Co-Writer/Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Running time: 114 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18
UK Release date: 14th September 2001
Watched on Sky+ Sunday 15th May 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I had never heard of this film until I got more seriously into films a few years ago. It’s a film that has gained some notoriety since it was released and, having finally seen it, I can see why. Not only is it very violent, but the violence is being performed on, and by, teenagers. I liked it a lot, it has some great ideas, if controversial, and it’s a really well made film.
In the near future society in Japan has broken down. Teenagers are out of control and to combat this the government brings in the controversial ‘Battle Royale’ act. A class is selected and they must go to a remote island where they are forced to kill each other off until there is only one left. They have three days to do this or they will all be killed. So they don’t just run and hide, they have been fitted with a special collar that not only gives the people running the project their location, but can be used to kill anyone in a changing ‘danger zone’. With all this explained, they are released one by one with a pack that contains a random weapon, this might be a gun if they’re lucky, or maybe a fan or a pair of binoculars if they are not. To spice things up, a couple of ‘ringers’ are also participating, these are particularly dangerous individuals. As the ‘game’ unfolds, some go it alone while others band together and some even just give up and commit suicide. But there must be a winner and as the numbers diminish it gets more desperate for the survivors.
The film mainly concentrates on two individuals, Shuya Nanahara and Noriko Nakagawa, who don’t want to get involved in any killing, but can they keep to it? They are later joined by Shôgo Kawada who has his own reasons for being there. The proceedings are overseen by their teacher, Kitano, who is not a man to be trifled with in this situation.
Although there is quite a lot of violence, I was surprised at how all of the deaths were handled. It’s certainly different to the way a Hollywood studio would have done it. very good performances from all of the major players; Tatsuya Fujiwara as Shuya Nanahara, Aki Maeda as Noriko Nakagawa, Tarô Yamamoto as Shôgo Kawada and Takeshi Kitano as Kitano.
I loved the use of western classical music throughout this film, it fitted the images really well and gave it a bit of a quality that I really enjoyed. As each death occurs graphics on the screen tell the audience who is gone and how many are left, another touch that I really liked. It is a film I would definitely see again and one, for those that like this sort of thing, I can highly recommend.
My Score: 8.2/10
(RT = Rotten Tomatoes)
IMDb Page: http://uk.imdb.com/title/tt0266308/
RT Page: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/1217514-battle_royale/
Official Site (Japan): http://www.br3d.jp/