Battle Royale (2000) Poster


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You'll get it if you know modern Japan
tkuhns14 May 2004
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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Pmust-328 December 2000
Battle Royale is based on the shockwave novel by Koushun Takami, which is a bestseller in Japan, and which has become very controversial in a very short time (and it is really easy to understand why). The plot is relatively simple (a class of junior high school students are forced to kill each other on a desert island, the last survivor wins and can go back home), but it is this simplicity that makes its strength. No need for a very long prologue before we enter the main act. Each of the 42 pupils involved in this "game" are not volunteers (no one would be..,), and of course they are forced to kill their best friends /girlfriends in order to survive this horror. The personalities and characteristics of each of the participants are of course very contrasted and even if there are some cliches, well, the worst has been avoided. There are even quite "realistic" (even if it is very difficult to judge what can be realistic with such a plot) moments. The transcription of the inner thoughts of the characters, which is one of the strengths of the book, is averagely well retranscripted. Takeshi Kitano plays a "teacher" (whose name is ...Kitano), leading the operation of surveilliance of this "game". It is very difficult to give an objective comment on this movie. Violent. Ultra-Violent. And bloody. This is for sure. The book has to be read for a more complete description of the hesitations and fears, but the movie restranscripts very well the book is the sense that it is all "absurd". There is no real meaning to this violence. The students know this, but it can not be avoided. It is quite sad that the movie dropped an essential background element of the book (the story in the book takes place in an imaginery Japan which would have not lost WWII, and the movie takes place in a slightly modified modern Japan), but I guess that making this happen in the "real-world" shows that there is no need to go to an imaginary world to see to what extreme behaviors humans are capable of.

Highly disturbing. Rated R-15 (forbidden to under 15), very, very violent, but nonetheless interesting.
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Quite brilliant
gunzar4 January 2008
There have been contrasting cries of "greatest film ever made" and "pointless gore fest" made about BR, and neither are accurate in my opinion. What it is, is a commentary about "perceived" (real or otherwise) problems among Japanese teens in the late 90's.

In one review, someone basically likened it to a movie involving young Japanese girls running around in school uniforms acting violent....DUH, thats the whole point. A lot of peoples only knowledge of Japan is Manga and Hentai.

If people bothered to watch the news once in awhile, they may know that the establishment in Japan were VERY worried about young people getting out of control, and BR portrays all this perfectly.

Its NOT ultra violent, although the fact that they are supposed to be teens makes it disturbing. Battle Royale is no worse than Lord of the flies, but for some reason that has been deified as a work of art, and BR is classed as trash. I'd say its more about cultural snobbery than actual appreciation of a truly magnificent film.
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A film that the US, would never, could never make...
Stupid-715 September 2001
This film is film that I believed had to be made, and it was only a matter of time before it was. Yet it was a film that the US mainstream could never have conceived making.

Firstly to get it out of the way I will say that I loved this movie, although at no point did I feel comfortable while watching it. It had the power and emotional content, that while not necessarily apparent in the dialogue was visible on screen at all times.

I am truly glad that this film has come out of mainstream Japanese cinema. It would have only been made in the US by independent film-makers who would have basked in the glory of its controversy and felt oh-so-smug that they had created it, while shoving a moral in your face. While I actually have no problem with US Indie film I do feel that a Western background would have comprised on visceral content, and upped the content of cheap moral points.

For those who say the violence was "cartoon-style" and laughable must have been watching a different film. Whilst this film is heavy in black humour I can clearly say that the deaths are shocking in the extreme, and there is no relenting from the beginning to the end. Only occasionally does the camera pan away from the final deed. The only deaths that have a dark humour content to them, are those involving Kitano (Beat Takeshi) and the "lone" vigilante (those who have seen the film will know what I am talking about). Other sections, such as the "Training Video" are equally comedic, and absurd. Yet other deaths are shocking in the extreme, and show how the slightest suspicion can have disastrous consequences for groups that only have trust to keep them together, a truly shocking scene in the Lighthouse reinforces this.

The fact that this film employs Children as the main protagonists of the story is the key to the whole impact of the film. We have all seen films like The Running Man where adults fight adults for survival and it seems that much less shocking, albeit that film was handled in a completely different manner. Children have the innocence that makes the brutality of this film that much more shocking, adults in the same situation would have had the reaction from audiences of cheering at the screen as the hero dispatches yet another victim. This could never and would never have been the case with this film.

