Forty-two students, three days, one deserted Island: welcome to Battle Royale. A group of ninth-grade students from a Japanese high school have been forced by legislation to compete in a Battle Royale. The students are each given a bag with a randomly selected weapon and a few rations of food and water and sent off to kill each other in a no-holds-barred (with a few minor rules) game to the death, which means that the students have three days to kill each other until one survives--or they all die. The movie focuses on a few of the students and how they cope. Some decide to play the game like the psychotic Kiriyama or the sexual Mitsuko, while others like the heroes of the movie--Shuya, Noriko, and Kawada--are trying to find a way to get off the Island without violence. However, as the numbers dwell down lower and lower on an hourly basis, is there any way for Shuya and his classmates to survive? Written by
Prissy Panda Princess
Actress Chiaki Kuriyama (Takako Chigusa) was cast as GoGo Yubari in "Kill Bill" by Quentin Tarantino, a huge fan of "Battle Royale". See more »
Bags that are given to students aren't big enough to fit some of the weapons (e.g. crossbow, sickle, etc). See more »
This year Zentsuji Middle School number 4's Class E was chosen from among 43,000 Ninth grade classes. This year's game, said to be more blistering than the last - - Oh look there! There she is! The winner's a girl! Surviving a fierce battle that raged two days, seven hours, and 43 minutes - the winner is a girl! Look, she's smiling! Smiling! The girl definitely just smiled!
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Most of the reviewers here speak from their own viewpoints, i.e. non-Japanese westerners, and they praise/knock the movie based on its violence, plot, etc. That's fine. But through their ignorance of the culture this film springs from, they are missing its subtleties.
I've been teaching in a Japanese high school for three years now. Once I saw this movie, I could instantly appreciate its skill and surprising frankness at commenting on some of the sad and strange realities of Japan's modern youth.
Japan is a culture obsessed with youth. Almost everything here is tailored to the under-30 (and much younger, actually) crowd. For example, most westerners watching Japanese TV will be surprised at how childish it seems. The things that seem childish to your average American junior-high student are very appealing for a Japanese high-school student. Girls in their 30s desperately try to be "cute" to attract guys. Adults and children alike read comics by the droves, and sometimes pops up a strange, not-too-well-hidden undercurrent of pedophilia.
This movie takes the heavily cliquish, often childish, and often incomprehensible (to me) social system of young Japanese boys and girls and gives them guns. This is the natural result. Take it from me, the characters and situations are very realistic.
This gets mixed with the growing anxiety among the older generation at the rising rudeness and rebellion of the new generation in a culture that values politeness above all else. From a frustrated and humiliated teacher; to students killing each other over seemingly unimportant squabbles; to the overly-cutesy, peppy training video that perfectly mimics nearly any show on NHK these days -- this film subtly and brilliantly comments on half-a-dozen issues that weigh heavily on the minds of Japanese people today. That's why it was such a big hit in Japan.
Maybe you just have to live here to get it. I give it 5 stars.
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