Monday, January 25, 2010

Fireball hits DVD, Netflix in U.S.

Thanakorn Pongsuwan's Fireball has been on the U.K. theater circuit and had a DVD and Blu-ray release there.

The Muay Thai basketball combat drama comes to DVD> and Netflix Instant Watch in the U.S. this week.

It's the story of a young man named Tai ("Bank" Preeti Barameeanat) who gets out of jail to find that his twin brother is in a coma from injuries sustained playing a violent underground bloodsport that mixes Muay Thai and basketball. "Tai risks his life to avenge him on the only court where murder is legal. No rules, no mercy, and only the strongest will survive."

Lionsgate has picked it up for U.S. distribution. I have to say I am disappointed with the tagline on the DVD cover: "Basketball as an Underground Blood Sport".

Ho-hum. The original Thai tagline, "Loose for Die" didn't make sense but at least it had flair.

Kung Fu Cinema's Gazz Ogden offers a few more taglines and DVD cover blurbs in his review.

Here's the part that made me laugh loudest:

[Fireball] reminds me of the time I took a portable DVD player on a roller coaster – everyone said I was being an idiot and that I wouldn’t be able to see what was going on, but I really wanted to see Marley and Me. Sure enough I didn’t have the faintest clue what was going on because the screen was all over the place. The same thing happens in Fireball, as every time there’s an action sequence, director Thanakorn Pongsuwan goes completely insane with his camera, zooming in, cutting shots like nobody’s business and generally just flailing his camera about with a reckless over-energy that ruins the potential for any impressive action. As with the roller coaster incident, I ended up puking all over myself.

The shaky-cam and cropped and zoomed frames were a criticism of mine when I saw Fireball almost a year ago.

But other people liked the effect.

And reviews have been mixed. The Muswell Hill Journal says " the fights and chase scenes are fast, brutal and satisfyingly gory. Action fans will have a ball." But View Edinburgh said "avoid". IndieLondon says "fast-paced martial arts and inventive sports-based action will keep you enthralled throughout". Den of Geek mixes it up, giving high praise for the concept but low marks for the execution. Cinema Blend is generally enthusiastic.

The DVD in wide-screen format offers an English dub track as well as the original Thai. There's also English and Spanish subtitles. Extras are a behind-the-scenes featurette and the trailer.

Meanwhile, Thanakorn is at work on a prequel, Fireball Begins, which delves into the origins of the sport during the Vietnam War era.

(Via Wildgrounds, AFFD)

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