To another commentator who felt that this film sticks with you less than Scream, I simply fail to find this to be anywhere close to the truth. The deaths in Scream although bloody are nothing but pastiche of those films that Scream is mimicking, ultimately throwaway deaths that up in brutality in order to out-do the last one that have one or two psychotic perpetrators, who eventually get their comeuppance. In this film their are no victims and besides one exception there are no villains amongst the children. They simply HAVE to play the game or die.

Well I encourage all those who feel they can stomach it to go and see this film or find it available somewhere (as I believe it has been banned in the US). It is not truly a film denouncing the evils of Reality TV or showing us the future of that trend of Broadcasting, that is merely a plot device to place the children in this situation. The nature of the film lies in its deconstruction of Friendships, Trust and our views on Innocence. Go and see it not as a spectator of this BR spectacle but as one of the participants and remember what was important to you when you were at school, and whether any of those rivalries, hatreds and friendships would have been enough for you to decide who deserves to die and who deserves to live.
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It's been two years since I saw this flick. What do I think?
Manji15 January 2003
Kinji Fukasaku made a film called Battle Royale back in 2000. He's made plenty of films in the past. I've seen very few of them, apart from Battle Royale but I'm always searching for more.

Battle Royale is a film that has affected many, many people. There are rabid fans of Battle Royale and there are even more people that hate it. Let me tell you why. Battle Royale is a film that exercises its right to explore an idea. Many films have great ideas but most are poorly realized. Battle Royale is simply an awesome movie about one of the most hypothetically traumatic things that could ever happen to teenagers. For those that don't know, the film focuses on what happens when a group of high school students are sent to an abandoned island to kill each other. What brings such a bizarre idea to fruition includes civil unrest, teenage anxiety, and a nation literally terrorized by their youth. It's set in Japan and though it is just a movie it still hit pretty close to reality due to current problems with Japanese youth. In fact, the film was poorly received by the government who feared that the release of the film would incite riots and other such acts of mayhem by the same youth which it focused on. The problem is the same the world around. Young people are much more volatile than they ever were say 20-30 years ago and Battle Royale captures the essence of the horror that today's youth would face going into such a circumstance. Friends kill other friends and bullies all to survive. At the same time they get to live out those videogames that they loved to play at home.

[SIDE NOTE: Counter-Strike, a Half-Life (popular videogame) mod for example, easily prepares young people for the reality of weapons. How many bullets are in a clip of an MP5? What does an assault rifle sound like? Questions like these are easily answered by the videogames of today. Sure, these weapons are also on the streets and in some parts of the world they are even in the hands of children as young as five years-old but the videogame set up creates a comfortable experience with such weapons. It's not that videogames necessarily make people want to get guns rather it gives familiarity to guns. I should mention that I love to play Counter-Strike myself and will continue to play it in the future. I don't hate the game, I'm just pointing out that it does present a fairly realistic portrayal of weapons.]

The problem is that there can be only one survivor of this island massacre, this only adds extra pressure to the already unprepared children who have to fight for their lives. What is truly shocking is that the actors and actresses who have been selected to portray these teens are around the same ages of their characters. They aren't the aging 20-30 somethings that just happen to look young; they are literally teenagers. This flick has some serious bite! It's such a great comment on how we are living in the 21st century in a time when frequently the fear for a country comes from within rather than outside forces.

Certainly, terrorism is at the forefront of the average North American's mind due to the World Trade Center attacks and CNN's endless coverage of the horrors of said event have easily made the problem an international event. But before that the biggest headline grabbers focused on young people, filled with `rage', unleashing their anger on their helpless peers using an array of weapons (mainly guns). School shootings shocked the world when children started killing their peers.

