Sunday, May 23, 2010

Baseball Jocks Do Full Frontal Glory in Gratuitous "City Without Baseball"

Here's one movie that will make all the manangs blush and drive all those penis-hunting film enthusiasts gaga. Forget the moribund neuron-challenged Pinoy peek-a-boo indies! Directors Lawrence Ah Mon and Scud's "City Without Baseball" lets it all hang out. Not with just a couple of guys but a whole baseball team of buff, ripped nude-happy hunks!

"City Without Baseball" tells the story of a team of baseball players in a "strange city where anything and everything can be found, but hardly anybody can tell you where to find a baseball" - Hong Kong. This team, in fact, is the only baseball players in this city state! It follows a couple of charismatic players - Chung (Leung Yu Chung), a part-time mechanic and very talented pitcher who has a weird relationship with a suicidal girl; Ron Heung (who looks like Korean Superstar Rain) is, on the other hand, coming to grips with his sexuality; something that he has to deal with fast before he loses his latest girlfriend. A coach from Taipei is flown in to help improve their chances of joining first-tier players like Japan and Korea. Their stories take the spotlight in this film oddity.

The actors portraying these fictional stories are real Hong Kong baseball jocks and the random stories are credited from the Hong Kong Baseball Association. These spectacular amateur actors even use their real names and more interestingly, bare their bodies in wild abandon. Many of the scenes teeter on homoeroticism and scenes are replete with nudity! Consider these - guys in all their naked glory playfully butt-slapping each other in misty shower halls, a player ordered by his coach to run the field does so buck naked - his family jewels bouncing everywhere; a guy teased to be the group's best "batter" strips to prove their claim - at a karaoke bar; and the opening scene has Chung frolicking the night seas in his birthday suit.

The stories are quite engrossing, you're bound to root for one of the characters. If the idea was to attract attention on Hong Kong's spectatorless sport(their diamond field doesn't have an audience stand nor a homerun wall), it may have failed miserably. The film carries a multilayered plot that deflects our attention from a coherent focus: love and fidelity, friendship; death, sexuality and overcoming the odds of losing in a sport that no one else is interested in. All those big words comprise a very tall order!

The raw actors are revelatory, not just in terms of being nude-happy (you don't have to pause that button to see a genitalia - it is everywhere, shot from frontal, rear, lateral and even from top views! It's a veritable feast of penises! Best of all, these good looking jocks appear with natural ease, you would wonder if they were actually professional actors! (The initial scenes write - "They are no actors. They are baseballers. They belong to the diamond.")

There is an artful gimmick that I find distracting: Every so often, a song is played for a particular scene. As the song ends, the name of their singers are flashed on-screen: e.g. Anita Mui (1963-2003), Leslie Cheung (1956-2003), and so on! Four more names were flashed in similar manner. If there's a pop culture reference relevant to the narrative on hand, it is lost on me! Otherwise, it only bolsters the randomness and unfocused vision of the 2 directors.

If the story feels cluttered, there is no denying the freshness and sincerity in them. It's just bonus that there's genitalia gloriously on display.

Too much bonus, in fact.

Ron Heung disrobes in countless occasions, and reminds me of Korean Superstar Rain. In the movie, he writes and sings his own songs!

Chung gets an invitation with death. (left) Even Coach John Tai does the full monty!

Jaws drop as, not just a couple of jocks flash the family jewels - but a whole team of real life athletes! This scene shows a brawl in the shower room while everyone is butt naked. How appendages flip flop!

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