2.5 stars (out of 4)
Based on the true story of the legendary Japanese-Canadian Asahi baseball team, which achieved success against brawnier Caucasian opponents through its members’ “brain-ball” style of playing.
The acting was better and more restrained than in many Japanese films I’ve seen. English lines were delivered competently by both Japanese and non-Japanese actors for the most part, as well. We were warned ahead of time that the film’s pacing would be on the slow and deliberate side, especially for a sports movie.
This was a Japanese-made film, but the subject matter was not truly a Japanese story at all. Its focus was on the challenges faced by Canadians of Japanese descent in the years leading up to WWII, with racial discrimination as the primary root cause of the struggles.
As borne out by historical events, baseball obviously did not change the world in this instance; the war continued and the internment occurred. But it was a baby step toward mutual understanding and The Asahi served as a symbol of hope.
To this day, some discrimination against visible minorities still exists in Canada, but I’d like to think that we’ve come a long way in these past 75 years.