Battle Royale is not meant to trivialize school shootings and youth violence. Rather, it's an examination of the lengths which a government will go in order to discipline the youth. It's such a ludicrous idea. But the characters stay true to form as they profess long held crushes with their dying breath all the way down to naively trusting others who they've always admired as the popular kids. It's sick. Strange. Beautiful. Familiar. Different. And completely engaging. Most people are against the film because they feel that the plot is simply silly or because the dialogue is too hammy or some such nonsense. At the same time, those naysayers will praise films like Braveheart for its honest portrayal of Scotland's only historical hero. I loved Braveheart. I thought it was great too but it's bogus, for the most part. Certain battles and events really did happen. But William Wallace was no man to look up to. He raped and killed women and small children but none of that made it into the film because it was not that kind of "feel good" thing that would sell Wallace as a hero. Battle Royale, since it draws on fictitious characters and plot is far more interesting because it really makes you think about your own life. Could you kill your best friend from high school if the two of you are stuck on an island of death? To this day I refuse to answer that question. It sickens me to think of such a thing and so I felt disturbed by what those 42 kids had to do in Battle Royale. What's even worse is that they were picked by lottery to end up on the island. In the Japan that exists in Battle Royale, each year a random high school class is picked for the event. We are led to believe that all youth in Japan are bad seeds in this film but that really doesn't seem to apply to the class which the film follows. For all intents and purposes, they were innocent. The dialogue between characters is poignant, real, and totally innocent. You can literally see how limited their vocabulary and understanding of the world around them is. Furthermore, as I mentioned earlier, some of the characters even profess love for their classmates without even knowing what love is all about. High school is a weird time for anybody. It's an awkward time that is all about experience and misunderstandings. So many people AFTER high school really learn the truth about who liked them and what people really thought of them. During high school there's always some social wall that stops any REAL open communication between two people. Being on the island forces unchecked emotions and feelings to flow out of the characters because death is on the horizon. Can you really label the dialogue as lousy in those circumstances?

Obviously, there are intelligent and well-organized people in the world. Some exist in high school but for the most part teenagers are brash, foolish, and irresponsibly reckless because they've yet to learn from experience. They rarely have any experience. Teenagers put on an island to kill themselves will certainly not learn anything new and if they do it won't matter considering that they'll soon be dead.

Naturally, some go insane and mutter those math equations that their teachers promised them would be valuable in the real world. Others feel the need to fulfill their sexual desires, who wants to die as a virgin, right? Still others try to make the best of the situation by spending their last few hours alive as civilized as possible. But the purpose of the game affects all of these teenagers. They have to hurry. If the battle isn't finished in 3 days they all must die which is easy for the people in charge who have low-jacked each teenager with collars that explode. Not enough to take the head clean off, by default, but rather just enough of an explosion to open up the jugular. They bleed out until they die.their hopes and dreams for the future go with them. This is a grisly film that doesn't specifically cater to gore hounds. Certainly there are some really disturbing death scenes and moments but nothing TOO over the top. The idea is shocking enough, there's no need to be excessive. At first this fact upset me. I wanted this film to be a bloody parade of carnage because I reasoned that it's just a movie. Just some form of entertainment that existed to please me. But the whole idea is sickening and compelling enough to satisfy on more layers than just the visual.

In the end, this is not a film for just anyone off the street. There are so many sceptics and people who are unable to maturely grasp the concept of the film. These are the people that really hate it and you can't really blame them. For too long, Hollywood has been the dominant authority on filmmaking in the world. What was once a greatly expressive and thought-provoking medium has now simply become a trite and boring thing. Everything is recycled over and over. It's repackaged, re-sold, re-distributed to the point that people can hardly accept something new and radical and different. If it's not safe, generic, or commercial than the reason for a film's existence appears to be highly questionable. Battle Royale isn't going to change the world. I wish it could but the damage has already been done and now there is no place for a film that challenges socio-political norms or has subtitles. But that's alright. Films that matter are still being made even if they don't get the same amount of press or attention that the next Leonardo DiCaprio movie will get. If you enjoy Battle Royale then Kinji Fukasaku, who directed and adapted the film for the screen along with his son Kenta, will be able to rest in peace. The man died on January 12th, 2003. He was 72 years-old and all he wanted to do was make movies until he died. He got his wish.

I am a fan.

"Don't Hate Yourself... because no matter how hard you try there's always someone that does it better." - J.Symister 2002
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EL BUNCHO3 January 2002
Warning: Spoilers
It is no secret that the Japanese regularly produce some of the most all-fired messed up movies ever made, but recently a film was released over there that tested even the normally bloodthirsty native film industry. That film is BATTLE ROYALE, and having finally seen it, I can see why it caused such uproar.

