Director: Yudai Yamaguchi
Starring: Tak Sakaguchi, Mickey Curtis, Erina, Mari Hoshino, Miho Ninagawa
Dead Ball revolves around Jubeh Yakyu (Tak Sakaguchi), a chain-smoking teenager with an unnatural gift for baseball. As an adolescent, he accidentally killed his father with a pitch and has since been on the road to juvenile delinquency. After being sent to the Pterodactyl Juvenile Reform School, he is recruited by the Nazi headmistress for the baseball team. Finding he, and his fellow inmates forced into the game, they are unprepared for their opponents, the terrorist girls from St. Black Dahlia High School. Stuck in a baseball game to the death, can Jubeh survive the carnage of a blood-soaked game of baseball like no other?
As a spiritual follow-up to the wild Battlefield Baseball, Yudai Yamaguchi re-teams with Tak Sakaguchi for this effort. A splatter comedy at its core, the film features, ridiculously over the top deaths, sights gags, dirty language, and arterial sprays by the boatload.
Tak plays his role very seriously, and while I am not as enamored of his work these days as I once was, he is certainly better than a lot of his recent work. Most of the cast has ultimately forgettable roles and it makes sense, the majority of them don’t make it out alive. Comedy is decidedly Japanese, though not the type I like. Low brow humor abounds, particularly a very unfunny cavity search joke that gets revisited a few times. Some bits are funny, but overall I just couldn’t get into it.
The film looks very dark for some reason and lighting is certainly an issue. Visual effects are okay, but not very impressive, though the absurdity of the events on screen seems to indicate that it may have been intentional. Sets are sparse and lightly populated; this is definitely a smaller scale production than that of Battlefield Baseball. A highlight was the music; it was varied and very appropriate for the scenes. Overly melodramatic swells and high intensity rock music go hand in hand for the many abrupt scene changes throughout the picture.
Overall, this is a pretty disappointing film. It has an audience for sure, but I am definitely over the whole ‘splatterhouse’ genre of films coming out of Japan these days. While it was not for me, fans who enjoy this type of film can automatically put this on the top of your must see list, as it is better, though not by much, than films like Tokyo Gore Police and Machine Girl. In the end, the film’s biggest strength, in my opinion, is its short running time. Ouch.
You may enjoy this film if you liked: Battlefield Baseball, Samurai School, Tokyo Gore Police, and Machine Girl
Special thanks to Well Go USA for providing a screening copy!