Battle Royale (2000)
User ReviewsAdd a Review
Also the only time someone reloads is the 'bad' guy and it's after you've wondered for the 5th time if he'll run out of bullets. Is he really the only one to get extra ammo? There's only one other uzi we see and I get they'd maybe give him a lot of ammo but if they're going to give a bunch of kids pistols to kill each other, I'm sure they'd give them ammo. So many people but that dude (except the one time because plot convenience) ran out of ammo. I get it'd get boring but if you're going to have them reload at all give some other people a chance.
Not really a spoiler but I guess somewhat. At the end in the streets there are flags with the tele-tubbies on them. Just something amusing.
So last night I settled on this. With a 7.7 rating, it can't be bad, right? Wrong.
It's boring, it's stupid, the effects are a joke, and the little action there was gives way to a toe-curling melodramatic yawn-fest after an hour.
The story's absolutely pathetic. Why would they go out of their way to dump these kids on an island? Why is their old school teacher in charge of the army (what do they do for other classes in other years, do they find their old school teachers too?) Someone's yelling from a mountain top half a mile away, and everyone can hear them? That same person on the mountain top can spot two people hiding in a forest based on a single gunshot? I don't know who voted this so high, but I'm guessing they are fanboys of everything produced in Japan. There's no rational explanation this piece of crud deserves anything over a four out of ten.
Brutal (as you'd expect) but also witty, humane and strangely poignant in places. This film is brilliantly acted, directed with style and is beautiful to look. Murder and deception has never looked so good. In fact the 'killing for sport' theme reminded me of one of my favourite films, Turkey Shoot.
And thats all I'm going to say. To say anything more would ruin the film completely. See it.
The original novel of 'Battle Royale' is amongst my favourite books, so I obviously had high expectations for the movie. Like anyone who's read a book before watching its adaptation, I was disappointed. The movie is entirely different to its source material - 90% of scenes were left out, and some additional plot points were added. The deep look into every character's life and personality - which was the reason why the book was so good - was almost entirely absent in the movie. Where in the book you could sympathise and become emotionally attached to all characters (including the villains), the movie was so rushed I could barely keep track of what was happening. The novel explored deep themes about humanity, violence and fear. This was pretty much absent in the film. It's fair to say this is like any adaptation ever, so I tried to review the movie as if I'd never read it before, thus the 8/10 star rating. The movie might not be too great, but the book is a masterpiece.
- Anime-style gun battles: people get shot dozens of times and suffer no ill effects, except the one bullet delivered after a "cool" or "gut-punching" line of dialogue.
- Due to the sheer amount of crushes there is hyper-inflation in the value of romance in this movie. In other words, if everyone is love with everyone else then there is actually zero meaningful romance in the movie.
- Interesting characters die quickly while boring characters survive. Interesting characters never fight against interesting characters, its always Boring vs Interesting. Imagine if Sickle Girl had to confront the heroes, or if Bleach Haired Guy had any characterization other than deadly guy who teleports around the island. You never think to yourself, "Oh no, two characters I'm rooting for are fighting each other!"
- Just pick two or three relationships with backstories! There's no point in squeezing an entire backstory between two characters in 90 seconds before they kill each other! Forget half of these stories! Take Track Suit Girl, build up the story -- ending with her stabbing her attempted rapist in the dick -- and make it bigger!
- The acting is awful. Every time a character does their death soliloquy and pantomimes dying it was laughable, especially Beat Takeshi! Who is supposed to be good!
- The use of classical music is the definition of pretentious: it shoots for deep meaning and falls flat on its stupid face. If its supposed to be a humorous juxtaposition then - no, this movie totally lacks humour and is entirely self-serious.