The setup in a nutshell: at the dawn of the millennia, students have taken to boycotting school and have become a bunch of indolent little turds. The teachers have virtually no control over them, and the kids have even begun to assault authority figures without fear of the consequences. As a result of this anarchy, the Millennium Educational Reform Act, a.k.a. the BR act, is passed into law. The BR act renders it legal for a student class chosen by lottery to be kidnapped and taken to an island in the middle of nowhere that is policed by armed troops. Once on the island, the students are informed that they are now unwilling participants in Battle Royale, a three-day, no rules, literal fight to the death to see which student deserves to return to society. All participants are issued a kit containing a map, a flashlight, food and water, "personal" items for the girls, and a weapon. They also find that they have been fitted with collars that will explode and kill them if they don't participate. Every six hours, the students are updated on the status of dead participants and which areas of the island are "danger zones"; if they don't steer clear of the danger zones, their collars will blow their heads off. As a result, there is no hope of holing up in one place for the whole three days. By the end of three days, there can only be one survivor; if there is more than one, all that remain will die.

The story follows an unlucky class of ninth graders who are gassed into unconsciousness and kidnapped during what they think is a school trip. Upon waking, they are presented with the previously outlined situation and turned loose, one by one, onto the island. Since this is a do-or-die scenario, the kids take drastic measures; some become vicious predators while others, realizing that they are in no way cut out for this, commit suicide. Former members of the same clique betray their superficial bond and turn on their friends, formerly put-upon kids feel the power that a weapon grants them, and virtually no one can be trusted.

The three main protagonists are Shuya (a sensitive kid who ends up in a foster home after his loser father hangs himself out of utter despair), Noriko (a sweet young thing who ends up being the "princess" that Shuya vows to protect), and Kawada (the mysterious, bandana-wearing tough guy), all of whom are forced to rely on each other during the three-day hell. Since their fellow participants are armed with weapons that run the gamut from grenades to pump-action street sweeper shotguns, mercy is a thing that is best forgotten, and Shuya and Noriko clearly undergo sweeping changes by the end of the story.

Two other characters of note are Mitsuko and Kirayama. Mitsuko is the class hottie, and once the deadly seriousness of their situation is apparent, she becomes a frighteningly efficient predator, dispatching her classmates with icy precision. If you see this sickle-wielding beauty coming, RUN. Kirayama is the other side of the Mitsuko coin; an exchange student who joined the class because he knew the Battle Royale was going to take place. Merrily blasting his way through the other participants with a machine gun, Kirayama is an unbridled psychopath whose total disregard for human life is truly numbing to behold.

The rest of the remaining 42 students serve as a cross-section of every student type you've ever known, and it is fascinating to see their approaches to their situation. Techno-nerds prove to be a force to be reckoned with, groups of girls try to be peacemakers with varying degrees of success, previously unexpressed love plays out with tragic results, and the whole group struggles with the fact that when the end comes there can only be one left.

When BATTLE ROYALE hit the Japanese theaters, it kicked box office ass, but was eventually removed from theaters by concerned parents groups and defenders of public decency. Needless to say, in the post-Columbine climate this movie doesn't stand a chance in hell of landing an American distribution deal, especially in its unedited form. We're talking instant NC-17 here, kids, which is sad because the violence and gore in this film would have passed with an R rating back in the mid-to-late seventies. However, bear in mind that this no mere exploitation movie; the director wanted kids the age of its protagonists to see it to remind them that authority over them does still exist, and to stop acting like a bunch of douchebags. Imagine if an American director went public with that sentiment!

BATTLE ROYALE is easily the most thought-provoking film I've seen in a long time, and I give it my highest recommendation. It is available in the states on an all-regions subtitled DVD and is well worth searching out. It's either BATTLE ROYALE or NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE. How will you choose?
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A Haunting Film That Demands Repeated Viewing
deadlypen15 March 2006
The Place: Japan. The Time: The not-so-distant-future. Faced with the prospect of losing control over the nation's young people, a totalitarian government decides upon a ruthless demonstration of power. The Battle Royale Act annually sends a randomly-selected class of high school students to an uninhabited island where they are compelled to kill each other until only one of their number survives.

