City Without Baseball (無野之城) 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.
City without Baseball Synopsis
An idiosyncratic and 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. To be fair to him, though, everything is at least done with taste. The nudity doesn’t feel pornographic, even if it is gratuitous. The personal lives of the main characters are also lyrically depicted, offering more than a glimpse into the complex relationships between people in densely populated Hong Kong. Particularly for the players of a so-called spectator-less sport.
The male nudity aside, I should also mention that City Without Baseball inevitably possesses a little of that somnambulistic feel typically found in such productions. Thankful, this doesn’t gets heavy and there are enough story lines to sustain interest.
In summary, my opinion is that City Without Baseball more or less succeeds in giving the impression of a genuine exposé about baseball players in a city that seriously doesn’t give a damn about the sport. The intimate and interpersonal aspects, that is. Where the movie fails at, on the other hand, is how it lingers too much on such conflicts and emotions, to the extent the baseball theme comes across as being no more than a frame. At times, it almost feels as if the sport was but a convenient vessel to promote the movie, and the strutting male nudity, with.
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