Fireball (2009)

Preeti Barameeanat, Khanutra Chuchuaysuwan, Kumpanat Oungsoongnern, Phutharit Prombandal,
Fireball is a movie starring Preeti Barameeanat, Khanutra Chuchuaysuwan, and Kumpanat Oungsoongnern. Tai, a young man arrested on a crime charge, is discharged thanks to his twin brother Tan's dogged help. After being set free, he...
  • 5.1 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Kiat Sansanandana, Taweewat Wantha, Adirek Wattaleela, Writer:
  • Thanakorn Pongsuwan, Director:
  • Producer:

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7 / 10

A Nutshell Review: Fireball

Rather than Fireball: Muay Thai Dunk, this could have been more aptly titled as Firebrawl: Anything Goes, and I mean that in a nice way. We know enough of how sports and martial arts can coexist in movies, either in comical fashion like Stephen Chow's Shaolin Soccer, or played in a more deadpan, idol-movie like manner with the Jay Chou vehicle Kung Fu Dunk. Joining their ranks is this latest action film directed by Thanakorn Pongsuwan, which fuses an illegal underground basketball league, and Muay Thai fighting.

For those who want to organize their own tournament, here are the extremely simple rules as explained in the movie. It's your standard 5 on 5 basketball on a full length court, except that when the whistle blows, you can brawl with your opponent immediately, which makes it something like a WWE Royal Rumble, only faster and more brutal. To win, you still have to put the ball into your opponent's goal/basket (it's still basketball after all), but it only takes one dunk to win. Either that, or the team with the last man standing will be the victor. Killing your opponent is allowed, but only within the court (anything outside equals to punishment for the team), but there's no replacement players allowed as you progress through the stages. Which means survivors get to split more cash between them, but suffer from numerical disadvantage. Weapons are optional too.

Which makes the film perfect as an all out actioner, and Pongsuwan doesn't think twice about indulging the audience into detailed, well executed fights which take precedence over a decent game of basketball. While watching the film I felt it was a throwback to the 80s Bloodsport type of movie with gladiators battling in an arena, sans plot and character development, where the focus is to let the fists and feet do most of the talking. That said, the fight sequences were nicely shot and tightly choreographed, though it seemed more like an all-out street brawl than sticking to Muay Thai principles. Fans of hard-hitting action will definitely appreciate the ring-side seat to all of the action here, which is relentless in pace and powerful in execution.

Story-wise, it tells of the tale of Tai (Preeti Barameeanat), who has recently been released from prison because twin brother Tan got him out of jail by raising required funds for bribery, but at the price of fighting for his life in a coma at the hospital. Tai learns from Tan's main squeeze Pang (Khanutra Chuchuaysuwan), who provides a cursory and unnecessary romantic angle, that Tan often got himself badly knocked up, and discovers that his twin was actually knocked comatose by an opponent in a Fireball tournament. So like a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie, Tai adopts Tan's identity, and finds himself looking for a team to join for the tournament, seeking revenge.

Enter Boss Den (Phutharit Prombandal), who recruits Tai's Tan into his Fireball team, led by captain and best fighter of the lot Zing (9 Million Sam, yes you read that right!), with Muk (Kumpanat Oungsoongnern), K (Anuwat Saejao) and teenager IQ (Kannut Samerjai) as the rag-tag, hastily assembled team with trust issues amongst one another, and personal issues, each from the doldrums of society, mercenaries for hire if you like, eyeing that prize money at the end of the rainbow in order to lift their lot. Throw in some match-fixing potential, which is de-facto in any underground fights, and nasty opponents with no qualms for un- sportsmanship behaviour, and you're all set for a non-stop action film where the drama in between becomes an excuse to glue the multi-faceted fight scenarios together. One of the best involves a training sequence where the boys play a friendly in and around a narrow and cramped apartment block, resembling a parkour-yamakasi piece.

Given knowledge that a prequel will be made, I can't help but to think that this film could end up as the "middle" movie, since it ended the way it did with doors opened for a sequel, and of course the story of Tan provides ample room for scenes before the opening shot here. The players too are likely to be similar for the prequel, and it could follow John Woo's A Better Tomorrow where you can bring back the key actor from the excuse that we're looking at the twin / likeness resembling relative, which this film had all set up, and set subsequent movies back in time too.

That said, as a basketball-type movie, Fireball would not muster any merit for lay-ups and slam dunks. But as an action film, then yes, it will satisfy any action junkie who misses the good old days of no holds barred fights, multiplied by the number of players on the court all happening at the same time.

5 / 10

Watchable But Hardly Great Action Trash

Action movies are a dime a dozen in the world of DVD. Go to any rental or place that carried DVD's, and you will find several-sometimes many-action movies that didn't get a theatrical release in the U.S. Personally, I think that the king of this market may be Lionsgate, who seem to crank out Direct to DVD exploitation junk on a regular basis, and action and horror are the main course. Ususally, this kind of fair tends to be nearly excruciatingly bad ("Wrong Side of Town" for example), so while not a miracle, it's almost sort of refreshing to find a watchable entry in the Thai action flick "Fireball."

