Battle Royale

Battle Royale

Rating: 9/10
Year: 2000
Genre: Action
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Cast: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Takeshi Kitano, Aki Maeda, Taro Yamamoto

The background of this film is set in an era of social and moral collapse. Japan is suffering from economic recession. The government has passed a law called "Battle Royale" in which a group of students is to be taken to an isolated island where they have to kill each other. Only one survivor is allowed in this "game".

This film reflects the contemporary situation in Japan precisely. Japan is suffering from economic recession and it is a period of social and moral collapse.. Although what the film depicts is little exaggerated and makes it more like a twisted reality, it is still interesting to see the parallels there. What the students are forced to do is like what the people in Japan are facing now. It is a hard time to survive under this harsh situation. That's why so many people choose to commit suicide just as the students do in the film. While for some other people (for instance, Mitsuko, one of the girls in the film) who do not want to give up, they strive hard to survive by fair mean or foul. There are also outcasts and other kinds of people around (the failure of the student hacker's plan might be a metaphor of the fall of the IT and internet industry). These students resemble a mini version of the society to a certain extent.

The casting of this film is brilliant. Takeshi Kitano brings in a persuasive performance as the ambivalent teacher. On the one hand, he kills students mercilessly; on the other hand, he cares about Noriko (Aki Maeda) and brings her an umbrella. It is a complex character that is worth to be studied in details. Most of the students characters are also entertaining, especially the Yojimbo-like Taro Yamamoto and the insane killer Masanobu Ando. I am sure Director Kinji Fukasaku is certain that, in order to let the viewers to receive the controversial content of this film properly, he must present it in an entertaining way. In this regard, he has done a successful job.

Battle Royale is a very radical film both in terms of the thematic and visual elements. Although its critique on the society is harsh, it does ring an alarm for the Japanese and provides a very decisive and accurate account of the society of contemporary Japan.

VCD (HK version) - It is a full screen transfer, with medium image and sound qualities. The English subtitles are decent with very few grammatical errors. But somehow the subtitles appear so big on the screen, blocking at least 1/5 of the full screen image. I am aware that a Special version DVD (without subtitles) is out in Japan right now. If you still haven't bought this film yet, I would recommend waiting for the overseas release of this Special verison .

Cool guy(s) - Takeshi Kitano

Reviewed by: Kantorates