Battlefield Baseball (2003)

Battlefield Baseball PosterEasily much better than the previous “greatest movie about baseball in Japan,” 1992’s Mr. Baseball starring Tom Selleck, Battlefield Baseball succeeds because of the relative dearth of baseball-related antics (as well as the dearth of Tom Selleck) and instead uses the trappings of baseball merely as a way to get across its message that everyone wants to feel loved – even a high school baseball team of homicidal mutants.

The trappings of baseball are used in scenes where characters end up impaled by baseball bats, injected with poison with specially designed bats, and use the biggest catcher’s mitt you’ve ever seen when trying to catch the main character’s Super Tornado Pitch.

Other than the fact, that the Super Tornado Pitch never was used in a save situation, I have no reservations about recommending this movie to baseball fans everywhere who find real baseball boring and don’t mind a story that lacks any internal logic but compensates for it by having its shock ending turn out to be that the dog of an alcoholic fan was the guy narrating everything.

As every real baseball fan knows, the only reason for living is winning the Koshien Tournament. Though I am unsure what this is, if it really exists, or if I even spelled it right, the principal of Seido High is obsessed with having his baseball team win it.

With such a dedication to sport though also comes a high emotional price if you even get a whiff of failure. So it is that the principal is quite devastated when Head Teacher arrives with the morning paper and the sports section announces that their opponent in the opening round of the tourney will be Gedo High!

Those of you whose baseball knowledge is strictly of a provincial nature probably have never heard of Gedo and their baseball squad. Gedo’s team is made up of, um, well, they’re sort of non-traditional students.

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Most of them have greenish grey skin and all of them carry some kind of deadly weapon. One guy runs around with a butterfly knife, hooks his Walkman up to his neck to speak, and has his head wrapped up in bloody mummy bandages. Long story short on this team is that they literally kill whatever team they face on the field. Gedo High is quite obviously a vocational high school.

The principal absorbs what this means and does what any fanatical coach would do when confronted with such a set back. He collapses onto the floor, curls up, and whimpers softly while Head Teacher looks on before finally becoming so uncomfortable that he leaves.

The principal though isn’t the only one with problems. Four Eyes has been dispatched by Matsui Gorilla to go get a baseball he hit out of the park at the school. Four Eyes is a wimpy ball player who isn’t very good, but plays solely for the love of the game. (See how stupid baseball is?)

While attempting to retrieve the ball he runs into a hood who bullies him. All of this bullying interrupts the nap that Jubeh is taking and he wakes up pissed and proceeds to beat up the bully. He also beats up the bully’s gang. Finally, he takes on the gang’s leader, Bancho!

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Bancho is an ugly, crabby, blonde haired kid who thinks his Fighting Baseball brand of kung fu is as good as Jubeh’s.

Jubeh prevails and the fight ends with Bancho flying through the air and landing somewhere, presumably dead. The whole time this fight is happening, the principal and much of the school are watching. Instead of stopping the fight like most of these pansy educators probably would have done, the principal uses the incident to scout Jubeh’s skills. Needless to say, he’s impressed and desperately wants Jubeh on the team.

In the grand tradition of such grand sports movies as Hoosiers, the guy with the most talent refuses to play the game for personal reasons. Jubeh explains everything to Four Eyes during a quieter moment. By singing a syrupy ballad!

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Despite Four Eyes having convinced him to play though, on the day of the big game, Jubeh is nowhere to found and Seido has to fight Gedo on their own resulting in most of the Seido team getting killed. For reasons I don’t think were ever explained, Jubeh missed the team bus because he was in prison.

By the time he escapes and makes it to the stadium it’s littered with the body parts of his teammates. Even Jubeh gets killed!

Jubeh gets resurrected though and goes to Gedo High’s home field (located on Invincible Hell Island) and challenges them to a fight to the finish.

But he won’t have to do it alone! Both Gorilla and Head Teacher were brought back from the dead by turning them into cyborgs. Four Eyes is still okay though he ends up with a poison bat stuck up his ass. Even the principal is there and a homely cheerleader volunteers! A totally bizarre, but not out of place finish ensues.

If you don’t mind overlooking some of the questionable effects, embrace many of the pointless touches and stuff that just never made any sense at all (the changing faces of Bancho, the fact that a team of freaks can’t get in trouble for killing people if it happens during a “game”, the alcoholic guy with the dog) and feel comfortable sitting through a film aimed at hyperactive kung fu manga fans who would never in a million years be able to sit through a single inning of real baseball, you’ll do alright. It easily contains enough action, drop dead stupid moments, and over-caffeinated camera work to keep you from hitting the exits before at least the seventh inning stretch.

© 2014 MonsterHunter

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