Unknown Horror: Battle Royale (Japanese, 2001)

by Glitch | 2/27/11

This movie by Kinji Fukasaku is Quentin Tarantino's favorite film made in the last 15 years, and it's easy to understand why. Battle Royale is twisted, dark, brutal, and original. Just imagine 42 grade school kids abandoned on an island and ordered to kill each other to the end; with only 1 student being able to survive. Uh yeah...talk about Survivor Island!

To be "fair," the students are given murder tools and provisions for three days. And to further spice up their killing spree mission, the students wear explosive neck braces that can be detonated remotely if they are not in specific sectors on the island at a certain time. The Rules of Battle Royale from the BR Act Committee are as follows:

My verdict: it's likely that you'll love this movie to it's bloody bits! It's not only supremely action-packed, but also has that mental / mind-boggling argument of "Can you kill your best friend?"

Needless to say, the story is engaging; the fight scenes are heart-stopping (and gory but no blood bath); the acting is quite impressive, too—especially Tatsuya Fujiwara's and Takeshi Kitano's stunning performance.

Though Battle Royale is controversial and disturbing, movies like this don't come along regularly, and it's exhilarating to watch films as unique and well-made as "Battle Royale." And I guess the movie simply wants to re-iterate the value of discipline, unity, and willpower. They've actually succeeding brilliantly illustrating this in a vividly provocative, violent movie—that's already a cult classic. I wouldn't even be surprised to see a remake coming any day. I'd love it if Battle Royale makes it to Hollywood lot. Or would I? It's prefect 'as is.'

Synopsis

At the dawn of the 21st century, Japan is in a state of anarchy. Crime, juvenile delinquency and violence are becoming more and more rampant. The government deems The Battle Royale Act as the only viable solution-cum-punishment to restore order.

For the year's Battle Royale, 42 delinquent 9th graders go on what seem like a school field trip; however, they are drugged and sent to a deserted island, where each of them are given a survival kit with a randomly chosen killing tool, map, compass, and enough food and water supply for three days. They also have to wear an explosive, remotely controlled neck collar that can be set off at anytime.

The mechanics of Battle Royale is simple. Under the supervision of their former teacher, Kitano (Takeshi "Beat" Kitano), students have to kill each other within three days. Only one of the 42 is allowed to live. If there is more than one person alive on the third day, everyone dies. The film concentrates on a few of the students and how they deal with the unfortunate situation.

Two students, Shuya Nanahara (Tatsuya Fujiwara) and Noriko Nakagawa (Aki Maeda), stick together and further cultivate their already formed friendship. A transfer student, Shogo Kawada (Taro Yamamoto), decides to help them.

Other students come up with a strategy to bring down the military-sponsored game, while others pursue their high school crush before they die. There are a few who also lose their sanity and partake on killing sprees.

The sole survivor will return, not as the winner, but as the ultimate evidence of the extent the Japanese government is ready to undergo to discipline delinquent teenagers as well as create a "Running Man" type of TV media sensation.