Dead Ball (2011) – By Duane L. Martin

Jubeh Yakyu (Tak Sakiguchi) had a promising baseball career going when he was a kid. He had won the semi-finals for his team, but before he could play in the finals, he accidentally killed his father with a killer pitch. After that, he swore he’d never play baseball again. Unfortunately, this all happened in front of his little brother, who saw the whole thing. He later was adopted out to a foster family and ended up acting in kiddy porn films until one day he snapped on one of his gay co-stars and attacked him, as well as the rest of the crew. He was deemed to be beyond reform, and was sent to juvenile prison. Jubeh hadn’t seen him in a very long time.

Jubeh himself had grown into a vigilante of sorts, and had become a bit of a folk hero for killing those elements in society that the authorities couldn’t touch. When he was finally caught, before he was sent to prison, the governor had a meeting with him. He made a deal with Jubeh to try to take down the warden of the prison, who was a separatist and whose father had worked for Adolph Hitler. She was proud of her father and her Nazi heritage, and used it as a model of discipline for her prison.

Every year, the prison forms a baseball team, and they’re sent to play against other teams from other reform schools and prisons. The warden wants desperately for Jubeh to play, but he’s resistant, because he swore he’d never play again. Eventually, he’s convinced that his brother died of an illness shortly after he arrived at the prison, and that Jubeh playing is what he would have wanted. Finally Jubeh relents, but when they form up a rag tag team of players, they quickly find that baseball isn’t all the warden has planned for them. With her Nazi friends invited to watch the spectacle, she sends her prison’s team up again the girls from St. Black Dahlias, who make the horrible crimes committed by Jubeh’s team look timid in comparison. Unfortunately, in this game, it’s not runs that score, it’s how gruesomely you can kill the people on the opposing team, and now Jubeh’s team has to buy him time to find a way to stop the headmistress and her evil plans.

You know, I realize this description of the film sounds really serious. Believe me, nothing could be further from the truth. This film is another Sushi Typhoon film starring Tak Sakiguchi, and silly, stupid fun is the order of the day. For example, there’s a running joke throughout the film where Jubeh will stick his hand out of the camera shot and pull back in a lit cigarette. It’s hilarious once you realize it’s happening, and no one really seems to notice him doing it, until at last one of his teammates notices, and gets this total, "the hell???" look on his face, which makes it even funnier, because someone finally noticed it.

Another big goof in the film is when Jubeh fights with the warden’s assistant. He’s supposed to be some awesome martial artist that trained in Germany, but he actually looks like a mime who’s a butler. Jubeh dispatches him easily by tossing MSG salt in his eyes repeatedly…both times they fight in the film. It’s another running joke that’s really quite funny.

Something else I found amusing was the fact that one of his henchmen named Santaro from a previous film, Yakuza Weapon, was also in this film playing the same character with the same name, only he was in prison and ended up on the team. He didn’t have a big part in the film, but it was funny to see that nod to Yakuza Weapon.

As with all of the Sushi Typhoon films, this one is full of fighting, violence, goofiness and CGI. Yes, there’s lots of CGI in this one, just as in all of the others. It’s used for everything from normal visual effects to gore effects. Does it look great? No, it looks cheap, but in a movie like this, it doesn’t matter. If anything it just adds to the cheese of it all, and they do some really fun stuff with it.

The big selling point here, as it was in Yakuza Weapon and others, is Tak Sakiguchi. The guy is just fun to watch. He often plays the same kind of a pissed off badass in these films, and he’s just really damn good at it. Because it achieved cult status, most people would know him from the movie Versus, which was a more serious film in a lot of ways. Honestly, I’d rather watch him in these types of roles where he gets to be silly and a bad ass at the same time. These types of roles just suit him and his whole vibe.

This release from Well Go USA comes with several special features, including a spinoff short, a making of featurette, cast interviews and trailers from other Sushi Typhoon films.

As for the spinoff short, it was pretty good and had a surprise ending, though I didn’t find it to be even remotely as fun as the ones included with Yakuza Weapon.

While I didn’t enjoy this film as much as Yakuza Weapon, there’s more than enough fun and silliness to keep most fans of these types of films entertained. It’s a wild ride, with an ending that will probably leave you scratching your head a bit, but in a fun way, and it’ll certainly leave you wanting to see more Sushi Typhoon films with Tak Sakiguchi.

If you’d like to find out more about this film, you can check out it’s page on the Well Go USA website here, and if you’d like to get a copy for yourself, you can get the blu-ray or DVD from Amazon, or from any of the other usual outlets.