DIRECTOR Yudai Yamaguchi WRITER Keita Tokaji; Yudai Yamaguchi STARS Kai Atô; Bobby; Mickey Curtis DVD Now
With more cheese and corn than a gorgonzola crispbread, Deadball is intended to be just that; it is exploitative, splatter-comedy fun.
Having accidentally killed his father with a pyrotechnic baseball pitch, Jubeh (Tak Sakaguchi) gives up the sport to become a notorious criminal. Eventually, his exploits lead him to incarceration at the Pterodactyl Juvenile Reformatory, a detention centre for boys run by Ishihara, the granddaughter of a World War 2 Nazi. Here they are fed vomit for breakfast and subjected to overly enthusiastic cavity searches. Ishihara forces Jubeh to play baseball for the prison team and she sets up a game against the girls of St. Black Dahlia High School; thus the film builds to a baseball death match against Japanese goth chicks. It is Field Of Dreams meets Battle Royale — but sleazier!
With a nod to 1970s Nazisploitation, Ishihara’s bizarre sidekick is called Ilsa, and it is this self-awareness, without being too knowing, that gives Deadball its charms. The film knows its limitations and, within those parameters, plays to its strengths effectively. It does employ some jarringly cheap CGI, but this is mainly for blood splatter and is more than compensated for by very entertaining physical effects. Fans of old-school horror will enjoy the over-the-top latex work, which includes baseballs lodged in eye sockets and faces embedded with a dozen pencils.
As an overall experience it does feel like watching a comic book play out on screen — and not in a Walking Dead sense. The viewer must be prepared to switch off their brain for this film to be enjoyable, and for this reason it’s unfortunate that the running time feels about 20 minutes too long. Other than that, it is hugely entertaining for those moments when you are in the mood to watch a man try to drown his own hand to avoid having to play baseball to the death.