City Without Baseball is the first of several movies by controversial Hong Kong producer Scud. It’s the tamest and friendliest of the various explicit productions under his name.
An idiosyncratic, episodic look at the lives of young baseball players in a city that does not care about their sport, City Without Baseball is also notorious for featuring real life Hong Kong baseball players in full, frontal nudity.
I’d be honest. I didn’t watch City Without Baseball because I was keen on Asian arthouse productions, or even the sport itself. I watched it because of its notoriety.
The notoriety of the cast, actual baseball players in Hong Kong, parading themselves stark naked in various extended scenes.
Now, now, don’t get the wrong idea. I wasn’t looking for porn. I was genuinely curious about the decision for such an, ahem, artistic direction. Was the director aiming to replicate France’s beloved Dieux du Stade calendars? Is this to be the direction for sports beyond the field in days to come? (As of 2017, it looks to be) My conclusions from the viewing, it’s obviously an indulgence for producer Scud, who has gone on to film even more explicit productions. But to be fair to him, everything is at least done with taste. The nudity doesn’t feeling pornographic, even if it is gratuitous. The personal lives of the main characters are also lyrically told. These tales offer more than a glimpse into the complex relationships between people in densely populated Hong Kong.
Undeniably, the movie still possesses a little of that somnambulistic feel typically found in such productions. Fortunately, this seldom gets heavy and there are enough story lines to sustain interest. Overall, I’d say that City Without Baseball succeeds in giving the impression of a genuine exposé of baseball players in a crowded city that doesn’t care much about the sport. The intimate, interpersonal aspects, that is. What it failed at is that it lingered too much on such conflicts and emotions. In the end, the baseball theme feels to be no more than an adornment. At times, it feels almost as if the sport was but a convenient vessel to promote the movie with.
Check out my other snappy movie reviews!