You ever see the movie The Scout? I’ll summarize it for you: Albert Brooks plays a major league baseball scout who discovers immaculately-named phenom Steve Nebraska (Brendan Fraser) playing in a tiny rural town in Mexico. Nebraska has a 100+ mph fastball and the ability to hit moonshot home runs seemingly on demand. Brooks’s character, Al Percolo, brings him to the United States, where his talent wows everyone but he faces issues related to his new fame and being a fish out of water. He eventually overcomes all of that to help his team win The Big Game, and Al learns some lessons about friendship and What Is Really Important in the process. The End.
Okay, now replace Brendan Fraser with a 600 lb. dinger-smashing Chinese circus gorilla named Ling Ling. That’s basically the plot of the 2013 Korean movie Mr. Go. Mr. Go is a good movie.
I’m sure you have a few questions. Please, fire away.
A DINGER-SMASHING CIRCUS GORILLA?
Yup, you read that right. Ling Ling and his 15-year-old trainer Wei Wei work for Wei Wei’s baseball-loving grandfather at China’s Ronhua Circus. Through a process that is never really explained, Ling Ling is taught how to understand language and smash pitched baseballs. It’s best to just go with it. Unfortunately, Ling Ling’s grandfather — who is repeatedly referred to as “a crazy old fart” in the English subtitles, possibly because his business plan involved bringing in a second gorilla (who turns out to be evil!) to pitch to Ling Ling — dies in an earthquake about five minutes into the movie. And he had a mountain of gambling debt at the time of his death, so Wei Wei is forced to take the show on the road to try to pay off some shady loan sharks and follow her dream of opening her own circus called Circus of the Sun.
Enter a super-agent named Sung, whose nickname is “The Bounty Hunter,” and who is infamous for taking popular players from Asia and selling them off to American teams. He proposes that Ling Ling sign a contract with a Korean baseball team called the Doosan Bears..
Are gorillas even allowed to play professional baseball?
Excellent question. The answer is yes, apparently, as we find out during some sort of sports roundtable show that starts with the host saying “It doesn’t say anywhere that a baseball team has to be made up of nine humans” and features the agent saying “Man is his own worst enemy. A trained animal is much safer than an irrational man.”
So is this where Ling Ling starts hitting home runs?
Boy howdy, is it ever. After Ling Ling — whose name has now been changed to Mr. Go, because this movie is goddamn incredible — smashes a pitch off the Jumbotron 450 feet away in his first at bat, we get a four-minute dinger montage set to, not joking, “Walk of Life” by Dire Straits. There are showboating no-look dingers…
… and dingers where he golfs the ball into the cosmos after the pitcher tries to walk him by rolling the ball to home plate…
… and dingers where he backhands the ball into the left field stands when the pitcher tries to throw behind him.
How many GIFs of gorillas hitting home runs do you have on your computer right now?
That’s not important. A lot. Let’s just say I have “a lot” of GIFs of gorillas hitting home runs.
Fair enough. Wait, what position does Mr. Go play? First base? I bet he plays first base.
Incorrect. Mr. Go only pinch hits. He comes in once a game, usually when the bases are loaded, and hits a home run almost every time. And the one time he didn’t hit the ball over the fence he just barreled around the bases steamrolling the other team’s players, and the catcher ran away instead of trying to tag him. Inside-the-park home run!
If you were to extrapolate his stats over a full American baseball season, factoring in his one strikeout and the fact that he only plays home games, that works out to a slash line of .988/.988/3.95 with 80 home runs and something hovering around 300 RBI. That’s pretty good.
It sure is! Wait, how did he strike out the one time? And why does he only play home games?
Funny story about that. One day Wei Wei was pouting in the agent’s luxury high-rise condominium (where she and Mr. Go live, obviously), and she decided not to travel with the team for the next game. The agent opted to try to handle Mr. Go himself. It did not go well.
The short version is that Mr. Go struck out and charged into the stands on a rampage, and the authorities were called in to try to neutralize him with helicopters and bazookas filled with nets. For this, he was forbidden to play away games.