The reasoning behind this bizarre piece of legislation is perhaps the weakest part of the plot - but the Director deftly causes us to suspend disbelief by drawing us surely and touchingly into the feelings of the young cast. Unlike many western movies which trot out a body count of simplistic characters who are only there to die horribly for our entertainment, Battle Royale somehow manages to rapidly introduce us to the story's potential victims and make us care about them.

You will read reviews that describe this film as excessively violent. I believe that this is a gross overstatement. Though there are many deaths and not a little blood, the main emphasis is upon simple human values - issues such as trust, friendship, love and hate - which the competition tests to their very limits. Children who have little genuine experience of living are forced to evaluate their relationships with each other if they want to stay alive. Alliances are formed and broken; long suppressed crushes and barely buried antagonisms influence their decisions.

There are no easy or mindless deaths in Battle Royale. The violent scenes make the point that violence and death are not cool or funny. This is not Kill Bill; every character in Battle Royale has value as a living, breathing human being. It may sound corny to say that the movie is an emotional roller-coaster ride, but it truly is - having dared to give us three dimensional people who bleed when they are cut, the Director sometimes further dares to cruelly follow scenes of tragedy with jarring moments of biting, dark and sarcastic wit.

If this was an American movie, the class would be played by people in their twenties and thirties. Two or three of the students would be given a lot of screen time and the rest would be faceless cannon fodder. Five seconds after the opening titles, you would know who was going to survive. Despite its odd premise, Battle Royale seems closer to reality because its teenagers really are teenagers and it allows no comforting certainties about who lives or dies.

The true genius of Battle Royale lies in the talented playing of the entire cast. Although young, not one of them strikes a dud note and the script gives almost all of the students a chance to shine at some point. The fight scenes are not staged in the style of 'Enter The Dragon' - the kids are not weapons experts or Karate champions. We see them kill each other but we are not invited to hate them - they are, after all, children and they are scared and desperate. Even a student who takes to killing with apparent relish deserves our sympathy.

Some reviewers have criticised aspects of the dialogue as unrealistic. There are certainly times when the script seems stagy - but it is important to remember that these Japanese children are products of a national culture which often finds the expression of passionate emotions problematical. If anything, the formal phrasing and awkwardness of their most heartfelt expressions only serves to make them more meaningful.

The Special Edition ends (quite literally) with a question. You will find yourself going back to this movie time and time again to answer it. Each viewing is rewarded with details that you probably missed previously - the depth of characterisation and the layers of hidden-in-plain-sight clues continually allow you to understand the story from fresh perspectives.
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The Best Japanese film I have laid my eyes on
cwd900013 July 2005
I couldn't believe my eyes. Out of all of the horror/survival films I have ever seen, this is definitely on top of the list. I don't just mean that in terms of foreign films, I mean in terms of film. I was immersed into this crazy scenario that may seem absolutely ridiculous at first, but once you look at it, it almost turns into a not so outlandish thought.

The story is laid out like this: Japan has is going down the proverbial crapper. Unemployment is at an all time high and kids everywhere are boycotting school. The country is in chaos. The government decides to pass a law that is basically aimed at scaring the country into order. The Law is called the BR Act. Heres the crazy part. A class is selected by impartial lottery (and the grades seem totally random, as indicated by the shot of the 1st or 2nd grader in the opening sequence) and sent to an undisclosed, evacuated location. The classmates then have 3 days to kill each other off until there is only one student left. This year, it is a class of 9th graders (keep in mind that Japanese kids go to school year round. in our school years, these kids would be seniors). They are sent to an island, given weapons, and fight to survive.

The cast in this film is chock full of Japanese Stars. Kitano Takeshi (Kitano) plays the teacher that basically plays the ringleader. If you have watched spike TV, you have seen him before. This is the actor that plays as "Vic Ramono" on MXC. The rest of the cast is comprised of Japanese teen pop idols. Most notably, the gorgeous Chiaki Kuriyama (Chigusa). You probably know her too. She was Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill Vol 1. Ando Masanobu (Kiriyama) plays the most menacing villain I have ever seen.

