Battlefield Baseball review by The Grim Ringler

So it comes to me that now I have to review a movie where I honestly cannot tell you what it means or why it exists. Is it fun? Sure, in a completely mindless way, which I suppose is what it meant to be – mindless fun. As my friend Oktober said, this is essentially a Japanese manga (essentially longer, more bombastic comic books), and it captures that mood and insane chaos wonderfully. But that doesn’t make this Japanese action-comedy a good movie.

Set in a high school just before the beginning of the new baseball season, the school’s principal, an ex baler himself, is giddy at the thought of a successful season and landing in the championship game, something he was never able to do during his own days. When he finds out that in order to get to the championship game his team must play Gedo, a team he dealt with in his own past, a team known for its own brutal brand of baseball called Battlefield Baseball, and the principal knows there is no way his team, as good as they may be, cannot compete with this rival. On the verge of forfeiting the entire baseball season, the principal is distraught., until that is a mysterious new student with a very lengthy criminal record arrives. During a fight with a gang, the boy shows off some brilliant baseball skills and suddenly there is hope again for the principal’s dreams. The team doesn’t take the idea of the new kid, the coach, and a couple of people that used to play baseball in their youth (one of these people being killed and re-born in another body time and again for no apparent reason) so they sneak into the game against Gedo, who appear as half-ghouls, half-zombies and who are known to win by killing their opponents in a baseball style that has nothing to do with baseball save for the bats. The initial game is a massacre and the entire team is killed, the ‘star’ having been corralled and put in jail over night. Just as it appears that the team will have to forfeit its match to Gedo though he appears and a team is cobbled together. Again though, it’s a massacre, and the Gedo team leaves victorious. The season is over. All is lost. But just as things look their darkest, all the other teams that Team Gedo have beaten come together to beg the principal to get the star back, to get him to play baseball again (he had, as a child, sworn not to play again after killing his father with his unstoppable pitch, he played the first game against Gedo but it was half-hearted and didn’t use all of his skill), and to finally defeat Gedo. And, after a couple of very strange revelations (the kid that becomes the best friend of the star player turns out to be his brother and that boy’s brother {played by a creepy guy, EEEK!} is really his mother. Whabathahuh?) the team tracks Gedo to its island home and one final contest is played, this time a no-holds-barred affair where the winning team is the one that leaves with their lives.

Good god, I swear to you, I make this film sound moderately normal. It ain’t. People fly around as they attack one another. Characters die and then return, brought back by supernatural forces that are just sorta there to give out advice. And I’ll be damned if I can figure out how this has anything to do with baseball. Is there baseball in the game? Well, they use bats. And there is a baseball team. But that’s about as far as it goes. This is as weird and silly as you might imagine, the paramount of this being when the ‘star’ baseball player breaks into song to tell the story of his killing his father with his unstoppable pitch. This is an oddly engrossing film though. It’s made with so much energy and with so much goofiness that it’s hard not to be enthralled by the film. But it isn’t a good movie at all. It’s a unique and interesting one, which is a very big difference. The ‘star’ may look familiar as he is the lead from the cult horror film Versus, and he does add a mysteriousness to the main character but it isn’t a really interesting character, which sadly plagues the film. The biggest issue I guess I have is that there is no real depth to the bad guys. They are just evil, and that’s it. Which is great if this is a cartoon, but it isn’t, it’s a movie, and as such, to really get involved in the game and the life or death aspect of it you need to have a reason to root for the goodies and boo the baddies. We don’t have that. Here we just have to accept that good is who we root for, plain and simple.

If you are a big fan of Asian films then you might get a kick out of its weirdness but the casual viewer will just shake their head in confusion. Is it a bad movie? Not at all, it’s well made, and has a lot of energy, and if nothing else, you have to admire the utter strangeness to this whole affair, but it isn’t a movie I would choose to see again. It’s as forgettable as any number of American action movies that are released here every year and that’s a shame as, with a bit more plot this coulda been a really good cult film.


5 out of 10 Jackasses
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