|Nightmarish and Fascinating||2 out of 2 users found this review helpful.|
Insanely violent, disturbing, and more than a little depressing, Battle Royale is an allegorical examination of the abuse children suffer at the hands of adults, although the message might be a bit too blood-soaked to be immediately apparent.
The setup of Battle Royale is diabolically simple: In an alternate version of modern day Japan, 42 middle-schoolers are kidnapped by the government, taken to an remote island, and forced to fight to the death. What unfolds is possibly the most unsettling 2 hours I have ever witnessed, and to be perfectly honest I struggle to find a way to properly describe this film. I won’t go into the story too much, because beyond the initial setup, saying anything more would just be giving away what happens, and the shock factor of watching these horrific events unfold is, to be honest, part of what makes the story so powerful. The movie focuses on 3 students – Shuya Nanahara (Tatsuya Fujiwara), Noriko Nakagawa (Aki Maeda) and Shogo Kawada (Taro Yamamoto), although we see a lot of the other students as well. Although the Program is a government operation, this particular game is run by a vengeful former teacher of the students, played by Takeshi Kitano, AKA ‘Beat’ Takeshi. Overall, the acting is decent, and Takeshi’s constant deadpan is a brilliant counterpoint to the insanity swirling around him. Some of the actors are clearly older than 15, but they look close enough that it’s not a big deal. By Hollywood standards (Grease, Remember the Titans, etc.) the age disparity probably isn’t even worth mentioning. They’re also the most attractive bunch of students I’ve ever seen, but hey, it’s a movie. That it’s almost exclusively set on a beautiful tropical island makes for some great visuals, and the abandoned buildings scattered across the island give the film a very unique, palpable aesthetic, especially in tandem with the soundtrack's brilliant use of classical music.
There was a great deal of controversy over Battle Royale in Japan, and for good reason: it could easily be dismissed as exploitative and sadistic. I should point out, though, that what happens isn’t anything even approaching the torture porn aesthetic of movies like Saw or Hostel. Most of what occurs is just plain old shooting and stabbing. What gives it such a strong impact is that it is happening to 15 year olds at the hands of other 15 year olds. But the violence – and I cannot stress this enough –is integral to properly telling the story, which, really, cannot be said of most films these days. What happens is horrible, and it’s supposed to be horrible, and the best way to make the audience appreciate that this is not a ‘fun’ movie is to fully show what happens. The irony here is that the book (also titled Battle Royale) upon which this movie is based is pointlessly exploitative and idiotic, and I honestly can’t think of a better example of a movie surpassing the source material. There’s very little that could be done to justify a story like this, but somehow this movie manages to pull it off. And that leads me to the allegorical nature of the movie.
The reason for the Battle Royale Program’s existence is only briefly touched on, but it is made apparent that the only real cause is that adults are taking out all their fears, inadequacies and frustrations on those darn troublesome kids. And the mistrust the kids have of each other – the reason they don’t just all gang up and fight the adults – stems from the fear and isolation teenagers frequently feel in school. The director, Kinji Fukasaku, has made statements about how his own experiences as a 15-year old during WWII influenced the movie, which I would suggest looking into after you see it, as they provide an interesting perspective. But this is just supposed to be a movie review, so I won’t launch into a philosophical lecture. However, this is definitely a movie that I think requires a lot of thought afterwards to really understand what’s going on. I’ll admit, it took me a long time to decide whether I even really liked Battle Royale, but I think I can safely say that this is a must see, and once you do see it, it’s going to stick with you for a long time.
|news||The Hunger Games and Battle Royale||matthew_floratis|
|news||In Theaters: May 25th||staceywi|
|forum||Battle Royale Coming to North American Blu-ray This March||Alex|
|blog||Moving Pictures: it helps to listen to others||Llewelyn|
|review||For TearsInRain (4 out of 5)||GiveUpNed|
|blog||Scared of your family? If not, you will thanks to Battle Royale||GiveUpNed|
|review||Massively fun (4 out of 5)||PlyrYaKA|
|review||Awesome if violent (4 out of 5)||Ninja_Dozer|