Tai is released from prison to discover his twin brother Tan has been in a coma for the past year. Tan has entered the world of Fireball, a violent game based on the sport of basketball that is hosted by underground criminal gangs. Apparently, Tan entered the Fireball matches so as to raise money for Tai’s early release.
However, Tan was brutally beaten by another player, Tun. Tai agrees to join Den’s team so that he can track down the man who injured his brother.
Tai is befriended by his teammates: Singh, a Thai-boxing champion who simply wants to prove that he is the best; Muk, a Thai-African who needs money to support his family; IQ, a cheerful soul who only wants to help his mother; and K, an old friend of Tan who has a mysterious past… Tai and his teammates must risk their lives and fight their way to the final round of the deadly Fireball championships so that Tai can avenge his brother on the court, where murder is legal.
There are no English subtitles for this edition of Fireball Muay Thai Dunk. For someone who is very used to reading English subtitles for the foreign films, this is a major inconvenience in understanding the plot and dialogue.
When Fireball Muay Thai Dunk’s posters went up in local cinemas, the immediate reaction was that it was a derogatory gimmick for both Muay Thai martial arts and basketball. It felt that movie makers had run out of excuses in making a movie that invokes Muay Thai fighting (yup, you can only do so many Muay Thai movies about elephants) that it’s dragging basketball into the mix. Needless to say that Jay Chou recently had a basketball film that involves martial arts and that movie had the word “Dunk” in it’s title too. It simply reeks of desperation in this combo of the two sports for a movie.
Even the tagline of “No Rules” was technically incorrect. Although the players in the Fireball championships could “legally” murder their opponent during the games, they are still bound by rules such as the game could be won by a team who score a basket or when there’s no one left standing in the opponent team.
With a rule that states whoever scores first would win the game, it created many instances where it felt that the players are not playing to win. In basketball games, there a tactic where players attempt to draw the opponents away in order to create an unguarded player. There were a few situations in Fireball Muay Thai Dunk that a few opponents were basically ganging up one player and it meant that beyond the screen, there are many open players around. The balls could have been passed to them and they could take a higher percentage shot at victory but the camera just lingered where the fights are.
Obviously the focus of the game wasn’t entirely on scoring or basketball strategy. It’s basically a gimmick excuse to show men whacking the hell out of each other in Muay Thai style. In that aspect (and basically what most people watch this movie for), it was an enjoyable brutal smack fest.
It’s not so much that the Muay Thai martial arts shown here were that extraordinary. In fact, except the signature usage of elbow and knee strike, there’s very little to differentiate the fighting style in this movie from the normal street brawl. The choreography here are not top notch as the motion does not feel fluid or constant. But there something kinetic about the cinematography and editing in this movie that really draws out the grittiness of these street fights without the need to be too gruesome or bloody.
The cinematography also did well to capture the slums of Thailand and even painted a tinge of romanticism among the poor dirty environment which made it a sort of visual fest.
Beside nice visuals, the plotting of Fireball Muay Thai Dunk was also as engaging as the WWE (that wrestling opera entertainment) programs. The acting and story are not impressive but the characters / actors are diversely and distinctively different from each other and there’s something about the story that’s soap operatic captivating.
With an ending that’s open to a sequel and a rumored prequel in the works, Fireball Muay Thai Dunk is poised to bring more money for the filmmakers and producers. Although it’s flawed in many ways, especially the basketball bits in this movie, it excel in the Muay Thai brand of actions and for those who actually wants to watch this movie, that’s all that will matter.
As noted, Fireball Muay Thai Dunk had some fine camera work and this dvd gave a fine presentation of the gritty Thailand’s underprivileged sectors. The audio in this dvd was noticeable aggressive during the action sequences and it helps to bring out the kinetic feel to a frenzy bits.
Review by Richard Lim Jr
Posted on 6 July 2009