- There is no meaning in the movie. A statement on older generations abusing and destroying the futures of their children, this movie is not. This movie is about screaming and arterial spray. (In the book, Japan is a dystopian country ruled by a totalitarian government. The winner of the Battle Royale receives an income and an apartment for life. These two details give the work enough meaning to push it past the threshold from "exploitation film" to "John Carpenter-level commentary")
- As an exploitation film there are no memorable heroes or villains, just a couple of cool deaths, no stand out special FX, a lame-duck twist (Beat Takeshi was stabbed in the butt and that's when he decided to become... a lame dude...). IIRC the book's climatic battle is with characters lobbing grenades at each other while in a car chase. Probably outside this movie's budget :(
Many viewers claim that Hunger Games is a kind of copycat of Battle Royal but let us get this straight:
The movie originates on the novel Battle Royale by Japanese writer Koushun Takami - written in 1996. But I can remember two stories (!) of almighty Stephen King - The Long Walk from 1979 and The Running Man from 1982 (dystopian societies, ppl fighting for their lives in a game). Or what about movies like The Blood of Heroes (1989), Rollerball (1979) or Deathsport (1978) and and and. You want teens!? What about Solarbabies from 1986!? It is easy to see that the material of Takami isn't that original at all. Also, if I remember my history lessons right, there is something like gladiators in the times of the Roman Empire... If someone claims that Hunger Games is a copy-cat of Battle Royal every vampire movie after Nosferatu from 1922 is a copy-cat too;)
Battle Royal is imo in no way (a) original as many claim and (b) all in all a poor to mediocre executed movie. A movie like Fight Club or Clockwork Orange is rightfully considered as a masterpiece or cult - original stories, excellent acting, excellent directing, excellent camera- work and setting and and and, but Battle Royal!? Objective and subjective it got none of that. Battle Royal a masterpiece!? Nah. If you wanna watch some original sci-fi I recommend you to watch Zardoz (Sean Connery) from 1974. Last but not least, Hunger Games is in every way the better movie (or let's say version) of the theme "dystopian society and gladiators". Alone the performance of Jennifer Lawrence beats everything in Battle Royal - the acting of most actors in Battle Royal is just terrible bad. And to the gore level, well if I wanna see gory stuff there are lots of flicks which are way more gory as Battle Royal is. I guess Battle Royal is imo mainly overpraised by juvenile Manga-fans and Cosplayers and fanboys of Asian pop-culture-Kitsch (that kind of folks who think these Asian cos-or-whatever-they-are-called bands really play rock'n'roll - and no, they don't).
Last note: in a certain kind of way the movie is "clever" constructed as many men in Japan have certain fantasies about schoolgirls in short skirts - many Mangas are prove of this "notion" ;)
I don't dislike this movie because I had to read subtitles. I'm not that childish. I just don't understand the acclaim this movie has received. Perhaps three solid performances and definitely a solid premise but, aside from that, I see little else to praise in this movie. Non of the characters are particularly interesting or likable and the plot is nonsensical and stupid.
Expanding on that point, don't tell me I dislike this movie because I didn't understand the plot. It may have some Japanese cultural relevance that I am unaware of but until I find that out, I'm pretty damn sure I got the plot. And it is a stupid plot at that. I conceded the fact that the premise is interesting but the ridiculous plot and relationships between that characters they built around that is awful.
The entire film hinges on the romance between Shuya(Fujiwara)and Noriko(Maeda) but I just didn't buy their romance. The simple fact I didn't like or empathise with either character did not help this movie either. Both Fujiwara and Maeda gave mediocre performances at best and where outshone both in performance and character by their co-stars.
Taro Yamamoto gives one of the only good performances as Kawada, an ally to the two leads. Masanobu Ando gives the other decent performance as the antagonist in the arena. Arguments could be made for Takeshi Kitano also giving a solid performance but you see so little from him and get so little of his character that, at least for me, the jury is still out on him. These THREE people are the only thing that even remotely saves this movie for me.
You may argue that I am being way too harsh on the movie considering I like both the premise and up to three of the performances were good and I would usually be inclined to agree. That said, when a movie fails to deliver on what it set out to do, I cannot give it pity points. This movie is supposed to be a sci-fi, but I would say nothing in it is particularly amazing or spectacular. It is also a thriller but I was never on the edge of my seat. It's not supposed to be an action movie but even that aspect of it was terrible. Attempts at comedy backfired. I cannot in good conscience recommend this movie. Mild entertainment at certain points saves it from complete disaster. And violence is not my concern. I was fine with it. It is everything else this movie offers up.
I don't recommend you see this movie. I'll rate it a very disappointing(for me) 2 Efficient Dog Collars out of 10!
Simply an interesting concept and watch. A Japanese classic from the early 2000's.
