Battle Royale (2000) – Film Review

Battle RoyaleBattle Royale

Starring Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Takeshi Kitano

Directed by Kinji Fukasaku, based on the novel by Koushun Takami

IMDB Rating: 7.8

The Japanese cult film portraying an extreme, graphic, terrifying and probably more realistic Hunger Games*.

After the turn of the millennium, and with Japan falling to new lows, the government draw up the revolutionary ‘Battle Royale’ act. Under the act, one class is selected at random and transported to an uninhabited island. On the island they are each given supplies, along with a random weapon, and are forced to fight each other in a bloody, no-holds-barred fight to the death. The fight lasts over three days, and there can only be one winner – or everybody is killed.

Comparisons are immediately drawn between this and the relatively new dystopian franchise The Hunger Games. the stories are very similar – kids sent to an island by the government to survive and fight between each other, against their will (most of them), until there is one survivor left. However, the main difference between the two is the while Hunger Games is a 12A (PG-13), Battle Royale is an 18. Also, where THG is a small group of kids on a small island, BR is a huge group of kids on an expansive island full of secrets. Battle Royale is a graphic movie, with gore and horror thrown in your face from the start. The classical score at the beginning gives you a sense of danger, and an overriding power like the act is forced upon them. Even the BR logo is slightly scary. It is a film that packs a punch, showing lots of action and emotion all the way through, rarely slowing its pace from start to finish. The way it jumps from story to story, person to person, fight to fight as it goes keeps interests high and keeps you glued to the screen – even if all the fighting scenarios get a bit repetitive towards the end.

The acting performances are good, but I think it’s hard to properly judge them from my point of view due to the language barrier. It’s hard to completely understand what they are trying to do with their tone and their body language, especially when you’re trying to read subtitles as well. However they all looked professional and none of the actors looked out of place.

The shots in the film by Kinji Fukasaku are also good. The film itself looks like it’s older than 2000, but that still doesn’t take away from the movie and the effects are good and believable. There was some scenes where something or someone would appear seemingly out of thin air which was weird, but on the other hand most of the deaths felt real and some of the gore made you writhe and cringe, exactly what Fukasaku would have wanted.

After criticising The Hunger Games: Mockingjay for lacking action, this was a brilliant film and exactly what The Hunger Games would have been if I was put in charge! Personally I never thought I could watch a completely subtitled foreign film until I watched this, so don’t let that put you off seeing what is a twisted masterpiece. I would not recommend you let your kids watch this late at night – it probably gives Katniss Everdeen herself nightmares!

*Just to clarify, I don’t think Battle Royale is a version of The Hunger Games. It just made sense to compare it to that at the beginning as nearly everyone has seen them films. This film was out way before Suzanne Collins’ series, so personally I see The Hunger Games as Battle Royale for kids.

Seen Battle Royale? Tell us what you thought!

Also, we want to hear what you think is more likely to happen first (if at all) – a Battle Royale scenario or The Hunger Games?

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