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Story is secondary in the 2009 Thai actioner "Fireball," which begins with a big blast of exposition to get "plot" right out of the way. Misunderstood thug Tai (Preeti Barameeanat) is told about his brother, Tan, being beaten within an inch of his life, landing him comatose in the hospital. Tai tracks his brother's doings to an underground sport known as "fireball," which is basketball mixed with the martial art of muy thai, making b-ball into a game of brutal, bloody violence.

These sequences give "Fireball" a punch "? no pun intended "? which is good, but the rest of the movie is average, from shades of romance to a lot of scowling between the sides of bad and good. When you make a movie like "Fireball," however, fun should be the goal, but director/co-writer Thanakorn Pongsuwan tends to bog things down. It comes alive when action is at the forefront, such as mid-film, with a chase through a miserable apartment building that allows for some parkour.

As far as Asian sports films, "Fireball" is no "Shaolin Soccer." As far as Thai films in general, it's no "Ong-Bak," either. It's just kinda there, which may be all you require for a slick, mindless rental that occasionally delivers. "?Rod Lott


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