 

The odds are not in the favor of our little dinosaurs, who quickly learn that the sexier the female juvenile delinquent, the deadlier she is with a curve ball. Their barbaric game is overseen by Ishihara and her gang of German pals, all who feast on sausages and sing praise to Hitler as a few teenage felons watch their teammates suffer a variety of violent deaths.

It's kooky.

I've seen my share of zany violence in genre cinema, and for reasons I can't exactly pinpoint, Deadball made me supremely happy. Sure, much of it is gross and all of it is ridiculous, but when you're in the right mood to laugh at a kid getting a baseball stuck in his eyeball and walking around the rest of the movie with it still there, there is a lot of beauty to be found. Don't be angry at me for recommending a movie that involves a woman gleefully pulling baby dolls out of juvenile delinquents' anuses during a cavity search. I warned you. 

High Points
Some of the dialog is genuinely funny, with jokes that take their time in being setup and are ultimately delivered with the perfect tone. The best example is easily when Jubeh's younger prison mate launches into a long monologue detailing the crimes of both his team and their terrifying rivals. It's a thing of beauty

Low Points
It's not necessarily out of character for a teenage boy to hate homosexuality, but having the film's hero drop some pretty insulting and homophobic insults is fairly disappointing

Lessons Learned
MSG salt and carefully used telephones are excellent weapons to use in martial arts

The pitcher wears number 21

Super strict futuristic prisons will conduct thorough anal searches to ensure you don't sneak weapons or baby dolls into the facilities, but it will still be okay to sport your own groovy hemp poncho on the inside

If you're already a fan of the Japanese splatter genre, there's little question that you'll probably enjoy Deadball. For others, it's hard to say. Maybe it was the combination of its baseball-themed humor and the fact that I really needed to watch something mindless that let this movie crack me up so hard. Deadball is, let's face it, a rather silly explosion of 90 minutes, but if you're looking for a gory horror comedy that involves robots and fastballs, it's hard to find any better. 

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