DIRECTED BY: Kinji Fukasaku
PLOT: Intergenerational relations in Japan have broken down to such an extent that
youngsters are rebelling by committing acts of violence and mass truancy. The situation has deteriorated so badly that the government reacts by passing the “Battle Royale Act”: each year a randomly selected high school class is sent to an isolated, uninhabited island, fitted with remotely detonated explosive collars, given meager supplies and told to fight to the death. One must emerge a victor or three days later everyone will die.
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Although I consider Battle Royale to be a “must see” film, it really can’t go on the list. It’s just not weird. It’s funny, violent, overblown, disturbing, both operatic and banal, but not weird.
COMMENTS: My first review of the film was a little flippant and then, quite randomly, I overheard a man say it was the “sickest” film he had ever seen. He appeared to be quite sincere and I was driven to go back and watch it again, and again, to try and see what he had seen, what had disturbed him so much.
I don’t think that there’s anything in Battle Royale which will upset “366-ers.” Yes, it is a film filled with images of youngsters killing each other and it would not be unnatural to find that disturbing. The violence is so over the top, however, that it’s difficult not to be amused at times. Who would have thought that a saucepan lid could prove to be such an effective weapon in the right hands? It’s not even a very good saucepan lid.
The controversy surrounding Battle Royale on its release centered on the graphic violence and the age of the participants, but there is no connection between the violence in the film and real life violence involving teenagers. The high school class that we follow are being forced against their will to participate in a life or death game, and they have been forced to do so by adults: adults who have stooped so far as to rig the game. Despite having their backs against the wall, some of teenagers behave quite nobly; pleading for peace, setting up Continue reading CAPSULE: BATTLE ROYALE [BATORU ROWAIARU] (2000)