City Without Baseball is the first of several movies by controversial Hong Kong producer Scud. Arguably, the tamest and friendliest of all explicit productions under his name too.
City without Baseball (無野之城) Synopsis
City Without Baseball is an idiosyncratic and episodic look at the lives of young baseball players in a city that does not care about their sport. In other words, a spectator-less sport. The movie is, incidentally, 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 male baseball players in Hong Kong, parading themselves stark naked in several 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 the direction to be 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 openly gratuitous. The personal lives of the main characters are also lyrically depicted, offering more than a glimpse into the complex relationships between people living 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 this Scud movie inevitably possesses a little of that somnambulistic feel typically found in such productions. Thankful, this never gets heavy and there are enough storylines to sustain interest.
The summary of it, 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 with. And with that, glistening male bodies too.
Check out my other snappy movie reviews!
Read my other Asian Movie Features.