However as mentioned before this is not a masterpiece and there are some reasons behind it. For example the acting is pretty shoddy and just weird. The story seems to actually skip the realities of such a situation. I was honestly very surprised that rape was barely a part of story. The fact that there are that many teenagers without any boundaries gives any of these teens with their crazy hormones the complete power and reason to do commit rape. While I don't say all of them would commit such a heinous act but there would be an inevitable incident. Something that I enjoyed was all the weird moments when a waltz was played throughout the movie. It was just completely weird and yet good enough to make me laugh. The greatest achievement of telling the story of youngsters growing up in a harsh Asian society and the struggle of aging nation is what saves this movie gracefully. Not a masterpiece but indeed worth a watch.
It's a roller coaster ride and quite moving in many respects. Yes it's violent and it's not for everyone, but you wonder how we would react if such a scheme really was in place.
The production values are impressive, and the story is fast-paced. All credit to the talented director and of course the producers: Kenta Fukasaku, Kinji Fukasaku, Kimio Kataoka, Chie Kobayashi, Toshio Nabeshima, and Masumi Okada.
The movie's "weak points" (although they don't have to be) is it's script with over-the-top drama, funny lines (especially the "last words lines" some of the characters have) and stereotypical characters (Silent Bad Guy With The Hair; Main Male Character With A Tragic Past But A Strong Sense Of Justice) and the sublime over-acting. This is not my first Japanese movie (and not the first Japanese action movie either), and this acting would definitely be considered bad, but equally hilarious and even sometimes engaging and entertaining. The only actor I can think of that is not too bad is Takeshi Kitano, in his role as the teacher.
The characters are not very strong, there are some weird plot holes it seems, there is A LOT of screaming of dialogue. It does portray briefly Japan's obsession with "cute" things (like the Info Video Girl), which I think in this context really shows how creepy and weird that can be. It also can bring some of the thoughts to Japan's problem with the increasing senior population and problems with keeping its students in school.
I don't think this movie should be taken too seriously, but just enjoyed for the fun of movie watching. I don't know if the director took it seriously, but this is definitely worth a watch and you should be able to laugh about it.
Take drinking games every time somebody starts screaming dialogue, don't hit their targets (although it should've been VERY easy), somebody says some weird/sentimental last words before dying, The Bad Guy is being very typical Bad Guy, a character reveals something about themselves without anyone asking or when there's a very dramatic close-up of the actor's face and their expression of terror/sentimentality/incredible sadness.
Many people throw comparisons around when talking about Battle Royale. The Hunger Games, Lord of the Flies, and The Running Man just to name a few. But to compare it to any of these is just not a fair comparison.
Battle Royale is more than a film about 42 kids slaughtering one another under an oppressive government's hand or the slow turning of friends against one another. It is a story about two young people falling in love and desperately trying to survive despite overwhelming odds. In a world where adults have learned that they cannot trust young people, they create the Battle Royale Act in order to maintain control. The BR Act entails that a class of school age children are randomly selected to fight to the death until only one remains or else everyone dies. It would be the bad luck of the protagonists Shuya Nanahara and Noriko Nakagawa to be in the class selected for this year's Battle Royale. As their classmates systematically kill one another, Shuya and Noriko try to find a peaceful resolution without having to kill any of their friends. But, at every turn, their efforts turn out to be in vain as treachery and deceit work their way through their classmates hearts. Shuya and Noriko turn out being somewhat successful and survive the game with another contestant who volunteered for this years game, Shogo Kawada.
Battle Royale is also a technical victory. From camera work, to lighting, to acting, to sfx. The most impressive part of the entire film, to me, is the spot on soundtrack, recorded by the wonderful Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra. The only issues I have with any technical aspects are that, at points, the acting can seem overdone and cheesy and that the sfx, at points, are very obviously cg'd in.
I still gave the film a 10 star rating because I have a dog in this fight and I consider Battle Royale to be a classic. Especially since this is the film that introduced me to the weird, magical world of J-horror. And, just in case you were wondering, the Springsteen quote at the beginning is not random. The quote comes from the book where is it repeated periodically.
Overall, I highly recommend this film. Especially if you are interested in J-horror or just looking to get into the genre.