Hold on. That’s it? That was the entire punishment?
And this actually brings us to my favorite part of the movie. The agent is so bummed out about negative public perception of Mr. Go potentially costing him a big contract commission down the line that he gets stupid drunk on beer and rice wine in his condo. WITH MR. GO. HE GETS DRUNK WITH THE GORILLA. AND GIVES THE GORILLA SPICY KIMCHI AS A PRACTICAL JOKE. AND THEY WAKE UP THE NEXT MORNING LIKE THIS.
We’ve all been there.
Anyway, after getting over his hangover (and kind of trying to shoot Mr. Go with a rifle for eating all his expensive house plants during their brief bender), the agent comes up with a plan to rehabilitate Mr. Go’s image. Rather than explain this plan to you by taking on the impossible task of stringing together the appropriate words and punctuation to do it justice, allow me to present this GIF devoid of further context.
HE’S WEARING A VEST!
So then what happens? I mean, where the hell can this movie even go from there?
Oh, it goes. Like a friggin’ rocketship. But before we get to that, I think I need to backtrack to fill-in a couple areas. Hang with me for a sec.
First of all, the agent is a sleazeball. I gave you the candy-coated highlights so far, but by this point in the movie he has also (1) withheld the entire amount of Mr. Go’s $300,000 salary from young Wei Wei, telling her that she will only collect once he fulfills his entire obligation to the team; (2) started negotiating $100 million contracts with two Japanese teams for Mr. Go’s services behind the backs of just about every person who has trusted him; and (3) hidden information about Mr. Go’s severely damaged knee, going so far as to slap the doctor who performed the physical and threaten his life multiple times. (Actual dialogue: “I have to report this.” “Report what? That your body swept up from the Han River? Or that your entire family died in a house fire? Is that what you want?”) Other than that, really great guy.
Yeah. Second, remember those shady Chinese loan sharks I mentioned at the beginning? They show up at the circus intent on collecting their debt one way or another, which they do by kidnapping that other gorilla — the one Wei Wei’s grandfather brought in to be a pitcher — and selling its services to a different team in the Korean league. This gorilla is named Zoraz and is super aggressive. Zoraz and Mr. Go do not like each other.
Oh, also the Doosan announcers always explain Mr. Go’s actions on the field by saying “If you watch NatGeo…” like they’ve been DVRing every gorilla show they can find to sound knowledgeable, and one time a pitcher walked Mr. Go by refusing to pitch and getting the umpire to call balls due to “the 12-second rule,” and everyone in the stands, including the team’s executives, responded by heaving bananas onto the field in frustration.
That seems unprofessional, no?
Okay, this brings us to the dramatic conclusion. You won’t even believe it. There is so much happening here. Let’s do the next part with bullet points. Bullet points will help.
- Mr. Go’s team is just starting the playoffs against Zoraz’s team, and they are in big trouble without him stepping in to hit emergency bombs, especially since Zoraz routinely cracks 100 mph on the radar gun and throws so hard that his catcher flies to the backstop on almost every pitch. Also, the Bears get to play every game of the series at home because the other team’s stadium is “under construction.” I was going to point out how ridiculous this is, but then I remembered this is a movie about two baseball-playing circus gorillas facing off in a Korean playoff game, so… Moving on.
- Mr. Go’s knee injury has flared up something fierce. He’s laid up in makeshift hospital set-up in the agent’s condo with the poor doctor from earlier trying to treat him in secret, and in danger of losing the leg entirely because … of reasons. It’s a little unclear. The long and short of it is that they jack him up on morphine and bring him to the stadium unconscious.
- If Mr. Go’s injury is discovered it will destroy any chance he has of signing the big contract that will allow Wei Wei to open Circus of the Sun.
- The negotiations with the Japanese teams have hit a snag, what with Zoraz showing up and the agent refusing to agree to a physical, for obvious reasons. In fact, one of the teams actually signs Zoraz during the game. The agent responds to this somewhat poorly…
… until the other team literally hands him a blank check and waives the physical so they don’t get left behind in what has essentially become a gorilla-based arms race in Japanese professional baseball. I repeat: Mr. Go is a good movie.