Asside from the classic Japanese blood sprays and the amount of ammo some of the guns put out, there is great attention to detail in this film. From what I have read, since the author (Kinji Fukasaku) of the original book directed the film, everything is kept true to the book as close as possible. Every time a student dies, their names appear on the screen in the order they died. Inside the main building, there is huge system of screens that show who is dead and what not. Anyway, that screen is exact on the names as well as the 'danger zone' map. I had to look twice to realize that. That is damn good editing right there.

The characters in the film, though Japanese, can be related right back to the kids you knew in high school. I joke around with my friends all of the time saying, "Oh thats so and so" and, "oh man, that is definitely so and so." This brings so much depth into the film. It is simply amazing to watch how everything plays out. This is like Darwinism in the 21st century. I watch this film just saying, "this is what would happen." That is what the entire film is based on, the crazy idea of 'this could happen.' The whole tag line of the movie is, "could you kill your best friend?" The question is so spooky, I don't even know if I could answer it. It taps into something so deep that you really have to think about it.

This film does have some comical moments. It is just too damn funny to watch Takeshi Kitano sit on a couch and eat cookies while at the same time watching his former pupils kill each other. There is just everything in this movie. There are those love stories that you saw all too often in school as well as those feuds between certain cliques and egos.

If you want a superb psychological thriller, this is the movie. This film sent shock waves across Japan when it burst onto the scene. Intelligent writing, great acting, beautiful locations, and decent effects bring this film together. Its Lord of the Flies with High School Kids. Its just great.

10 out of 10
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It's reality, but so extreme. it's unreal.
Ol_Gaffer10 April 2003
Warning: Spoilers
In today's fast paced world Kinji Fukasaku takes the single idea of competition and twists it into a stunning metaphor for the battle for a place in society. Set in a fictional reality, the story tells of how in the early 22nd century Japan's economy collapsed and nearly 800.000 people were out of work, nearing 15% of the population. Seeing their chance, the students revolted against school and the system itself. Fearing the youth and the rise of teen violence, the adults along with the government passed the re-educational system also known as the BR act. The story takes place approximately 5 years into the future after the BR act has been put in order, a group of rowdy ninth graders are chosen to play the Battle Royale. While the outer look of BR may seem like a cheap excuse for pointless slaughter, the movie itself offers numerous views and critiques against the modern society in which we live in. From the opening scene with the stunning use of visual and audio techniques, when the winner of last years game is presented to the press, to the taunting instruction video in how to play Battle Royale properly, the movie seems to take a bite at every aspect of the Japanese and perhaps even the western culture. The instruction video that is shown to the `contestants' features a young and beautiful girl who, wearing a similar necklace as the contestants, instructs with an overly cheery fashion the rules and layout of Battle Royale, while at the same time their former teacher taunts them sadistically. When the game begins, the viewer is constantly kept aware of the situation in it, an almost deity like being informs the viewer every now and then of the contestants who have died in the brutal battle. Also a certain subconscious like text appears to the characters in times of need, this can be interpreted as the directors way of showing last thoughts that go through a dying contestants head before they finally die or the despair or motive of a contestant. The single scene in which a contestant that has been portrayed as a ruthless killer to the viewer dies, a single sentence makes the viewer re-think their opinion about her. Kinji Fukasaku was one of the most revered directors of Japanese movies. He directed over 60 movies in his lifetime of which Battle Royale was the last one, and while some have proposed that he had lost his touch over the years, BR proves otherwise. Fukasaku directs steadily without resorting into too many gimmicks of visual presentation and some scenes almost attain a film noir visuality. While certain moments are very Kubrick like, the movie is refreshingly different from the western style of movie making, and perhaps in the hands of a younger director the movie possibly couldn't have made such valuable points that it now makes. In Japan the movie received a mixed reception. While Fukasaku wished that the movie would open for mostly all ages above 15, the censors believed that the brutality would not suit children that age and placed the movie into the over 18 movies. Annoyed, Fukasaku edited a new version of his film for he wished that younger audiences would see the movie for it's message, he succeeded and the movie opened then for audiences of 15 and above. What the censors did not see was that while Fukasaku edited the movie so that many killings were explained and made more understandable and the ending was changed to a more satisfying one, Fukasaku actually added via computer technology more blood into certain battles and some critics even consider that the edited version is even more brutal than the original. Fukasaku uses surprisingly young actors unknown outside of Japan to portray the out of control 9th graders who are chosen to the game. This mainly is that he wanted to show the Japanese youth that where being over competitive can lead to. Fukasaku also uses veterans fromm Japanese movies, Takeshi `Beat' Kitano portrays with unquestionable devotion the sadistic yet melancholy spirit of Kitano, the teacher who runs the BR program. Kitano's presentation rises well over the other actors mainly because of the talent that he has attained over the years of cinema and theatre, his other movie roles include the renowned `Hana-Bi' and `Brother' which he directed himself. Also the acting talents of the young rising star Kou Shibasaki stand out of the crowd. The atmosphere in the movie can be compared even to the bleak and depressing image of George Orwell's `1984'. But while `1984' uses subtle yet depressing imagery to portray a society gone wrong, BR focuses on shocking people into realizing the wrongs of the society that occupies our everyday lives, and while BR may portray this in a surrealistic and over the top way, deep down it portrays a biting satire that really has something important to say.
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Incredible masterpiece made by Kinji Fukasaku.
HumanoidOfFlesh10 February 2004
"Battle Royale" is one of the most controversial and challenging movies ever made.The film is very gory and violent,but it's also witty,satirical and thought provoking.The concept of "Battle Royale" is pretty simple.The act of Battle Royale decrees that once a year a class of 9th graders is chosen at random,stranded on a small island,and armed with random weapons.The kids are also outfitted with strange necklaces that monitor their locations and life functions,and explode if more than one student is alive at the end of 72 hours.The kids are forced to become savage killers,and the movie provides them with interesting personalities and human reactions to the horrible situation in which they find themselves.The acting is brilliant and the violence is horrific and merciless.The film is very exciting and well-photographed.A masterpiece that needs to be seen by every fan of wonderful Japanese cinema!
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A compelling & haunting masterpiece.
stoned_bunnies10 June 2006
Based on a Japanese novel by Koushun Takami, "Battle Royale" is the story of a group of ninth graders who are transported to a small isolated island with a map, food and different arms. They are told to fight each other for three consecutive days until there remains but one student, who will then be named the 'winner'. All students are forced to wear a metal collar with a radar so that their teacher is aware when a rule is being broken.

