Splatter fantasy comedy
2011, colour, 16:9, 98 mins
Directed by Yamaguchi Yudai (山口雄大)
By Derek Elley
Fri, 29 July 2011, 01:30 AM (HKT)
Gleefully non-PC prison/baseball fantasy with energy and effects triumphing over a small budget. Genre festivals and ancillary.
Japan, the present day. While practising baseball pitch and catch one day, young Yakyu Jubeh discovers he has super powers and accidentally kills his father with the ball. He is watched by his younger adopted brother, Nakagawa Musashi. Some time later, Jubeh (Sakaguchi Tak), now 17, has become the most vicious juvenile in Japanese history, responsible for 50 murders in a week. After being caught, he's sent to the tough Pterodactyl Juvenile Reformatory, run by governor Mifune (Tayama Ryosei), until his trial. Jubeh shares a cell with bespectacled 16-year-old killer Suzuku Shinosuki, aka Four Eyes (Hoshino Mari), and also comes into conflict with chief warden Ishihara (Ninagawa Miho), granddaughter of a WW2 collaborator in the Nazis' genocide programme. Jubeh finds that Musashi was recently in the same prison but died there. Ishihara, who organises the prison baseball Juvie League, wants Jubeh to take his place in the prison's team, known as the Pterodactyl Gauntlets, and use the ball that Musashi left behind. Sinced the accidental death of his father, Jubeh has sworn off baseball but after Ishihara threatens to kill Four Eyes he eventually agrees, on condition that the prison food improves and all the players are pardoned. The next day the Pterodactyls take on the St. Black Dahlia High School team, composed of young female psycho-butchers, in an epic match.
Following the below-par Yakuza Weapon 極道兵器 (2011), Nikkatsu's Sushi Typhoon series is back on track with its eighth entry, Deadball デッドボール (2011), from the same team of YAMAGUCHI Yudai 山口雄大 and martial artist SAKAGUCHI Tak 坂口拓 but with Yamaguchi solo-billed this time as director. The title, from the baseball term when a game is temporarily frozen and runners can't move from their bases, sounds like a sequel to the duo's 2003 high school-set Battlefield Baseball 地獄甲子園 (2003). There are certainly some similarly named characters — Takaguchi plays Jubeh, who's sworn off the game, and his friend is nicknamed Four Eyes — and the plot revolves around a game against some deadly opponents. But Deadball is more a low-rent, comedic riff on the earlier, manga-based film: Four Eyes is a teenage killer, cutely played in travesto by 30-year-old actress HOSHINO Mari 星野真里 (Sayonara Midori さよならみどりちゃん (2004)), Jubeh is a juvenile mass-murderer sent to a prison run by a crazed neo-Nazi wardress, and the rival team is composed of scantily-dressed psycho-killer babes.
Shot in derelict buildings, and with most of the slim budget seemingly going on the okay special and visual effects, the movie flies on pure glee and inventiveness, and even manages to field a passable combat android in the latter stages before spinning off into a sequence set in North Korea, where a Kim Jeong-il lookalike offers to help Jubeh get revenge on Japan. The least politically correct and most sophomoric of the Sushi Typhoon series, Deadball doesn't just rely on gore-fountains and transgressive humour. An early sequence of Jubeh's cavity search on arriving at the prison prepares the audience for the movie's overall tone, and the fight soon after between Jubeh and the neo-Nazi wardress (played with career abandon by 40-something NINAGAWA Miho 蜷川みほ) combines comedy and outrageousness in deft measure. The movie is no masterpiece, and could have benefited from a bit more time and money, but on its own let's-just-have-some-fun level manages to keep Nikkatsu's franchise bubbling.
ContactSales: Nikkatsu, Tokyo (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Premiere: Fantasia Film Festival, Montreal, 15 Jul 2011. Theatrical release: Japan, 23 Jul 2011.
Presented by Nikkatsu (JP). Produced by Pipeline (JP). Executive producer: Sugihara Akifumi. Producers: Chiba Yoshinori, Torisawa Shin.
Script: Tokaji Keita. Adaptation: Yamaguchi Yudai. Photography: Oka Masakazu. Editing: Hori Zensuke. Music: Morino Nobuhiko. Original song: Matsuishi Gel. End song: Piano Zombie (One Night Syndrome). Production design: Fukada Nori. Costumes: Miyamoto Masae. Sound: Kureishi Yoshifumi. Action: Shimomura Yuji. Visual effects: Kazuno Tsuyoshi. Special moulding/make-up: Nishimura Yoshihiro.
Cast: Sakaguchi Tak (Yakyu Jubei), Hoshino Mari (Suzuku Shinosuki, aka Four Eyes), Ninagawa Miho (Ishihara), Tayama Ryosei (Mifune), Suga Takamasa, Pe Jyonmyon, Harita Miho, Mickey Curtis, Yamadera Koichi, a lala Nakaji, Kamiyoshihara Yo, Sai Akihiko, Bobby, Teru, Dennis Gunn, Ato Kai, Shimazu Kentaro, eRina, Lina, Yu-ko, Tomo-chan, Nanami, Emijay, Erica, Erico, Mit$uki, Fukazawa Taiga, Watanabe Syunta, Ryu Suwaru, Nishida Natsumi, Murakami, Megumi, Mikani Rei.