Baseball and redemption have been thematic teammates on movie screens for ages, and the heart-tugging, family-friendly Korean sports drama “Glove” shows that it’s a matchup not relegated to just these shores. Throw a ball marked “disgraced major league player” at a bat labeled “deaf school’s junior high baseball team” and you can imagine exactly how that high-concept crack is going to sound.
Yet there’s an undeniable Mudville joy and thrill-of-competition seriousness to director Woo-seok Kang’s bright, crisp handling of this schmaltzy material, which allows for weary-eyed star Jae-young Jung to maintain a compelling authoritative surliness, for issues of pride and hard work to be explored thoughtfully and for baseball scenes to methodically breathe their way into authenticity and genuine tension.
Sure, there’s the obligatory training montage, the expected transformation of a loner kid into a team player and, after a grueling and well-played sequence in which the boys learn about the indignity of being pitied rather than outplayed, we get a regrettably mood-sapping “you don’t just hear with your ears” speech.
But for the most part, “Glove,” while overlong by a good half hour, has a sentimental professionalism and bracing humor, qualities that might make even the game’s most hard-hearted adherents realize that occasionally, given the right circumstances, there can be crying in baseball.
“Glove.” No MPAA rating. Running time: 2 hours, 24 minutes. At CGV Cinemas, Los Angeles.