Deadball Blu-ray Review
Henry Rowengartner has nothing on this guy. Jubeh Yakyu’s arm is so strong that when his father asks “Can’t you throw any faster?” during a game of catch, he hurls the ball so hard and so fast that it catches fire and strikes his face, causing blood and brains to spill out of his forehead. “I’ll never play ball again!”
Years later, Jubeh (Tak Sakaguchi, Ryuhei Kitamura’s VERSUS) is found guilty of being responsible for 50 deaths in a mere seven days, and is locked away in a juvenile delinquent center called the Pterodactyl Juvenile Reformatory. It’s swarming with cockroaches and run by Ishihara (Miho Ninagawa, who appeared in two episodes of the anthology series MASTERS OF HORROR), the granddaughter of a Nazi freund. Her number two goes by Ilsa (Miho Harita), no doubt a nod to the Nazisploitation mascot portrayed by Dyanne Thorne.
This is the sort of prison where the staff positions its inmate on all fours and goes elbow-deep to inflict severe, nearly life-ending pain and pull out anything they can find (is that a child’s doll?). Any chance of freedom is a guaranteed visit to the psychiatrist. That’s a chance Jubeh is willing to take, and when he’s offered freedom in exchange for joining the reformatory’s baseball team, The Gauntlets, he takes it. Their opponents will be Saint Black Dahlia High School. Baseball? More like deadball!
DEADBALL is directed by Yudai Yamaguchi, who previously helmed YAKUZA WEAPON, MEATBALL MACHINE and BATTLEFIELD BASEBALL, and co-wrote the aforementioned VERSUS. More of a draw for Japanese cinema fans might be that it was produced by Sushi Typhoon, the studio responsible for ALIEN VS. NINJA, MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD, COLD FISH, HELLDRIVER, and KARATE-ROBO ZABORGAR. Going on just that, we know that DEADBALL will be a relentless splatterfest. And to no surprise, it is, complete with impalings, scalpings, severed noses, exploding and squished bodies, and, of course, baseballs rigged to turn into garrotes. (There is much more, but spoiling any further would ruin half of the fun.)
And if you can handle the levels of bright red blood that come along with Japanese splatter flicks, then DEADBALL is highly enjoyable. The special effects mostly hit, but there are times when viewers may find themselves laughing at the production values and not the over-the-top violence. One scene that stands out is when Jebhu takes the mound and immediately causes blood to erupt from anyone in the field—a moment that looks like it was completed with Microsoft Paint. But parts like that are few and fans of the subgenere (the sub-subgenre might be “baseball death films”) won’t be disappointed.
Video: 1.78:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. Well Go USA gives DEADBALL a nice, natural transfer, complete with faithful tones and colors.
Audio: Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Subtitles in English. The audio track is a major draw for this disc, as it boasts effective SFX, particularly in the more violent moments.
Spinoff Short: FINAL DEADBALL (20:43): This short film loses a lot of the appeal of the original, going light on the blood and skipping baseball altogether.
Making of DEADBALL (12:18) gives fans a behind-the-scenes look at the movie’s production.
Cast Interviews (7:36): A number of cast members, including Tak Sakaguchi, Miho Ninagawa and Mickey Curtis sit down to discuss DEADBALL and their characters.
Sushi Typhoon Trailers