DVD Review: Battle Royale
The film tells the story of Shuya Nanahara, a high-school student struggling with the death of his father who is forced by the government to compete in a deadly game, where the students must kill each other in order to win. The film aroused both domestic and international controversy, and was either banned outright or deliberately excluded from distribution in several countries
The cast in this film is chock full of Japanese Stars. Kitano Takeshi (Kitano) plays the teacher that basically plays the ringleader. If you have watched spike TV, you have seen him before. This is the actor that plays as “Vic Ramono” on MXC. The rest of the cast is comprised of Japanese teen pop idols. Most notably, the gorgeous Chiaki Kuriyama (Chigusa). You probably know her too. She was Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill Vol 1. Ando Masanobu (Kiriyama) plays the most menacing villain I have ever seen.
Asside from the classic Japanese blood sprays and the amount of ammo some of the guns put out, there is great attention to detail in this film. From what I have read, since the author (Kinji Fukasaku) of the original book directed the film, everything is kept true to the book as close as possible. Every time a student dies, their names appear on the screen in the order they died. Inside the main building, there is huge system of screens that show who is dead and what not. Anyway, that screen is exact on the names as well as the ‘danger zone’ map. I had to look twice to realize that. That is damn good editing right there.
Battle Royale is a film that has affected many, many people. There are rabid fans of Battle Royale and there are even more people that hate it. Let me tell you why. Battle Royale is a film that exercises its right to explore an idea. Many films have great ideas but most are poorly realized. Battle Royale is simply an awesome movie about one of the most hypothetically traumatic things that could ever happen to teenagers. For those that don’t know, the film focuses on what happens when a group of high school students are sent to an abandoned island to kill each other. What brings such a bizarre idea to fruition includes civil unrest, teenage anxiety, and a nation literally terrorized by their youth. It’s set in Japan and though it is just a movie it still hit pretty close to reality due to current problems with Japanese youth. In fact, the film was poorly received by the government who feared that the release of the film would incite riots and other such acts of mayhem by the same youth which it focused on. The problem is the same the world around. Young people are much more volatile than they ever were say 20-30 years ago and Battle Royale captures the essence of the horror that today’s youth would face going into such a circumstance. Friends kill other friends and bullies all to survive. At the same time they get to live out those videogames that they loved to play at home.
The problem is that there can be only one survivor of this island massacre, this only adds extra pressure to the already unprepared children who have to fight for their lives. What is truly shocking is that the actors and actresses who have been selected to portray these teens are around the same ages of their characters. They aren’t the aging 20-30 somethings that just happen to look young; they are literally teenagers. This flick has some serious bite! It’s such a great comment on how we are living in the 21st century in a time when frequently the fear for a country comes from within rather than outside forces.
There are no easy or mindless deaths in Battle Royale. The violent scenes make the point that violence and death are not cool or funny. This is not Kill Bill; every character in Battle Royale has value as a living, breathing human being. It may sound corny to say that the movie is an emotional roller-coaster ride, but it truly is – having dared to give us three dimensional people who bleed when they are cut, the Director sometimes further dares to cruelly follow scenes of tragedy with jarring moments of biting, dark and sarcastic wit.
If this was an American movie, the class would be played by people in their twenties and thirties. Two or three of the students would be given a lot of screen time and the rest would be faceless cannon fodder. Five seconds after the opening titles, you would know who was going to survive. Despite its odd premise, Battle Royale seems closer to reality because its teenagers really are teenagers and it allows no comforting certainties about who lives or dies.
The true genius of Battle Royale lies in the talented playing of the entire cast. Although young, not one of them strikes a dud note and the script gives almost all of the students a chance to shine at some point. The fight scenes are not staged in the style of ‘Enter The Dragon’ – the kids are not weapons experts or Karate champions. We see them kill each other but we are not invited to hate them – they are, after all, children and they are scared and desperate. Even a student who takes to killing with apparent relish deserves our sympathy.
“Battle Royale” is one of the most controversial and challenging movies ever made.The film is very gory and violent,but it’s also witty,satirical and thought provoking.The concept of “Battle Royale” is pretty simple.The act of Battle Royale decrees that once a year a class of 9th graders is chosen at random,stranded on a small island,and armed with random weapons.The kids are also outfitted with strange necklaces that monitor their locations and life functions,and explode if more than one student is alive at the end of 72 hours.The kids are forced to become savage killers,and the movie provides them with interesting personalities and human reactions to the horrible situation in which they find themselves.The acting is brilliant and the violence is horrific and merciless.The film is very exciting and well-photographed.A masterpiece that needs to be seen by every true movie fan everywhere.
5 templar crosses out of 5
MUST WATCH…like right now…WATCH IT
Criticized by Japanese politicians when it was first released in 2000, the movie became a huge hit at home and in much of Asia, spawning a popular manga series, inspiring a sequel and generating memorabilia from costumes to card games and action figures.
Tatsuya Fujiwara as Shuya Nanahara
Aki Maeda as Noriko Nakagawa
Taro Yamamoto as Shogo Kawada
Takeshi Kitano as Kitano
Masanobu Ando as Kazuo Kiriyama
Kou Shibasaki as Mitsuko Souma
Takashi Tsukamoto as Shinji Mimura
Sosuke Takaoka as Hiroki Sugimura
Yukihiro Kotani as Yoshitoki Kuninobu
Chiaki Kuriyama as Takako Chigusa
Directed by Kinji Fukasaku