Battle Royale

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.

Score: 8.5/10

Note: this makes for a bitchin’ drinking game: 1 second every time someone dies in the game, and every time it is recapped in the 3-hourly reports.

  1. “There’s a whole load of Japanese schoolgirl skirt and leg for any dirty old men of that persuasion…”

    ^ lol.

    I liked the movie, too, in general. I agree with you about the cheesiness of the script which didn’t quite work with the dark happenings around the characters. But I had a bigger problem with it: the fucking romance needed to stop. I felt as though every time the two leads were next to each other, they talked about the same thing, surviving the game together. I don’t think it’s as strong as I remember it to be.


    • Paragraph Film Reviews said:

      Totally, worse still, they weren’t even officially a couple – just another empathy device for the lead. I’d have cut her down and stole the cookies at the start of the competition! The scenes with the dad hanging around in the apartment too… really bugged me.


  2. I keep hearing this compared to “The Hunger Games.” Should be worth a watch.


    • Paragraph Film Reviews said:

      Most definitely. It’ll no doubt be Rated-R in the ‘states, and gets stuck in to the game a lot faster than the Hunger Games. Awesome concept!


      • I like the game aspect! There should have been more in “Hunger Games.” Oh well.


  3. Shaft said:

    Saw this only once, years ago, and some parts of the film are foggy. But overall I agree with your review. A classic. Haven’t seen the sequels, though.


    • Paragraph Film Reviews said:

      The sequel is pretty bad if I remember correctly – took the political undertones and pushed them to the very top of the agenda. Cool twist was that the exploding necklaces were paired though so if the other person went too far away or died, you died to.


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