65: Battle Royale

Battle Royale – June 12, 2001
Starring: Takeshi Kitano, Chiaki Kuriyama
Written by: Kenta Fukasaku
Directed by: Kinji Fukasaku

The plot: “In the future, the Japanese government captures a class of ninth-grade students and forces them to kill each other under the revolutionary “Battle Royale” act.” – IMDB

My thoughts: Okay, so I watched this movie after reading The Hunger Games series and then hearing everyone on all of the Internet say “OMG, it’s just Battle Royale with a girl as the protagonist and it’s not even as good so blah blah blah,” and so I figured “I should probably watch that…” So I did!

And as it turns out, the Internet is right.

Moving past it’s similarities to THG (and believe me, there are a lot. So many in fact, I’m kind of surprised Suzanne Collins didn’t get sued or something), more importantly we should talk about Battle Royale itself. It’s based on a book, which I haven’t read so I can’t really do a whole “is the book better than the movie?” comparison.

The worst part of the movie is that it’s centered around a bunch of young teenagers and the problems are that:

1. NONE of those actors look even close to 13/14. My suspension of disbelief only goes so far and I just couldn’t see those fully developed, decidedly not pre-pubescent were young teens.
2. As everyone died off, inevitably a boy or girl would say “I always liked you/I always thought you were cute/I really wish we’d had sex before you got a hatchet to the back of the head,” which ruined it for me a bit. I guess it showed that, I don’t know, just because they were young didn’t mean they didn’t have feelings or regrets? Something like that.

For being a movie with a disturbingly dark premise, they certainly left plenty of room for humor – one of my favorites being the Battle Royale training video. It’s so over the top and hilarious with a giggling Japanese girl (at left). At one point, she says “We have randomly selected weapons to put in your kits, so you might get lucky, and you might not.” Then she picks up an axe and says, “This one is SUPER lucky!” Case in point, one of the character receives a pot lid as his weapon.

It’s delightfully glib and violent and for me, that’s a top notch combination. So, with the exception of all the silly teenage “I really have a crush on you, please don’t cut off my head with that machete” bits, I quite enjoyed it. I recommend it to anyone who has read The Hunger Games as an interesting little comparison. People have already made a whole bunch of them!

Stars: 4/5

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