Directed by Kinji Fukasaku
Produced by Kimio Kataoka, Chie Kobayashi, Kenta Fukasaku & Hisao Nabeshima
Written by Kenta Fukasaku
Director of Photograpy Katsumi Yanagijima
Based on a novel by Koshun Takami
Music by Masamichi Amano
Cast: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Taro Yamamoto, Masanobu Ando, Kou Shibasaki, Chiaki Kuriyama & Takeshi Kitano
2000/114 mins/Color/5.1 DD & DTS
1.85:1/Japanese/Japan/NTSC Region 3
Review from the Universe Laser DVD
As violence from the youth against the adults is rapidly growing in Japan, the government establish a new law to punish the youth and to show them that they have to respect their elders. This new law is the BR Act, also known as BATTLE ROYALE. This law (program) randomly picks a class of 9th graders and send them on an island where only one will survive. Armed with a random weapons (which can be anything from a machine gun, to a stunner gun or a pot lid!) and a bag of food, the forthy two students have three days to kill each others by any means. One last important thing not to forget is the exploding necklace they are wearing! If they are in a danger zone (which changes every hour or so) their necklace will explode or if there is more than one student left after the three days it will go off on all the "survivors". Simple rules... now it's time for BATTLE ROYALE.
While on a bus ride, an entire class of 9th grader is gased, when they wake up they find themselves in a classroom in a remote island. An old teacher of them (superbly played by Takeshi Kitano) is there along with some army wearing machine gun soldiers. Kitano starts explaning them what is happening and what is going to happen. At first the students think that this is just a joke but soon realise how true it all is after one student goes down with a switchblade in her head, another in gunned down and a third one gets to be the guinea pig of how the necklace works and ends up headless! Before they leave the room each student gets a bag of foods and a weapon.
As the BATTLE ROYALE begins some alliances are made, the popular kids are trying to stay together but the tension is getting higher as the hours passes by. The outcasts have more ease to eliminate their classmates, sometimes unloading a full clip of ammunition into another! Some will try to beat and pirate the system via their labtop computers while others will make love declaration to try to survive.
Throughout the film we get to see what's happening to pretty much everyone but the film focuses primarily on a young couple, Noriko and Nanahara, and later a guy named Kawada who vows to help them get off the island and stay alive. The more menacing of them all are without a doubt the beautiful but angry girl with a sickle and the outcast kid with the weird hairdo and machine gun, beware of them! I won't spoil the ending for you 'cause it would really ruined the film, you'll have to watch it for yourself and trust me you won't regret it.
The 71 years old director, Kinji Fukasaku delivers one shocking and violent film but there is much more about the film then the fact that it is vile and ruthless. The film is a social message for the Japanese of today. At the end of the film you'll understand that the kids may not be as bad as the adults are. Maybe the kids became what they are and that the law was passed is mainly the fault of the adults. In a way the adults failed to prepare them for life. I ain't Japanese and i've never been there (unfortunately) but Fukasaku's vision of this near future might not be too far away and that is even scarier then the film itself!
The film is presented in a 1.85:1 letterboxed ratio. The transfer is really nice and we can fully enjoy the stunning photography by Katsumi Yanagijima, the colors are rich and vibrants and thankfully there is no signs of artifacts or compression. The DTS and 5.1 DD tracks are crisp and clear. The effective and beautiful score from Masamichi Amano sure benefits from it. The film is in Japanese with English and Chinese subtitles available.
Most of the menus have no animations or music but some does. There is only 8 chapters stops, not much for a film almost 2 hours long. As for the extras, there's a profile on Kitano Takeshi, a great trailer for BATTLE ROYALE along with one for TARS OF THE UNUSUAL. There is no booklet or inlay card and it comes in a keep case.
BATTLE ROYALE was one of the biggest box office hit in Japan in 2000. A special edition was even released theatricaly and a sequel to be called BATTLE ROYALE II is planned for later this year. Unfortunately, Kinji Fukasaku passed away before completing his film, his son Kenta Fukasaku is currently finishing it. Be sure to take note that this is a Region 3 NTSC DVD. With THE EVIL DEAD, BATTLE ROYALE has to be one of the film with the most different DVD editions. UK's Tartan released BATTLE ROYALE as an All Region NTSC DVD. The film was also released numerous time in Hong Kong, Korea and Japan. The special edition of the film is also available on DVD, it features an alternate ending and 8 more minutes.
This Film Features:
Review by Kim Dubuisson. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©
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