According to Thanakorn Pongsuwan's movie, fireball's been around since 1974 -- the league still has the original game ball -- but this is the first time it's been depicted on film. The release of Fireball may reflect a liberalization of the sport, since the film's expose of corrupt practices in management might not have made it past censorship during the period when most people didn't realize that the game existed. It turns out that league teams are run by gangsters who can make more money by making and taking bets than they'd earn in championship prize money. For that reason many games are fixed, and the players get in on the act sometimes for various reasons. One guy has his twin brother's medical care to worry about. Another's trying to pay his girlfriend's debts to avoid her relapsing into prostitution. Still another, half black, has a baby on the way to take care of. Things are tough all over in the world of fireball. Off court, a good deal of the action takes place in a sprawling dilapidated apartment complex, and given the dirty goings on the Fireball movie sometimes comes across like a cross between Gomorrah and Gymkata.
In practice, the basketball side of fireball looks pretty superfluous. Perhaps it was imagined entirely in the hope of attracting an American audience. But it went straight to DVD in this country last month, so so much for that idea. Fireball is really a hopeless proposition. Its Thai fighting is second rate, and the only way the basketball angle would have meant anything to American audiences is if there'd been an American character in the movie. That leaves indiscriminate violence as the only potential attraction for anyone other than those on the alert for bad movies. I rented this from the Albany Public Library fully expecting a bad "new sport" movie, though holding out hope for something better. I suppose I wasn't really disappointed, since I expected it to stink, but unless you're into utterly mindless violence that doesn't even stink in a memorably entertaining way you can abandon hope before renting Fireball.
For a moment I thought Fireball was going to finish with a real flourish, with its chain-link basket becoming an improvised flying guillotine, but the film is not that imaginative.
The film does have it's admirers, and if you want a second opinion here's a review from someone who's seen more Thai films than I have. And here's an English-subtitled trailer, uploaded to YouTube by richyjac: