Written by Kenta Fukasaku
Directed by Kinji Fukasaku
Battle Royale takes place in a dystopian alternate universe where, each year, a select group of young students is given weapons and pitted against one another on an island. The “winner” of the Battle Royale contest is the game’s sole survivor.
Most Americans liked the pasteurized, Bud Light version of this, called The Hunger Games. Seriously, this was based on a Japanese novel that eventually become a film. Except unlike The Hunger Games, Battle Royale is clever, exceedingly violent, and has a soul. And also blood, tons and tons of blood. The contestants all awake from the bus with a bomb collar strapped to their necks. Try to escape or let the time wind down, and BOOM, no head.
“This extra credit suuuuucks.”
A group of kids are knocked out on their school bus and arrive at school to find some things have changed. After watching a short (and hilarious) video about the Battle Royale, each student is given a bag containing food, water, supplies, and a weapon. As all 40 kids race toward victory, a video screen shows the current game stats. Sound familiar? It really is.
“Oooo, there’s an axe in here! Someone is very lucky!”
Much like The Hunger Games, some kids start dying off the second the games begin, some are killed, others leap to their own very real Romeo and Juliet death. No one is shy in this film, kids literally come from every direction with an axe or shotgun held wildly over their heads. A series of loudspeakers are set up to announce who has died, and who remains.
Some kids are all to willing to jump in headfirst, finding their penchant for killing comes much easier than others. Still, others try to help each other and band together. The film isn’t told through the eyes of one person here. rather they show us how the game is going for multiple contestants, giving us a much bigger picture of what the island is really like.
Battle Royale is a gripping film, dripping with blood and satire in equal amounts, It’s gloriously demented and effective at tackling the film like a coked-up do-or-die version of the show Survivor. Absurdly violent and quirky, a skill the Japanese can mix easily, Battle Royale is the best version of The Hunger Games that you will probably never see.
Go order another Katniss t-shirt from Amazon and think about how much of a sell out you are.