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Fireball - Review


Review by Cassam Looch

IndieLondon Rating: 2.5 out of 5

A BIZARRE and slightly impenetrable plot make Fireball a challenging watch, but the fast-paced martial arts and inventive sports-based action will keep you enthralled throughout.

Eschewing plot complexities in favour of all-out action sequences, Fireball combines the breakneck paced sport of basketball with the bone-crushing brutality of Muay Thai fighting and mixed martial arts for an action movie experience quite unlike any other.

Recently released from prison, Tai discovers that his twin brother Tan is in a coma after being beaten to near-death by a rival. Further investigation reveals that in order to raise money to secure Tai’s early release, Tan had become involved in an illegal and deadly but highly lucrative underground sport known as Fireball, a no-holds-barred combination of basketball and martial arts in which ruthless murder is simply part of the game.

Back in 2005, Ong-Bak introduced a whole new level of martial arts mayhem to unsuspecting action movie fans around the world and raised the bar as far as on-screen, in-your-face fight and action choreography was concerned.

Now, producer Adirek Watleela (Bang Rajan; Bangkok Dangerous) and director Thanakorn Pongsuwan (Opapatika; The Story Of X-Circle) take things in a new direction with the electrifying and relentlessly violent Fireball, starring popular Thai rock star Preeti “Bank” Barameeanant in the dual roles of twin brothers who become dangerously involved in Thailand’s ultimate underground bloodsport.

It’s a decent enough concept but the film fails to stick to its own very loose rules. We are introduced to seemingly important characters who are very quickly dispatched on screen and we’re left unsure as to their fates until someone later on confirms that they were brutally murdered… and yet the ‘teammates’ manage to get over it in time for the next bout of Fireball.

You don’t expect sentiment in a film like this, but at least some acknowledgement of the tragedies would add to the action. It makes the pursuit of the film’s villains seem irrelevant as you feel none of the characters care if they live or die, so why should we?

Putting that to one side, and also ignoring a tedious sub-plot that has something to do with the lead character’s twin brother lying in a coma (it’s supposed to be a big ‘reveal’ that it was caused while playing Fireball… but everyone seems to know already and make no secret about it), the film itself is mindless fun.

It does capture the spirit of Ong-Bak, but evokes more memories of the Thai action film Born to Fight, which saw the characters use sports skills to thwart a group of violent terrorists… seriously, you haven’t lived until you’ve seen a football star kick a wicker basket and knockout a well-placed sniper taking aim from a watch-tower.

In this regard, Fireball has a well-polished and excellently performed set of arena-based set-pieces with the other notable scene being a tour-de-force free-running rampage through a high-rise estate.

It’s just a shame that the other sections of the film fail to ignite.

So, if you’ve enjoyed the other films we’ve mentioned so far, Fireball will grab you and is worth hunting down on the big screen. For everyone else, you can take a punt on the film when it comes out on DVD in a couple of weeks time.

Fireball is released on DVD by E1 Entertainment on January 18, 2010. Prior to its DVD release, the film will be showing at selected cinemas throughout the UK, courtesy of Premiere Films, from January 8, 2010 – check for further details.