Flick to depict Taiwan’s first baseball team

by Ko Shu-Ling

Kyodo

The producer of an upcoming Taiwanese film about the island’s first baseball team said he is confident it will resonate with audiences the world over.

“I hope the audience looks at Taiwan’s history like they look at their life story,” Wei Te-sheng said. “No matter whether it’s a good life or a bad one, it’s beautiful.”

The movie, with the working title “Kano,” is about the struggle of a high school baseball team from the city of Chiayi.

The team, composed of Japanese, Han Chinese and indigenous players, was invited in 1931 to Japan’s annual Koshien national high school tournament and made it all the way to the final. Although it did not win the tournament, the team did win the hearts of Japanese baseball fans.

Two previous box-office hits that Wei directed also had Japanese themes, but he said that’s just the way things turned out because the two countries are so closely connected. Japan ruled Taiwan from 1895 to 1945.

Wei wrote the script, raised the money and asked Masatoshi Nagase to play the key role of the team’s coach. “He’s the No. 1 choice. I never thought of asking anyone else,” Wei said.

It is the second Taiwanese film in which Nagase is appearing.

Nagase played little league baseball as a child and said he can relate to the emotions of ballplayers, adding he is looking forward to sharing the story with audiences not only in Taiwan but in Japan and other countries.

Umin Boya, who directed “Kano,” praised Nagase as “a professional actor who taught him a lot.”

Shooting began in November with a budget of 250 million New Taiwan dollars (¥780 million). The film is expected to hit theaters in spring 2014.