When I stepped into my local video store last week, I was looking for an action movie, but I couldn't decide what to choose. About halfway down the shelves, my eyes settled on this movie's cover and I saw the words:
"Basketball as an Underground Blood Sport"
Basketball _and_ Thai Boxing? I couldn't think of a better combination since Reese's combined chocolate and peanut butter! I had high hopes that I would be watching an epic brawler - and I was not disappointed in my choice.
We start off with the main character, Tai, getting released from prison. His twin brother, Tan, put up a sizeable amount of money to make this happen. Tai soon learns his brother earned this money by playing an illegal sport called Fireball - and Tan is now in a coma from being beaten within an inch of his life.
In order to raise money to get his brother a life-saving operation, Tai slips into his brother's identity and joins one of the Fireball teams, with the goal of reaching the finals to win a sizeable cash prize. Tai also learns his brother's would-be killer is playing on another team - so he's got some revenge to dish out before the tournament is over.
Each team has 5 players. Whoever scores a point first is the winner. However, if no one scores, the team with the last man standing is the winner. Whether it's the first game or the final tournament match, there are no replacements...no fouls...no referees...and no mercy.
From the second the basketball was thrown onto the closed court, I knew I was going to enjoy this rental. Forget throwing elbows, these guys were throwing HAYMAKERS! As soon as someone attempted a layup or an alley-oop, I knew an axe-kick or a body slam would be sure to follow...and they did! Flying knee kicks to the chest and head, foreign weapons thrown in, kicking a guy when he was down, fighting in the rain, I never knew what was coming next!
Now with every film, there is some down time...and Fireball is no exception. There are moments off the court where we see small glimpses into each player's life and why they need to win the tournament. Most of the acting is pretty hammy, they all want to solve their problems by winning money - similar to the plot of 13: Game of Death, another Thai film. I was itching for the next action scene to kick in, and thankfully I never had to wait very long.
As good as the fight scenes were; some of the visuals were choppy. A Steadicam was being used but sometimes it looked like the camera was shaking during the fighting. I couldn't decide if this was purposeful or accidental..try to imagine a Thai version of the fight scenes in the Jason Bourne series and you've got the general idea. The lighting was well done so you could always see the action, a huge plus!
The special features are pretty skimpy, but there's enjoyment to be had:
(1) Behind the Scenes:
This is a 12-minute featurette with interviews with the director Thanakorn Ponguswan, Preeti Barameeanant (who played Tai/Tan), Sam Kasem (who played Zing) and Archua Tosawat (who played Tun). Each person offers thoughts on the film and their individual character. Each cast member enjoyed making this movie and it shows in their enthusiasm! I really enjoyed the segments with Archua because he talked about doing action sequences for up to 7 hours and being completely exhausted...and he had a smile from ear to ear.
(2) Fireball movie trailer
(3) Also From LIONSGATE
These are 5 movie trailers with everything an MMA fan wants...fighting, fighting and more fighting!
Jackie Chan's Wushu
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This movie can be watched with English or Thai language, and subtitles are available in English and Spanish.
Overall, I enjoyed this movie. It was a great rental, and I definitely recommend it to other action movie junkies or fans of Thai films. Though the plot was flimsy and the ending was somewhat disappointing, I was looking for an adrenaline-packed action movie - and I got one!