This movie frustrated the hell out of me. The premise is workable, the cinematography is well done and the acting is very good, but the script ranges from confusing to downright nonsense.
Here come the spoilers: 1) When the kids wake up, they have no idea what's happening to them, as if they've never heard of this "Battle Royale" thing. Yet the movie opens with a shot of a news reporter announcing the winner to what is presumably a national audience. And it obviously isn't the first time this event has happened, because they include TWO previous winners in the group. It makes no sense that the group of students are ignorant of what's about to happen.
2) What is with the group of girls that think they're going to ride it out together in the old lighthouse (I think it was a lighthouse). They were warned that everyone would be killed at the end of 72 hours if there was more than one of them left alive. During "orientation", they saw one of their classmates stabbed in the head and killed, they didn't take that seriously? 3) There is a scene where one of the girls goes out jogging on the trails (unarmed) and a boy rides his bike next to her (also unarmed), teasing and making veiled sexual comments. This after both of them have already witnessed at least one murder, and possibly committing one or more themselves. Just another day at the park, nobody's going to try to kill me while I'm working out... la la la 4) The premise itself is just silly. The government is forcing 14 year olds to murder each other because the younger generation doesn't show enough respect for its elders. Really? That's the best idea you can come up with? I could go on, but I think you get the idea.
Set in approximate modern times, Japanese teenagers are becoming more and more uncooperative, are skipping classes when they want, are disrespectful in the classroom, and we even see one of the kids slash a teacher in the hallway.
The adults are fed up with this and an act is passed, essentially an entire class is chosen randomly (they don't explain how) and taken to a remote place, given an assortment of weapons, and are told they have 3 days to kill the others, only one will survive. They wear special tracking bracelets around their necks and will explode if tampered with. Or, if they fail to meet the 3-day deadline all will explode, killing all students who remain alive.
The same teacher who had been cut in the hallway by the student is administering this event, supported by a number of military men with weapons. When explaining the process a couple of students get disrespectful and are killed right there, terrifying the others.
The whole thing is very bloody, and I suppose it works only as a type of dark comedy parody, because I'm sure teachers often fantasize about killing a few of their most disruptive students.
Is this a good movie? No, not in my opinion. Maybe it plays better to Japanese audiences. Is "Hunger Games" a "rip-off" of this movie? No, not by a long shot. I can see that it may have inspired some of the competition in "H.G." but the overall themes are so different that they really have only one thing in common - putting together a group of teenagers and telling them only one is allowed to survive.
But I am glad I took the time to see it, a very strange movie.
Unlike the Hunger Games who primarily focuses on one member we see the stories of multiple players unfold, as well as their backstories. The plot is still focused on Shuya Nanahara more than not, as we see him trying to protect his friend from harm and find a way off the island without dying. This is extra tough as each player has a bomb strapped to his or her neck to make sure they don't do anything smart. You really do start to feel for the characters as the movie progresses as it does feel like junior high students were just put on an island to die (character development was really good).
The story paces nicely as there is no feel of a rush to get to the conclusion and we understand the motivations of most of the 42 survivors. As well as their relationships with fellow classmates. Action sequences are pretty intense at times, which makes the N-15 rating all that more necessary. If you are a fan of bloody action films or just someone who saw Hunger Games and walked away feeling that they focused too much on the inter workings and the spectacle of the games then give this a try.
With three exceptions, the characters are effeminate boys and brittle, fluffy females who are utterly unbelievable as juvenile offenders. These silly little poseurs wouldn't stand out in any suburban high school in the US and would be eaten alive in any inner-city school. The exceptions are a clichéd "thrill killer" type named Kiriyama, an angsty stereotype named Kawada, and Mitsuko who as written is a somewhat believable female psychopath. Frankly, she seems to have come from a completely different movie.
So much for the themes and the characters, as for the plot, Battle Royale is the kind of bad action movie that features stupid people doing stupid things over and over and being (sometimes) saved from the consequences by ridiculous plot twists. Characters are shot repeatedly and then immediately get up and start moving around again or, in the case of femme boytoy, Shuya Nanahara, survive after getting a sucking chest wound bandaged by a pretty girl. It's all impossible to take seriously on any level.