Arrested on a crime charge, Tai (Preeti Barameeanat) is set free thanks to his twin brother Tan. Problem is, Tan has suffered severe injuries and is in a coma (I know, I know it's serious.) Trying to trace how his brother ended up like this, Tai discovers the world of underground basketball gambling. He ends up in a "Fireball" team, or a team of five players who play-and fight-to the death until there is one man left standing, and in the process, learns more about what happened to Tan.

On the plus side, the action scenes in "Fireball" are fantastic, not to mention bloody. People are impaled, bones are broken, flying kicks and punches are traded, blood spills-I could go on, but this aspect of the film is a lot of fun, and certainly earns it's R-rating. At it's best, the movie reminded me at times of 80's action movies like "Bloodsport", in that it shares a similar plot and has no clearer ambitions other than to give the viewer a bloody action movie that doesn't demand too much. In some cases here, it certainly succeeds.

That out of the way, while the acting is fine, the movie falters in the fact that there is little is any real characterization going on in the film. Without anybody to care about, many of the scenes in which there isn't anything action or maybe even sex related feel too long, not to mention kind of boring. The fact that there isn't much as far as characterization is concerned also hurts the various sub-plots-particularly one involving mob bosses-as we aren't given any other reason to take interest other than "Hey, look at what's happening now!" Without any way for the audience to invest in any of these characters or plot points, the viewer ends up getting bored, waiting for the next action scene.

I really can't recommend "Fireball", as it feels a bit too much like a missed opportunity to be a really fun piece of action trash. That out of the way, the action scenes are a lot of fun, and for a rainy day viewing, you can do a whole lot worse.

4 / 10

Violent basketball tournament? Sure, why not?...

When I bought this movie from Amazon, it was mostly because of the cover and the costumer reviews I glanced through there. However, I did fail to pick up that this movie was about a weird combo of martial arts and basketball. Had I known that, I probably wouldn't have picked it up. And one of the major factors in the decision for buying it was that there are some really amazing fighting movies coming out of Thailand.

Now, having seen this movie, I sit here somewhat puzzled. The movie had a lot of fighting in it, as expected, and the scenes were quite nicely executed and brought on the screen. However, I do think the scene where one team was using metal pipes in the fight was a bit tame, especially because a lot of the time you could see that they weren't even aiming to hit the opponents with the pipes, they were just randomly striking at the air to make it look choreographed. That was sort of lame.

Then the whole thing with the basketball tournament mixed up with brutal fighting, well... That really didn't work out all that nicely for me. It was like a weird hybrid version of "Rollerball".

The story in "Fireball" is pretty thin, though I suspect that was to be expected of a movie of this caliber, as you watch this for the action and fighting, not the storyline and plot. Basically it is the story of a guy entering a brutal competition to raise money for his brothers brain surgery. And that is it, the rest is just action, fighting and violence.

"Fireball" is worth watching for the fight scenes, if nothing else, however, mind you, they are not on the same level as the ones seen in "Ong Bak".

The acting in the movie was alright, actually. I wasn't overly familiar with the actors and actresses here in the movie, but I do think they did do alright with their given roles and characters.

All in all, "Fireball" is an adequate movie if you are looking to be entertained in the way of constant action and fighting. However, if you like a movie with more depth and stuff to think about, this might not be the movie for you.

1 / 10

Wow—as in 'Wow, what a pile of crap!'

Tai (Preeti Barameeanat) is released from jail, all charges dropped, his brother Tan (also played by Barameeanat) having greased some palms with cash earned playing the violent street sport Fireball. After Tai arrives home to discover his brother in a coma, badly bruised and beaten, he enters the Fireball arena to try and find the person responsible, while earning some cash to pay for a much-needed operation.

Thai martial arts movie Fireball (AKA Muay Thai Dunk) revolves around an illegal tournament in which two teams of five men battle it out on a basketball court, maiming and killing their opponents while trying to score a single basket. As such, I wasn't expecting much in the way of a gripping (or logical) storyline—and I didn't get one. I was, however, expecting some decent fight scenes—a bit of bone crunching, adrenaline fuelled action, as the quote on the DVD cover promised—but I didn't get that either.

Director Thanakorn Pongsuwan seems to have gone out of his way to reduce every potentially exciting scene to an incomprehensible mess through the use of wobbly camera-work and rapid editing. There are several lengthy Fireball matches, but it is virtually impossible to work out who is punching or kicking who, making the film an extremely frustrating (and utterly boring) experience. In between the 'action', Pongsuwan pads out the running time with cloying emotional drama, but since I couldn't care less about any of his horribly clichéd characters, this did nothing to help improve my opinion of the film as a whole.

So bad it makes the barely above average Kung Fu Dunk (2008) look like a work of pure genius by comparison, I have no reservations in giving Fireball the lowest possible rating of 1/10.

9 / 10

Loved it

This movie, at least for me, is awesome... The true embodiment of entertainment.The acting and the story are nothing outstanding, but the fights are fantastic, with fast pace, and very brutal.I don't care about depth, in movies... I'm not looking for a movie that makes me think... I'm just looking for something that entertains me, simple as that...And this is pure entertainment... I loved it