Sunday, April 22, 2007

ping pong

Ping Pong (Fumihiko Sori, 2002) - 8.5/10

Is a game just a game? Or is a game more than just a game? Two questions and two characters with different mindsets to the game of ping pong. Peco and Smile are two friends who play for a school ping pong team. One has all the talent in the world and fails to utilize them completely. He views the game as just a game to pass time. One brings arrogance with him to the game, but fails to realize his faults. Whether those faults are within his skill range or the faults lie within life. Butterfly Joe is the school's ping pong coach. Once considered one of the best in the game, Butterfly Joe attempts to squeeze the hidden potential Smile possesses. Is this an attempt to relive the glory days of Butterfly Joe's career? Tension mounts within each character. Within inside themselves or confrontation between each other.

These are the strong points within the film. The character developments that occur through the strains of these characters fills the film with emotion, character, and heart. The supporting cast completes the already excellent cast, bringing with them their own set of persona. A ping pong player from China (named China) wants to prove his skills and worth, something he failed to accomplish back in his own school national team. Dragon and Akuma play for the same team that rivals Peco and Smile. One is a two time champion with a strict discipline and routine. The other puts everything he has on the line -- from countless hours of practice -- but never lives to his own expectations. And finally Obaba, the owner of a ping pong dojo, and one who trains Peco to whip him back into game shape and get his mind back on track.

With each competitor striving to hold themselves in check, it brings unpredictable results to some of the competitive matches between the characters. Another reason this film differs from the majority of sports films and cliches. The conclusion brings two competitors together, as rivals and as friends. The outcome is an unpredictable and solemn approach between two people who are playing a game that means more than the game itself. Ping Pong uses some CGI effects, excellent cinematography, an amazing soundtrack with a fusion of futuristic beats and video game-like tunes that fit the game play scenes, and brilliant metaphoric imagery to capture the resonance of these characters' dreams and persona.

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