6 July 2015 | romanorum1
A "Gaijin" Baseball Player in Japan
Jack Elliot (Tom Selleck), former World Series MVP for the New York Yankees, is traded to the Chunichi (Nagoya) Dragons of Japan. Although Elliot is on the downside of his career, he has not lost all of his playing skills. Now the trade doesn't stir well with the drinking, smoking, and womanizing egomaniac. Knowing little about Japanese culture, cuisine, and mannerisms, the gaijin (foreign) Elliot's awful attitudes form the basic plot of this not unlikeable movie. You just know that the American will quickly butt heads with unflappable Dragon manager Uchiyama (Ken Takakura). Meanwhile, as athletes attract attractive woman, Hiroko Uchiyama (Aya Takanashi) will become Elliot's love interest. But Hiroko, who is no bimbo, is an advertising professional who makes commercials for Japanese television. So can the love interest last?
Along the way Elliot would do well to heed the advice of new Dragon teammate Max "Hammer" Dubois (Dennis Haysbert), not a Frenchmen but an African-American. Dubois, earlier traded to the Dragons, had the gumption to learn Japanese ways and some of the language. Fitting in as well as he can, Dubois is resigned to his challenging situation. Conversely, as Elliot is green in Japan, he is accompanied by an interpreter, Yoji Nishimura (Toshi Shioya), who is wise enough to clean up the American's sardonic comments for the Japanese press. Overall, the movie does well in depicting the Japanese sports culture: manager-player interaction, the fanfare of the large crowds (which appear genuine), umpire esteem, corporate pressure on the managers, and the voracious sports media. Also note the importance placed on saving face, which means that certain on-field events are sometimes compromised. The climax involves the big game between the Dragons and their traditional rivals who always seem to beat them, the Yomiuri Giants. Will Elliot find redemption? Watch and find out!
PS: Know that the Japanese certainly love their baseball, and have played it a long time. The sport was introduced in Japan in the late 19th century! In 1934 Manager Connie Mack, Babe Ruth (called "Beibu Rusu"), Lou Gehrig, Charlie Gehringer, Jimmie Foxx, OSS spy Moe Berg, and other Major League Baseball all-stars visited and were greeted by huge and enthusiastic crowds.