Action movies are a dime a dozen in the world of DVD. Go to any rental or place that carried DVD's, and you will find several-sometimes many-action movies that didn't get a theatrical release in the U.S. Personally, I think that the king of this market may be Lionsgate, who seem to crank out Direct to DVD exploitation junk on a regular basis, and action and horror are the main course. Ususally, this kind of fair tends to be nearly excruciatingly bad ("Wrong Side of Town" for example), so while not a miracle, it's almost sort of refreshing to find a watchable entry in the Thai action flick "Fireball."
Arrested on a crime charge, Tai (Preeti Barameeanat) is set free thanks to his twin brother Tan. Problem is, Tan has suffered severe injuries and is in a coma (I know, I know it's serious.) Trying to trace how his brother ended up like this, Tai discovers the world of underground basketball gambling. He ends up in a "Fireball" team, or a team of five players who play-and fight-to the death until there is one man left standing, and in the process, learns more about what happened to Tan.
On the plus side, the action scenes in "Fireball" are fantastic, not to mention bloody. People are impaled, bones are broken, flying kicks and punches are traded, blood spills-I could go on, but this aspect of the film is a lot of fun, and certainly earns it's R-rating. At it's best, the movie reminded me at times of 80's action movies like "Bloodsport", in that it shares a similar plot and has no clearer ambitions other than to give the viewer a bloody action movie that doesn't demand too much. In some cases here, it certainly succeeds.
That out of the way, while the acting is fine, the movie falters in the fact that there is little is any real characterization going on in the film. Without anybody to care about, many of the scenes in which there isn't anything action or maybe even sex related feel too long, not to mention kind of boring. The fact that there isn't much as far as characterization is concerned also hurts the various sub-plots-particularly one involving mob bosses-as we aren't given any other reason to take interest other than "Hey, look at what's happening now!" Without any way for the audience to invest in any of these characters or plot points, the viewer ends up getting bored, waiting for the next action scene.
I really can't recommend "Fireball", as it feels a bit too much like a missed opportunity to be a really fun piece of action trash. That out of the way, the action scenes are a lot of fun, and for a rainy day viewing, you can do a whole lot worse.