Director: Thanakorn Pongsuwan
Writer: Thanakorn Pongsuwan, Kiat Sansanandana, Taweewat Wantha, Adirek Wattaleela
Cast: Preeti Barameeanat, Khanutra Chuchuaysuwan, Kumpanat Oungsoongnern, Phutharit Prombandal, 9 Million Sam, Arucha Tosawat
Running Time: 97 min.
You just got out of prison only to find out that your twin brother is a coma, beaten half-to-death by the same thugs he borrowed money from to ensure your release. So what do you do? If it’s the 80’s and you’re Jean Claude Van Damme, you join an 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.
I should mention that Fireball bears little to no resemblance to actual 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 “everyone beats the crap out of each other and then, if they feel like it, whoever’s left standing might throw the ball in the net.” Which is an admittedly ridiculous premise but it makes for a decent guilty pleasure flick, especially when you toss brutal Muay Thai fighting into the mix.
The only problem with “Fireball” is that it suffers from an overabundance of that quick-cut, shakycam filmmaking style, which renders the action on the court nearly incomprehensible at times. This is the kind of movie that switches from digital video to filmstock mid-fight scene, just because the director thinks it looks cool. Visually, it’s a mess. I mean, it kinda 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. Perhaps it’s an attempt to cover up the lack of fighting experience on the part of much of the cast.
But 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. In what other sports movie are you gonna see the rival team’s manager gleefully toss lead pipes into the middle of the court so his players can bash the good guys’ heads in – and nobody does anything about it, because technically it’s not against the rules? This is the unique charm of “Fireball,” my friends.
HKFanatic’s Rating: 6.5/10