Film Review: Battle Royale (2000)

SYNOPSIS:

Future Japan has fallen into a state of anarchy and pupils are refusing to go to school. To deal with this the state has instituted the Battle Royale Act. The 9th Grade class from Zenjutsi High School goes on a field trip only to be gassed unconscious in the bus. They come around on an island where they are informed them that they have been placed in the Battle Royale – a competition where they must kill each other until only one is left alive. They only have three days, who will survive?

REVIEW:

Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Cast: “Beat” Takeshi Kitano, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Taro Yamamoto, Masanobu Ando, Kou Shibasaki, Chiaki Kuriyama, Sousuke Takaoka, Eri Ishikawa, and Yûko Miyamura.

As an avid lover of Japanese game shows, especially batsu games, and Asian horror, I thoroughly enjoyed this film! It was a healthy mix of punishment, survival, blood-letting, and revenge. It was terrifying, violent, and vicious. Great plot, no time wasted getting into the story, and the characters were real, which made their deaths all the more tragic.

It is present-day Japan and violent crime among teenagers is out of control. For sheer fun teens stab their teachers in the halls and run away laughing. The teens get a kick out of these flyby attacks, smiling or giggling as their teachers collapse to the floor, bleeding, screaming in pain. (Hell, I even think THAT’s funny). Adults not only fear the youth, but are sick of lenient laws that allow this delinquency (Sounds a little like L.A. to me, but who am I to say, I just live here). Anyway, the government panics, passing the Millennium Education Reform – or “Battle Royale” – Act.

But even with the Battle Royale act in effect, there are numerous schools to choose from and only one class at a time can participate on the survival of the fittest desolate island. So like any typical deviant, the teens continue to commit violence, unconcerned with the consequences.

You may be asking, “What exactly is the BR ACT”? Well, it is something we need here in America! Essentially it is survival, punishment, sweet revenge, and violence. Not that we don’t have it here already, but let’s bump this crap up a notch! Let’s not beat around the bush here America, let’s just blend our fixation with playschool reality shows with everything else we love, murder, mayhem, deceit, and retribution.

But for the movie, the BR act is Japanese society’s payback to juvenile delinquents. Essentially, each class is chosen one by one by an impartial lottery, the class is sent to a deserted island, provided various random weapons, and told to kill their classmates. The last one alive can go home. To make sure the rules are kept to and that students don’t linger in one area too long, each student wears a collar, which monitors their pulse, sends information back to HQ on their position, and if necessary, explodes killing who ever is wearing it. Each hour a new area of the island is deemed a Danger Zone, whoever is in the d-zone has their collar detonated. If there is more than one survivor at the end of the 72 hour period, all collars explode. Lord of the Flies and Saw wrapped up into one! YES!!!!!

The movie starts with a bloody young girl smiling being swarmed by the media as “The Winner.” The father of Shuya Nanahara (Tatsuya Fujiwara) hangs himself on the first day of the Shuya’s 7th grade school term, leaving a suicide note saying, “You can make it Shuya.” Noriko Nakagawa (Aki Maeda) is bullied and turns up late for class, only to find that she is the only one to turn up at all; while as the teacher, Kitano (Takeshi Kitano), walks away in disgust, he is stabbed in the thigh by a rebellious student, Yosh*toki “NOBU” Kuninobu (Yukihiro Kotani).

Fast forward two years. Unaware of the results of the lottery, 9th Grade Class B is taking an end of year field trip. All 40 students are on their bus, some having a good time, some picking on others, some bonding with friends, and of course hints of puppy love. Nanahara notices large numbers of soldiers along the roadside. Noriko’s friend, Megumi (Sayaka Ikeda), encourages the shy girl to give the cookies she baked to Nanahara, who she has a crush on.

Nanahara awakens to find his classmates unconscious. To his bewilderment, he sees that the bus driver and another female are wearing gas masks.. Seeing him awake, he is administered a vicious blow, rendering him unconscious. When the students regain consciousness, they are in a strange classroom and are wearing metal collars locked around their necks. A helicopter lands outside the school and to the teen’s surprise, emerges Kitano. Let’s think about this here for a moment, Kitano…the teacher that was stabbed by a student two years earlier is now the Game Master!!

