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Fireball 2009

May 8, 2011

Fireball (2009)


By John Leavengood

MY CALL:    What’s worse than an “F”?  Is something worse?  My rating of this movie is twenty kicks to the nuts.  How about that?

WHAT TO WATCH INSTEAD:    Whatever it takes, man.  If this is your only option, you must be in Hell.  If you wanted a good sports flick then try Any Given Sunday or Varsity Blues.  For Thai martial arts try Chocolate or Ong-Bak (both of which I reviewed:

IF YOU LIKE THIS, WATCH:    NOTHING!  Nothing ever again.  That would be an appropriate punishment for liking this movie.

            This movie title gave me hope.  “Fireball”.  I imagined Shaolin Soccer with a flaming basketball and Dragonball-done-well wushu wizardry.  It was none of that.  The movie is about a fighting-fusion sports team.

            Before their first game, this team of thrown-together Street Hoops-loving brawlers is nervous because they’ve never played together (as a team) before.  But what do they have to fear?  I’ll explain…Welcome to your first game of Fireball, where the teams are composed of Spidey-sense quick Thai dudes with a mean hook shot and a meaner right hook.  The rules?  Pretty simple:  don’t die.  I feel this movie would have done just fine if the rules were exactly like basketball, except that you could beat each other to a pulp with no fear of a foul.  When the clock hits zero, the highest score would win, right?  That’s not the case here.  During a criminal coaches’ union meeting it is revealed that “the rules have changed since last year.”  The new rules stipulate that whichever team has the last man standing wins regardless of the score.  So why even keep score!?!  Why have a ball?  It’s Rollerball all over again.

It seems that the team’s worries are irrelevant.  If they can kick ass, they’ll do fine.  Despite these rather clear rules the teams, for reasons beyond my comprehension, actually try to play against each other.  They mix elbows, punches and kicks in with dribbling, lay-ups and the like.  Much like watching Dennis Rodman in a game with blind officials, this really should have been cool.  Here, it’s not.  There is no action moment worth mentioning      

       Basketball plus martial arts should equal AWESOME.  But woe is the viewer who shared my misconception.  Making up for none of this disaster, the movie also boasts poor camera work and mediocre film quality.  As the camera shifts in attempts to follow the action the scene is blurred.  The translators’ interpretation of what passes for slang nowadays was also disappointing.  Worse yet, the combat choreography was God-awful!  With the high combat quality of so many foreign and domestic releases, I feel that the action scenes in this movie are an affront to action-moviegoers of any age or nation.

            After suffering through movies like this I just want to blacklist the director or choreographer.  Fireball demonstrates a complete lack of innovation.  If you enjoy martial arts movies, do NOT see this.  If you have an appreciation for martial arts and your friends say they loved this, disown them.  Watching this made me miss The Last Airbender (I NEVER thought I’d say that).

            I’ll submit that there was one fun, marginally acceptably done scene in the whole movie when the members of the team have an interesting practice.  They all start on the roof of a building.  The first one to shoot a basket (in the court at ground level) wins.  Go!  It was like an obstacle course chase scene.  Sadly, I was so overwhelmed with disappointment by the time I got to this scene that I don’t think I even cracked a smile in response.

            The movie also had many elements which we expect from sports movies…

1)  Dude throws a game for money because he’s in financial trouble and has a baby on the way.

2)  Game in the rain.

3)  Loss of a player to injury (= death).

4)  A fight with the coach results in a key player quitting.

5)  There’s a wildcard new guy brought to the team.

            None of these elements performed their intended function as they did so well in Any Given Sunday or Varsity Blues…which is to make me care.

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