Tuesday, February 9, 2010

FIREBALL (2009) - 3/5 stars

Fireball 1
Release: 2009
Director: Thanakorn Pongsuwan
Writer: Thanakorn Pongsuwan, Kiat Sasanandana, Taweewat Wantha, Adirek Wattaleela
Cast: Preeti Barameenanat, Khanutra Chuchuaysuwan, Kumpanat Oungsoongnern, Phutharit Prombandal, 9 Million Sam, Arucha Tosawat
Soundtrack: Giant Wave
Claim to fame: it's a movie about a made up sport, it's a movie about a made up sport that combines basketball with muay thai, excessive shakycam and bad editing (nearly every review on Netflix complains about this), it stars a guy named 9 Million Sam
Rating: 3/5 stars

You just got out of prison only to find out that your twin brother is a coma, thanks to the very same street thugs he brokered money from to ensure your release. What do you do? If it's the 80's and you're Jean Claude Van Damme, you join an illegal underground fighting ring to get revenge. If it's 2009 and you're in Thailand, apparently you join a full-contact basketball team dubbed Fireball.

Fireball 2

It's an illegal, underground circuit - see? You can tell by the chain-link fences

As other Netflix reviewers have mentioned, Fireball really bears little to no resemblance to basketball. There's a hoop and there's a ball but it's not so much about lay-ups and free-throws as it is "after everyone has beaten the shit out of each other, whoever's left standing might feel like throwing the ball in the net." Which is an admittedly ridiculous premise but it could have made for a guilty pleasure flick, especially when you toss brutal Muay Thai fighting into the mix.

Fireball 4

"Don't even THINK about making that lay-up."

The problem with "Fireball" is that suffers from an overabundance of that quick-cut, shakycam filmmaking style that's in vogue these days, which renders the action on the court nearly incomprehensible at times. This is the kind of movie that will switch from digital video to film stock mid-fight scene just because the director thinks it looks cool. In other words, visually it's a mess. It moots the point of full contact sports when the "contact" part has been captured by a spastic, whirling camera and then sliced to bits by your editor. It's clearly an attempt to cover up the lack of fighting experience on the part of much of the cast - but why would I want to see shakycam Muay Thai and parkour when I can see the real thing in movies like "Ong Bak" and "District B-13"? Good question.

Fireball 8

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, he's STILL holding the ball!

For better or worse, "Fireball" stays on my good side thanks to the pure novelty of the "sport" itself and the few shots that do actually convey some bone-crunching brutality. What other movie has the rival team's manager gleefully toss lead pipes into the middle of the court for his team to bash the good guys - and nobody does anything about it, because it's technically not against the rules? That is the unique charm of "Fireball," my friends.

Fireball 9

Notice the tiny dude in the background holding a basketball?

That's about how much this movie has to do with real sports.

POSTNOTE: Netflix has another movie from director Thanakorn Pongsuwan available on Instant Viewing. It's called "Demon Warriors" and it's supposedly something like a supernatural take on "Heroes." I might have to watch it one of these days just to see how it compares to "Fireball." Perhaps Pongsuwan is out to steal the shakycam crown from director Paul Greengrass ("Bourne Supremacy")?

Fireball 6

His nipples are gonna hurt tomorrow.

POST-POSTNOTE: Wait, does the tagline on the American DVD cover REALLY say "Win for Survive, Loose for Die"? Oh my God...

1 comment:

  1. Wow that Engrish IS really bad. You'd think they could have at least one guy who makes sure that the translation is correct before shipping this all over the world.

    I'll have to check out this other guy's movie (on instant) to see if I can handle the handycam shake.