Battlefield Baseball
Year: 2003
Length: 97min
Role: Jubeh
Yudai Yamaguchi

Average: 4
Battlefield Baseball

First Impressions
I had no idea this movie existed. I was still working at Hollywood Video at the time and, while putting away movies, I spotted the box from ten feet away and somehow instantly recognized Tak on the cover. How I recognized him is still a mystery to me. He is standing here with his back turned and only part of his profile visible. I guess it must have been obsessive intuition. Either that or the fact that his pose is identical to the pose on the cover of Versus. Anyway, I was very excited to find another movie with Tak. A movie that stated on its cover "This film has not been rated. Contains scenes of baseball carnage, blue faced zombies, and musical numbers. Viewer discretion is advised" had to be good, right?? Well, I watched it, and was severely weirded out. Perhaps I was not in the mood for the kind of over the top silliness the movie consisted of. Scary looking women, people dying and resurrecting for no apparent reason, characters changing actors in mid movie, pointless special attacks, a random rubber dummy for a zombie... I had no idea what to make of it, no idea at all. My painfully rational mind was sorely traumatized and repressed the whole experience from my memory.

Return to Battlefield Baseball
Three years later, after watching Death Trance, I decided to go ahead and just buy Battlefield Baseball because it was the only movie besides Death Trance and Versus where Tak was the main character. I hoped that after being more exposed to Japanese movies, I would now be more prepared to handle it. I also reminded myself that this was based on a manga, and though actual humans acting in manga ways seems bizarre, if I looked at it from a manga context it would be completely normal. This new attitude worked wonders, and I found myself enjoying the movie better and better every time I watched it. The jokes were genuinely funny, the silliness made perfect sense... it was still one hell of an acid trip, but a very enjoyable one!

It was directed by Yudai Yamaguchi, the assistant director of Versus. Him and Tak are good friends, but I think he's kind of a bad influence on Tak. The making of has Tak teaming up with him to playfully bully a zombie cast member about his lines. Amusing to watch, not sure if it was staged, though. There's several things in the featurette that I write off as either staged or inside jokes. Because, damnit, Tak is sweet, innocent, and shy and I'm sticking to that! He can put up an attitude when needed, though.

To prepare for the role of Jubeh, Tak trained in the mountains... or not. During the filming of this movie, Tak had a tendency to say completely random things... all the time... to be funny, I guess. It certainly was fun but confusing as hell. It's thanks to the audio commentary that some people cite Tak as being Christian. He did indeed say "I'm Christian," but given the context, tone, and the fact that he could say "Me and Sakaki (arch nemesis) were lovers in Versus" in the next breath, it's really hard to tell. The extras do show him volunteering to play Santa Claus for a church, but you don't have to be Christian to do that either. I guess it's in the spirit of the movie to be outlandish in the extras, such as saying with a straight face that he never uses a stuntman when there was a stuntman sitting right next to him. Odd movie. Very odd extras. Gotta love it.

Tak doesn't use stuntmen for any fight scenes or anything truly dangerous, though. His flashy Super Tornado special attack, for example, was probably the most dangerous stunt in the movie. In order to create the right amount of wind for the scene, they hovered a helicopter a few feet over his head! I guess they couldn't afford a fan or maybe it just seemed like the best idea at the time. O.o;; But the funny part is... after demonstrating the awesome might of Super Tornado, he never uses it again. Ok, he throws it once in the general direction of the zombies to initiate a fight, but he never actually uses it in a dramatic scene against a head villain.

It is noteworthy to mention that Hideo Sakaki (Tak's epic rival in Versus) plays the bandaged zombie Hoichi here, and that Yukihito Tanikado ("FBI-trained" cop from Versus) plays the Gedo zombies' coach.

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DISCLAIMER: All images copyright Tak Sakaguchi, Ryuhei Kitamura, Yudai Yamaguchi, Yuji Shimomura, and all respective owners whose work, support, distribution, etc contributed to the making of the movies, interviews, documentaries, etc. I do not know Tak Sakaguchi and have nothing to do with him (yet?). I am just here to admire his work. No copyright infringement is intended.