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The Glorious Team Batista
Glorious Team Batista

Hiroshi Abe and Yuko Takeuchi in The Glorious Team Batista.
Japanese:

チーム.バチスタの栄光

Year: 2008
Director: Yoshihiro Nakamura  
Writer:

Kiyomi Fujii, Hirotoshi Kobayashi

Cast:

Hiroshi Abe, Yuko Takeuchi, Sei Hiraizumi, Haruka Igawa, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Koji Kikkawa, Jun Kunimura, Yoko Nogiwa, Shiro Sano, Hiromasa Taguchi, Tetsuji Tamayama, Naoki Tanaka

The Skinny: This entertaining but unspectacular medical thriller is great for undemanding audiences. However, for those seeking real thrills, it's only a shade above average. Featuring a splendidly overacting Hiroshi Abe.
   
Review
by Kozo:

The Glorious Team Batista offers fans of heart surgery a front-row seat for plenty of open chest cavity action. Non-fans or the squeamish will have to fight the urge to look away, while also dealing with the film's blatantly commercial screenplay and direction. This Japanese crowd pleaser focuses on a medical team who perform the Batista Operation, a vaunted surgical procedure that relieves left ventricular failure, a condition where the heart's left ventricle is so enlarged as to become physiologically unable to support regular blood flow. The seven-member team is so adept at the procedure that they've conquered the 60% success rate of the operation, and are working on a streak of over 25 successful Batista Operations in a row. Good job, guys!

Sadly, the streak ends when not one but three of their patients end up dead on the operating table. The sudden losses are a bit much for the hospital to swallow, so internal investigator Taguchi (Yuko Takeuchi) is asked to take a look. She does, revealing a mix of personalities among the surgical team, from the new and somewhat hysterical nurse to the crippled pathologist, the ultra-professional anesthesiologist, the passed-over-for-promotion assisting surgeon, etc., etc. Director Yoshihiro Nakamura hands the facts to the audience in efficient commercial style, with a TV-documentary introduction followed by cursory investigation from Taguchi where she observes their personality traits and potential for screwing up, followed by an ultra-cute comparison to an animal that's supposed to make her results easier to understand. Taguchi's report is inconclusive, which is understandable since she's ultra-nice and rather passive, while the members of Team Batista possess the charisma and confidence required for those in high-risk medical jobs. Basically, she's out of her depth here.

No matter. Her evaluation is summarily dismissed by health ministry bureaucrat Shiratori (Hiroshi Abe), who swoops into town and proceeds to act like the bigshot government official that he is. Within minutes he decides that the deaths are actually murders, and he proceeds to strut around the hospital, alienating people with his uncouth, witty ways and general air of superiority. Shiratori is an arrogant, insufferable, and utterly charismatic maverick and Abe infuses the role with as much showy overacting as he can muster - short of wearing bright red suits or having pizza delivered to the operating room. If The Glorious Team Batista manages to entertain, Abe and his grizzled star charisma is a large reason why. Unfortunately, Abe probably belongs in another film entirely, as his character is so removed from reality that he should be wearing a T-shirt with the words "Movie Character" printed on it.

Then again, The Glorious Team Batista is a ragingly obvious commercial film, with manufactured characters, drama, and situations that seem ripped from a pulpy bestseller you might find featured in an airport bookstore (Surprise! The film is based on a novel.). This is a big-screen medical thriller built for mainstream audiences, and it seldom delivers anything beyond the required or expected. That said, the ins and the outs of the case do prove somewhat tense, and the constant heart surgery scenes may keep the most squeamish on their toes (though to be fair, they're so bloodless that it's easy to become desensitized to them). Abe is fun to watch, and Takeuchi has a warm and pleasant screen presence, which helps offset her thin character. There's even a certain chilling quality to the film's denouement that gives it the appearance of greater meaning. Regardless, the whole is too glossy and commercial to be anymore more than an average medical thriller suited to undemanding audiences. Demanding audiences may prefer real surgery to The Glorious Team Batista. At least I now know what a Batista Operation is. (Kozo, Reviewed at the Udine Far East Film Festival, 2008)

   
Availability: DVD (Japan)
Region 2 NTSC
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Japanese Language Track
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS
Removable English Subtitles
Various Extras
 

image courtesy of Tokyo Broadcasting System

   
   
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