Cast: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Chiaki Kuriyama
Writers: Kousun Takami(Novel) Kenta Fukasaku
Director Kinji Fukasaku
For this review, I’m going to try my best and not make any comparisons to this and The Hunger Games trilogy. The debates on wither that author ripped off the novel or movie are irrelevant as far as I’m concerned. To be fair, most audiences wouldn’t have any idea about BR even existing. So it’s not at all that surprising that the author of Katniss and her adventures would have the same problems in not knowing about these 42 students with collars that explode. I have covered Battle Royale vs The Hunger Games before for Impassioned Cinema and you can read that post below the pic.
In an alternate universe. Parents are upset that kids are not giving them the respect they think they deserve. So an act is created where each year a different class of kids are picked to go to a deserted island and then forced to kill each other. There are no rules except that there can only be one survivor at the end. If not, then all of the collars they are attached with will explode and then no one wins. In the book it explains that TheBR Act is more of a form of control then just having kids kill each other. You could also maybe compare it to the draft when a major war starts too. It also can be seen as a satire of moving from childhood to adulthood. Many friendships end between the time you are a kid and where you are now. You may have not killed anyone or have been killed yourself, but there is some pain.
There are 42 students in this arena but our main characters are Shuya Nanahara(Tatsuya Fujiwara), his girlfriend Noriko Nakagawa(Aki Maeda), and Shogo Kawada(Taro Yamamoto). A former participant of these games who agrees to help out these two characters. As these characters try to survive we meet some of the other students and how they deal with the situation. A few of them play to win and go on a killing rampage. Others band together to hopefully stop the Government who are running the program. The book goes into much greater detail of all the kids but for a 113 minute feature. This one still manages to give you a lot of character development in a very short scenes. The scene where two players decide to take their own lives rather then play is well acted. The moment when a girl shoots a guy who later reveals he was in love with her was good despite not knowing anything about them. I also love the scene where the rules of Battle Royale are explained by a friendly woman on TV and of course the one where Chiaki Kuriyama(GoGo from “Kill Bill Vol 1“) stabs a dude in dick for attempting rape. But the one that is just too awesome for words is the light house scene
You may say that the acting in that scene is over the top and a bit too over dramatic, but I love that it is that way. We have so little time to spend with these people that sometimes their emotions need to to be ramped up just enough so we can be invested in the story. Their emotions need to to be ramped up just enough so we can be invested in the story. The use of violence is used to great effect because some times it’s humorous and campy and while others it’s suspenseful and horrific.
With all of the recent dystopian YA movies being released this year. I sometimes wonder why Battle Royale hasn’t gotten more exposure over the years. It has been seen by more people now then when it was first released and there were even talks about Americanized television series being made. The wave of school shootings that happened in the US may have also curbed people’s interest in this film. But don’t look at it as a gory horror film. Look at it like you would The Running Man, Death Race 2000, and Escape From New York. If you replaced these kids with adults. Would there still be an issue? Even without any social moral messages this film presents. It still stands alone as a good action movie and one that will last for years to come. Gathering new fans each year.
LAMBcast #128 Battle Royale http://manilovefilms.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/LAMBcast-128.mp3
Check out the other reviews set in by writers for that show as well
Listen to Alcohollywood’s most recent episode on this movie.
The Making of Battle Royale: A three part video that features interviews with the director and cast members.
Check out the video review Alex Jowski of Geek Juice Media made about the sequel Battle Royale II and how it’s not as bad as others would tell you