Battle Royale: the Japanese government randomly select a school class and dump them on an island with an assortment of weapons – the last kid standing wins their freedom! The the most powerful aspects of this film are the simple concept and the use of school kids (which everyone can relate to) forcing the ‘could you do it?’ question on viewers. Despite having no monsters, this is darker and bloodier than most horror films. The level of gore is unbelievable: blood sprays at every cut or gunshot, heads roll, internals bleed… rough stuff seeing characters vomit blood or getting riddled with bullets, worse still considering they’re around 15 years old. Even scarier, the whole concept is played so straight, with some pretty black humour, that you can easily believe in this dystopian near-future. There’s a whole load of Japanese schoolgirl skirt and leg for any dirty old men of that persuasion; and the teacher (Kitano) also has a very unsettling obsession with one pupil. The recurring emphasis on father’s suicide feels off, and more generally, the flashbacks / dream sequence all feel out-of-place among the bloodshed / fast-paced action. It’s hard to tell through the translation, but the script’s a little weak, with loads of cheesy, rhetorical, open-ended questions, leading to some over-cooking in the acting department. Despite these minor issues Battle Royale is a classic in every sense of the word, and has a longevity that you don’t see often – even watching it for the 5th time, it’s still disturbing. Action-packed, all-killer, world cinema classic.