The Batter’s Eye: City Without Baseball

City Without Baseball (2008, directed by Lawrence Ah Mon and Scud) is notable in that it stars real Hong Kong baseball players as the characters. Also, there’s a lot of male nudity.

The movie revolves around a vague love triangle plot between rookie relief pitcher, Ron (Ron Heung); veteran pitcher, Chung (Yu Chung Leung), and Ron’s girlfriend, Mei Zhi (Gia Lin), which gets complicated since Ron may also have feelings for Chung. As much as I get the rivalry of both Ron and Chung being pitchers is part of the plot, if any movie was going to double down on the love between pitchers and catchers, it should have been this one. I admit to being disappointed by that.

Mostly, though, not much happens. The players drink and talk and have sex (not with each other, despite several naked locker room scenes. Well, there were maybe three, but it’s more than one would expect). There is a lot of mood and not much else. For being amateur actors, the players are decent, at least in that I’ve seen worse performances from people who are allegedly professional actors.

Given that these are real baseball players, it would be the expectation that at least the baseball action is good. And it is, sort of, but that’s only because they used real game footage. These scenes are awkwardly integrated into the movie and are treated as almost secondary. It’s a movie about baseball but it doesn’t really seem to care that much about baseball.

I admire what this movie was trying to do and it does make some bold choices. It dabbles in issues of sexuality in a way that does feel daring, especially given these were real players playing fictionalized versions of themselves. However, there just isn’t enough here for this to be at all satisfying. It definitely needed more baseball, but it also just needed more everything.