The film is set in Japan and is in Japanese (and if you do come across a dubbed version, dispose of it immediately because it's only worth it to watch the original). It's hard to classify this film, as despite the extreme violence in it, it isn't action and despite its nightmarish feel, it isn't horror. It's just in between. There are many themes to this story; from to trust to complete selfishness (killing your best friend to save your own life) to suicide to disloyalty, and the list goes on.

The actors in Battle Royale were amazing. It is rare to find young talents like these, for instance, in Hollywood. These actors were by far the best young actors I have seen in all my life (though most of them weren't as young as their characters were). Tatsuya Fujiwara plays the main character, Shuya, a young man who is struck by tragedy when he becomes an orphan. All he has now is his best friend and the girl with whom he is madly in love. Fujiwara did a great job of transmitting the feel of despair that one would probably feel if he/she were to see his best friend die before their eyes, or to have to see classmates killing each other and then to portray that never-ending trust that two lovers share. The other actors all did a generally good job as well.

The first actor I'd like to criticize is Taro Yamamoto, who played the compassionate Shougo Kawada, who helps the protagonist and his girlfriend as the game of Battle Royale goes on. I thought that Yamamoto overplayed the character's casualty and I didn't feel as attached to him watching the movie as I did reading the comic book. The other actor I thought did a terrible job relative to the other actors was Masanobu Ando, who played the haunting character Kazuo Kiriyama, who basically seemed immune to everything. While reading the book, that guy really creeped the sh*t out of me. But in the movie, he just basically did the "undercover" thing and sort of leaped from place to place and tortured and killed people and that was it. You didn't feel anything, and in my opinion, that character was one of the most important so it was pretty disappointing. But putting those two aside, the acting WAS splendid, just as the directing of (sci-fi/Japanese gangster movie director) Kinji Fukasaku was.