Kitano then proceeds to explain what is happening: that Class B has been chosen by lottery under the Battle Royale Act. As the students listen in disbelief, Kitano tells them that it is their own fault, that their generation is no good and that they are what is wrong with Japan. The students ask to se their current teacher. Kitano obliges by bringing in his beaten body on a stretcher and gladly reminding the students that their new teacher didn’t agree with the law of BR and was punished. He then shows them a perky and somewhat comical training video explaining the rules of the Battle Royale. With contempt for whispering, Kitano demonstrates his level of seriousness by hurling a knife into one of the student’s heads that chose not to heed his warning. Nobu, the student that stabbed Kitano years prior, loses control and tries to attack Kitano. As you can imagine, Kitano graciously takes the opportunity to demonstrate just how the collars work. The students are each given a kit containing food and water, a map and a compass, a randomly assigned weapon, and sent out to the island. Let the games begin.

Once on the island, the range of personalities of the students is uncovered one by one, from petty, backstabbing (no pun intended), and manipulative to heroic. Throughout the course of the three day survival period, teen love and friendships are tested. Friends either become enemies or band together, because in the end, no matter what, only one can survive.

This is a horror-thriller- action movie worthy of watching! It doesn’t waste time getting to the point, doesn’t visually fixate over and over on boring and unbelievable special effects, and is highly entertaining!

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DISC LIMITED EDITION SET FEATURES:

(BRAND NEW RESTORED TRANSFER IN GLORIOUS HIGH DEFINITION 1080P OF BOTH FILMS)
BRAND NEW SUBTITLE TRANSLATION ON BOTH FEATURES
LIMITED EDITION PACKAGING NUMBERED #/5000 WITH CERTIFICATE
LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE SPECIAL FEATURES
DISC 1 THEATRICAL CUT: SPECIAL FEATURES

ORIGINAL THEATRICAL TRAILER
THE MAKING OF BATTLE ROYALE: THE EXPERIENCE OF 42 HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
CONDUCTING BATTLE ROYALE WITH THE WARSAW NATIONAL PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
DISC 2 SPECIAL EDITION [DIRECTOR S CUT]: SPECIAL FEATURES

SPECIAL EDITION TRAILER
TV SPOT: TARANTINO VERSION
SHOOTING THE SPECIAL EDITION
TAKESHI KITANO INTERVIEW
THE CORRECT WAY TO MAKE BATTLE ROYALE [BIRTHDAY VERION]
TOKYO INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL PRESENTATION
DISC 3 SPECIAL FEATURES

OPENING DAY AT MARU NO UCHI TOEI MOVIE THEATRE
THE SLAUGHTER OF 42 HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
PREMIERE PRESS CONFERENCE
THE CORRECT WAY TO FIGHT IN BATTLE ROYALE
ROYALE REHEARSALS
MASAMICHI AMANO CONDUCTS BATTLE ROYALE SPECIAL EFFECTS COMPARISON
BEHIND THE SCENES FEATURETTE
FILMING ON SET
TV SPOTS, PROMOS AND COMMERCIALS
KINJI FUKASAKU TRAILER REEL
32 PAGE COMIC

36 PAGE BOOKLET INCLUDING:

A BATTLE WITHOUT AN END BY TOM MES, AUTHOR OF THE MIDNIGHT EYE GUIDE TO NEW JAPANESE FILM
PRINTED INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR KINJI FUKASAKU
TODAY S LESSON IS… YOU KILL EACH OTHER BY JAY MCROY, AUTHOR OF JAPANESE HORROR CINEMA [LE EXCLUSIVE]
EXTRACT FROM KOUSHUN TAKAMI S ORIGINAL NOVEL [LE EXCLUSIVE]
ORIGINAL PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL INCLUDING DIRECTOR S STATEMENT, CAST AND CREW BIOGS [LE EXCLUSIVE]
16 PAGE BOOKLET INCLUDING:

CONCEPT ARTWORK AND DRAWINGS FOR THE LIMITED EDITION SET [LE EXCLUSIVE]
5X7 POSTCARDS OF STILLS FROM THE FILM [LE EXCLUSIVE]

FOLD-OUT REVERSIBLE POSTER OF ORIGINAL ARTWORK

 Battle Royale is now available on Bluray per Anchor Bay

Battle Royale (Batoru Rowaiaru) (2000)

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