So that’s where we are, say, mid-eighth inning of this playoff game.
So then the owner and GM of the Korean team come charging into the locker room to find out where Mr. Go is, and discover him passed out on a table, injured as all hell. They’re super pissed, and they actually call the cops on the agent to report him for fraud. During the game. While a second gorilla is pitching.
Before the agent is hauled away, his heart grows three sizes — Grinch-style — and he decides to write $1 million on the blank check from the Japanese owners and give it to Wei Wei to start her circus, which kinda seems like piling fraud on top of fraud. Eh, in for a penny, in for one million illicitly obtained dollars given to a child, I guess. Blank Check taught us this.
Look, that’s nice and everything, but hasn’t it been a long time since a gorilla hit a home run here?
About to get to that. As all that other stuff is happening, Mr. Go rises from his medically-induced slumber and makes his way to the field for the Bears’ final at-bat, over the doctor’s objections, to face Zoraz. (For what it’s worth, Zoraz has ripped off his jersey and is now mowing batters down butt-naked during a playoff game. I can’t believe Brian Wilson never tried this during his Giants heyday.) The problem is that he can’t plant on his right leg to generate power, and the leg brace that was supposed to provide support flew off his knee and fell apart after his second feeble swing.
Yes. He turns around mid-at-bat to hit left-handed for the first time in the movie, and then this happens on the next pitch…
Hang on. Haaaaaaaang on. Did he just hit that baseball so hard it exploded?
What do you even do when a live baseball explodes during a game?
Terrific question. Apparently, according to the Korean baseball rulebook that exists in this movie’s universe, the team in the field has to scramble around and collect every piece of the disintegrated ball and tag the runner to make an out.
So Mr. Go has to race around the bases on one good leg to try to score before they find all the pieces, and it looks like they — and I do mean “they,” as each player on the team has a handful of baseball shrapnel — tag him out just before his hand reaches home plate. THE BEARS LOSE!
But. BUT. Just then umpire spots a small piece of the ball laying on the infield. They missed one! BEARS WIN!
Good Lord, that was an emotional rollercoaster. I’m glad it’s over.
Guess what, though…
It’s not over because GORILLA FIGHT.
Zoraz goes insane and starts attacking everyone by whizzing baseballs at them, and when the agent and Wei Wei rush onto the field in the bullpen cart to try to calm Zoraz down, Zoraz chases them, knocks the agent unconscious with a 110 mph heater on the dead run, and proceeds to flip the cart over. That’s where Mr. Go steps in, as you can see in the GIF, and starts whupping ass. It’s amazing. And remember, this happens on the field at the end of a playoff baseball game that was decided by a walkoff inside-the-park home run in which a circus gorilla hit a baseball — thrown by a different, evil circus gorilla — so hard that it practically vaporized on impact. Lot going on here.
The headline in the next day’s Korean newspaper? “Playoff Game Ends In Gorilla Skirmish.”
Not enough playoff games end in gorilla skirmishes.
No argument here.
Anyway, the movie ends with a flash forward that shows us two things: First, the agent, fresh out of jail, swings by Wei Wei’s successful Circus of the Sun, where he is immediately tackled and ticked by a now-healthy Mr. Go. It is adorable. But second, and much, much more importantly, the shady loan shark shows up at the zoo where Zoraz now lives and hucks a football into the gorilla enclosure. And Zoraz picks up the football. THEY APPEAR TO BE TEASING A FOOTBALL-BASED MR. GO SEQUEL IN WHICH ZORAZ THE EVIL GORILLA BECOMES A QUARTERBACK. I THINK THIS MIGHT END UP BEING THEIR AIR BUD, YOU GUYS. HOLY SH*T.
I need to see that football movie. Anything else you wanna add in closing?
I dunno. Wanna see another GIF of Mr. Go hitting a dinger?