YMCA Baseball Team
"I'd describe it as almost a Shaolin Soccer for baseball (without all the superpowers), but a little more drama and a little less comedy."
YMCA Baseball Team (2002)
Director: Kim Hyeon-Seok
Producer: Shim Jae-Myeong, Lee Wu-Jeong
Writer: Kim Hyeon-Seok
Cast: Song Gang-Ho, Kim Hye-Su, Kim Ju-Hyeok, Hwang Jeong-Min, Lee Dae-Yeon, Kim Il-Wung, Choi Deok-Mun, Ha Deok-Bu, Kim Ryang-Hyeon , Kim Ryang-Ha, Shin Gu, Im Hyeon-Sik, Jo Seung-Wu, Masato Ibu, Kazuma Suzuki
Running Time: 104 min.
Plot: Ho-chang is a scholar's son who is destined to walk in the shadow of his father's intellectual legacy. When his brother leaves home to join the underground resistance against Japanese colonial governance, Ho-chang becomes torn between fulfilling familial duty his love for baseball which is landed in Korea for the first time. YMCA Baseball Team retells the story of the first baseball team in Korea that held the pride, joy and hope of a people in crisis.
EQUINOX21'S REVIEW: Wow. Song Kang-Ho continues to astound me. This movie is probably the best Korean movie of 2002 (that I saw, at least). The movie is set up in a "framed" way (ala Saving Private Ryan and Schindler's List), that is to say there are modern scenes at the beginning and end of the movie, with the entire story told in a flashback of 1905. There was drama, comedy and baseball, lots of baseball. Add to this a sprinkling of Field of Dreams at the end of the movie, and you have a winning combination. I had extremely high expectations of this movie, and it met them and blew them away!
There are a few aspects that get touched on in this movie. The first is that the YMCA team is the first baseball team in Korea. It follows the team from its formation to its game against the Japanese military team. This leads to the second aspect of the movie, which is the tension between Korea and their new (as of 1905) Japanese occupiers. Another part of this subject that gets addressed is the Korean underground that wants to get rid of the Japanese and their Korean collaborators. Also, as a minor side story are the former Master and Servant who are on the YMCA team, playing together, and who must overcome the old class differences and get along. It works very well, much better than I described it.
The acting and writing in this movie was superb. I wasn't quite sure what type of movie it would be, but it turned out to be mostly a drama with plenty of comedic elements thrown in. I'd describe it as almost a Shaolin Soccer for baseball (without all the superpowers), but a little more drama and a little less comedy. Ho-Chang's (Song Kang-Ho) interaction with his father seems strained until the end, when there's a nice little moment with Ho-Chang teaching some students and they ask him about playing baseball.
The soundtrack was very good, as well. It was simple, but good. It wasn't overly boisterous or busy and it added a nice punctuation to the film.
This movie should be seen by all, at least all who like baseball movies. I am a sucker for them, and that added to the fact that Song Kang-Ho is in it is why I really wanted to see this movie. I was absolutely not let down.
EQUINOX21'S RATING: 10/10