Main cast: Preeti Barameeanat (Tai/Tan), Khanutra Chuchuaysuwan (Pang), Kumpanat Oungsoongnern (Muk), Phutharit Prombandal (Den), 9 Million Sam (Zing), and Arucha Tosawat (Tun)
Director: Thanakorn Pongsuwan
I don’t normally associate basketball with displays of masculine aggression, but Fireball, a sleeper Thai movie, manages to change my mind. Brutal, absolutely violent, and unapologetically brainless, it is like a slightly more realistic Mortal Kombat movie minus intergalactic aliens bent on conquest.
By the way, the English subtitles of this movie are seriously messed up and I don’t understand a word of Thai, so I get some details wrong, please don’t look at me. I have to make do with what I have, okay? Anyway, in this movie, we meet Tai, a young fellow who has just been released from prison thanks to some dealing by his twin brother Tan. Alas, Tan ends up being beaten into a coma during his efforts to help Tai. To make things complicated, Tai is in love with Tan’s girlfriend. Tai soon learns that Tan participated in an underground basketball tournament run by crime bosses recently, so Tai now takes part in a team from the East district to track down the culprits behind Tan’s brutal attack.
The basketball tournaments have only one rule: the first team to score a point wins. To score a point, you can do anything, from beating up the other team to even killing them outright. Tai and his team mates have an uphill and very bloody climb ahead of them, and not all of them will survive the tournament.
Low on plot and high on brutality, Fireball is one of those pulp movies that you should watch only if you enjoy blood scenes of relentless violence. This one is beautifully choreographed, full of adrenaline-charged scenes that manage to nonetheless remain quite realistic without becoming too ridiculous. This movie doesn’t have a high budget, so it’s very dependent on actual stuntmen acting out the fighting instead of special effects. So despite the occasional moments when you can actually see the stuntman’s face during a fight scene, heh, there is an earthy and raw savage quality to those scenes of sweaty hot guys in tight pants doing their best to beat each other bloody. The final confrontation between the two teams, one of which being Tai’s, of course, is especially violent.
If I have one objection to this story, it is the bizarre tendency of Tai’s team to not resort to using weapons when the other teams tend to use them, to devastating result, on Tai and his team members. Come on, after a few rounds of getting beaten by crowbars and stabbed here and there, you’d think they would learn and start bringing their own knives and such into the basketball court.
If you want to watch a movie for a strong story line and good acting, skip this one. But if you want plenty of braindead but fun gore, violence, and blood as well as some perverse eye candy moments (these guys have some of the best abs ever, let’s just say), Fireball may just be the baby to set you on fire.