Director: Kinji Fukasaku
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.
This is a pretty amazing movie. I wasn’t sure what to think about it going in to it, but it turned out be a great movie. Basically the plot surrounds future Japan and the governments decision to pass a law called “Battle Royale” out of fear of the younger generation. This law allows the Government to chose a random Grade 9 class and pit them against each other in a – well you guess it “Battle Royale”. Each student must kill each other until one one is left standing.
It reminds me a little of the Hunger Games, minus the drama, and add more blood/gore scenes – like true Japanese horror style. The movie starts with showing the winner of the previous battle, covered in blood – and smiling. We then move on to the following year, and the next class chosen. We follow a few main characters around, with flashbacks to gain more understanding of each character.
Nobody knows they have been chosen for this years Battle Royale until they are gassed on their way to their year end school trip and woken up on an island with a previous teacher from Grade 7. It is there that they learn of their predicament. Each student has a collar around their neck – checking their blood pressure and heartbeat – while also having the ability to explode and kill them if they disobey, are in a ‘danger zone’ or if more than one person is left standing at the end of the time limit – 3 days.
The scene where the rules are explained to them is quite intense and odd for me to watch. Understandably many of the students are traumatized just by the video explanations, their past teacher even throws an knife at one of the girl’s heads when she doesn’t stay quiet. What I don’t get is if this has been going on for a while, why none of them knew about this arrangement or it’s rules. Many of them act like this is absurd and insane, yet in the end they have no way to fight back against the government.
Before each student is set to leave, they are given a bag of supplies that also includes a weapon. Weapons range from assault rifles and other guns, to axes, poison, a metal pot cover and binoculars. It’s the luck of the draw. Also they are given three days rations of food and water, a map and compass. Their teacher remains at headquarters with the rest of the government staff and announces the death during stages of the day, as well as ‘danger zones’, which are to be avoided unless you want your collar to explode on you.
From there, well we see the darker side of human nature exposed as the teenagers are forced to kill each other, or be killed. There are a few who take a stand and refuse to play. One girl even threw the bag back at her teacher before running out onto the island. She is seen later with her boyfriend at the cliffs where they both jump and commit suicide. There are a number of students who choose this route, some so they don’t have to play the game, others they feel guilty for the death of others by their hands.
To make things even more risky, the class is joined by two new students. One we learn was a survivor from three years ago – a winner – forced back to liven things up. The second volunteered. Yeah, someone volunteered to kill other students – really messed up!
What I thought was pretty impressive and smart was three computer geeks who learn more about their collars, about how they are also listening in on their conversations. With his hacking program, they were able to hack into the government’s system and shut down the collars. Unfortunately, before they could ‘blow up parliament’ they are killed by the ‘volunteer’ student.
The amount of violence is high in this movie, as well as the bloody scenes, but it’s what i come to expect out of these movies and wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. The storyline held up in my view and you end up routing for a few characters to stay alive. The ending is quite surprising and also leaves you hanging on what will happen in the future ‘Battle Royale’ games.
When I looked up the movie on the internet I discovered there is a sequel as well that it is based on a novel. I would love to try and read the book if i can find an english translation of it!
So to finish off, if you did like the Hunger Games, but want something with more blood and violence this movie is for you!