It’s June 29, 2018 and I find myself at a crossroads in my basketball fandom. I fully admit to being a bandwagon fan of the Cleveland Cavaliers. I’ve come to sports in a variety of non-traditional ways over the years, but there has always been some kind of emotional reason for the teams I’ve chose to follow and root for. I get that this isn’t usually the kind of thing you read here, so feel free to move along. If not, though, hit that jump!
I was super skeptical about Fireball, but added it to the top of my Netflix DVD queue for a few reasons: I needed an action movie for today’s post and it’s Thai, so it’s got to be at least sort of good, right? Well, turns out it’s way more than sort of good. I give this flick a lot of credit for several reasons. First off, you don’t have to sit through a bunch of nonsense to show that the hero is trying to avenge his brother. In fact, you’re told that in the first minute or so. Second, they take what sounds like a silly concept (full contact basketball) and turns it into something that not only feels legit, but also has a sense of history to it, even if that history is explained awkwardly by a pair of old white guys talking about an old ball.
So here’s the deal. the main character gets picked to join a Fireball team, an underground sport that pits two teams against each other in what looks like a regular basketball game but involves lots of punching and kicking. I’m sure I missed a lot of the subtletly and rules of the game and plot, but they do note that there can be no fighting between teams outside of the sport, that leads to disqualification. As it happens–of course–the main character’s rival is on the best team in the league, who they won’t meet on the court until the final game which is INSANE.
Luckily, most of the film is spent on the action/sports scenes because, frankly, I don’t care about the main dude or his beat up brother. I’ve seen the framework of this movie a million times before, so it’s good to see them address the plot, but not get too absorbed by it. The real fun of the movie is watching this strange sport unfold. I was thinking while watching and most fictional sports in movies are either set in the future or involve magic, so I give them a lot of credit for creating a variation on a sport I don’t care about and making me want to watch it (though how much cooler would the movie have been if it was Slamball plus martial arts?). Plus, the fights are sick. You get the usual high quality that comes from Thai martial arts movies, but then also a different format that the fights are framed in. This isn’t one dude fighting a million other dudes who aren’t as good as him, making his way to the big boss, this is several very well trained fighters fighting several other well trained fighters who all happen to also be running and kicking. It’s rad. This is my most highly recommended movie of anything I’ve watched so far for Friday Fisticuffs. Check it out!
You can’t realistically have very high hopes when going into a movie like Monster High, especially if you’ve seen the VHS cover (left), as opposed to the DVD cover which tries to make the movie look serious. One thing you should know going into Monster High is that there’s not a serious bone in it’s celluloid body. The writers and director tried to pack so many jokes into this movie that it feels like they’re trying to make you drown with laughter. The problem is that, for the most part, the jokey jokes (the pothead’s name is O.D., there’s a sign about joining the anti club club and emphasizing any parts of words that could be even remotely sexual) inundate you so badly that the few good ones seem to get lost in the shuffle. It’s like listening to 90 minutes of knock knock jokes from a five year old with a few quality one-liners or sight gags thrown in.
Another problem with the movie is that there’s way too much narration. From what I can tell, the story is being told to the head of demons/monsters (on a very tiny disc by the way, not bad tech-guessing back in 89) about this one demon called Mr. Armageddon breaking out of his jail and causing trouble in a high school on Earth. He’s trying to bring about the end of the world, natch. The first 15 minutes or so have way too much narration explaining exactly what’s going on even when it’s incredibly obvious to everyone. It dies off eventually, but when a movie treats me like a lazy viewer, I tend to turn into one and don’t pay as much attention. However, that did give me a good chance to catch up on HorrorMovieADay.
I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that the film–and the fate of the Earth–comes down to a basketball game between the unbeaten Demons (the high school dribblers) and the monsters, aliens and demons who have been killing kids off left, right and center throughout the movie. From left to right in the picture is Dume and Glume (or maybe I got that backwards, either way, they both sound like He-Man’s annoying magician friend Orko), the horny monster, the computer man and Mr. Armageddon. They’re joined by a student-turned-zombie as equipment manager and a red monster as a fan. And you thought Teen Wolf was ridiculous at the end. Even with all the murder and mayhem throughout the day (some of the red shirt kids who got slaughtered had to have been missed, right?) the gym is filled with people ready to watch the game.
So, yeah, the movie’s ridiculous and corny, but that works for a lot of horror fans. There’s a particularly graphic kill involving a computer (that must have eaten up a big chunk of the budget as PCs weren’t cheap back then) and there’s a good deal of bare breasts for those interested in such things. All in all, I’m not upset that I watched it, but I don’t think I’ll be revisiting this one again, though I do want to draw either a team photo of the bad guys’ team or a mash-up between them on other sci-fi/horror sports teams. That might be beyond my meager skills, but I’m gonna give it a shot.