A scene from DEADBALL, directed by Yamaguchi Yudai for Nikkatsu.

Deadball (2011, Yamaguchi Yudai)

No doubt, Deadball is a strange one. And not just because thirty-six year-old Sakaguchi Tak is playing a seventeen year-old and actress Hoshino Mari is playing his sixteen year-old male sidekick. I’m not even sure the suggestion conservative Japanese politicians are really in the pockets of Nazis is Deadball’s strangest feature.

It’s just a messed up movie; I’m shocked it’s not from a manga. Director Yamaguchi and co-writer Tokaji Keita came up with all this insanity on their own. Yamaguchi’s influences for the film appear to be a lot of Sam Raimi (particularly Army of Darkness, the Leone Spaghetti westerns and maybe Escape from New York). Sure, Sakaguchi looks good for his age, but he sells the role because the age disconnect is just part of Yamaguchi’s lunacy.

Deadball’s obviously shot on DV, which doesn’t do it any favors. The CG never feels quite right and it’s always obvious. Actually, the film can probably get away with its more outrageous moments thanks to that artificiality. As the film progresses, one expects Yamaguchi to eventually reference some of the obvious jokes. He never does, even when he draws further attention to them.

The film also jokes at its own mean-spiritedness. It does have its sympathies and it definitely has good guys and bad guys, but it never proposes the viewer should worry too much about caring for anyone.

Deadball’s a strange, bloody delight. Yamaguchi knows how to make it work.

Great music from Morino Nobuhiko.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Yamaguchi Yudai; written by Yamaguchi and Tokaji Keita; director of photography, Oka Masakazu; edited by Hori Zensuke; music by Morino Nobuhiko; production designer, Fukuda Nori; produced by Chiba Yoshinori and Torisawa Shin; released by Nikkatsu.

Starring Sakaguchi Tak (Yakyû Jûbei), Hoshino Mari (Four Eyes) and Ninagawa Miho (Ishihara).


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