I thought that the story was very haunting and compelling, and that you should read the novel or the comic book before watching the movie because just the use of your imagination and attachment to the characters while reading the books is so much more real. I really enjoyed the movie too, though, and would recommend it to anyone who has the stomach for constant shootings, hangings, blowing-up, abandoned corpses and a lot of blood squirting everywhere.

And so if it fits the shoe, rent it out. You probably won't regret it.
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10 Rules for Survival
davegering12 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Having just seen the movie Battle Royale, I have come up with a few rules for survival that 9th grade Japanese students might find useful:

1. If your class goes on a field trip requiring a bus ride, carry a gas mask. If there is room in you pack, you might also bring along some extra blood plasma, which will come in handy if you can't get off the bus using the gas mask.

2. Don't shout at your teacher. Remember that all 9th grade teachers are able to hit a moving student between the eyes at 20 paces with a throwing knife.

3. If you wind up on the Island, pick the heavy survival bag. One of the bags will have an automatic submachine gun, along with about 2000 rounds of ammunition. Figuring 1.5 ounces per round, the ammunition will weigh 187 pounds. Along with the extra clips, gun and food, the bag will weigh about 210 pounds. Just watch for the bag it takes three soldiers to carry in, and claim it as yours.

4. If you don't wind up with the submachine gun, keep whatever weapon they issue you. Even if it is nothing more than an ebony swizzle stick, there will come a point during the campaign where nothing but an ebony swizzle stick can save your life.

5. If you manage to overcome someone with a gun, pick up the gun before you leave. Duh.

6. If you get shot, play dead. It takes at least 20 direct hits to kill anyone, so if you lie still, your attacker may move on and look for new conquests. Just make sure he or she has left before you get up and start shouting about your brilliance.

7. If your weapon is nail clippers, and you see the person with the submachine gun, don't charge. Look for a deep hole.

8. Avoid even inconspicuous buildings such as lighthouses. For some reason, people seem to congregate in them just before going berserk.

9. As soon as possible, take a course in computer hacking, so you can turn off your death necklace and crash the adults' monitoring system. Don't worry, despite its having been evacuated, there will be computers with internet capability readily available on the island.

10. Take a course in maritime navigation so you will know how to pilot the yacht, unattended but fully provisioned, which you will find waiting for you on the island. When you get on the yacht, set your course to Hawaii, not back to Japan where you will be wanted for murder.
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Could you kill your best friend?
The_Void21 October 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Is the question put before 42 Japanese school children, minutes after waking up from being put to sleep and minutes before they will fight in a bloody battle to the death. Seconds after the children learn their probable fate, they are greeted with a video. An upbeat video, the sort of video you would expect at a McDonalds induction day, but this video explains the rules of the 'game'.

"No whispering" the sadistic teacher exclaims, before launching a flick knife into the forehead of one unlucky girl. As you would expect, the class react with shock, one child saying in surprise "It's really real", another child finds out first hand the use for the dog collars around their necks. After the video and the weapons are given out, there are many different reactions to the situation, as you might expect. Some of the youngsters try to become revolutionaries and stop the violence, others refuse to fight, choosing suicide over murder and some accept the situation and fight for their survival.

From here on out, the adrenaline fuelled violence is thick and fast, within the first minute of the game starting, one girl approaches the screen with an arrow through her neck, asking her former friend "What is this?" seconds after, her crossbow wielding attacker screams his way out of the bushes, only to be taken down less than a minute later by another class mate.

The build up to the Battle Royale is some of the best I've ever seen. The story is put up on the screen against a backdrop of computer animation and then it switches to a journalist reporting on a previous Battle Royale, "The winner is a girl" she exclaims, "She's smiling, she smiling" She continues as the girl in the back of the truck gives a sick smile, reminiscent of what she just went through. By this point I was wondering if the rest of the film would stand up to the intro, it sure did.

The plot, as you might expect is a little silly. The economy in Japan has gone down the pan, 15% of people are unemployed and many schoolchildren are boycotting their schools, as the message on the board reads "Not coming cos we don't feel like it". So what do Japan do to thwart this economic depression? Lower interest rates! No. Create more jobs! No. Make truancy against the law! no, no, no. This is Japan. Those crazy Japs decide to pass the new 'Battle Royale act'. An act in which a class of children, chosen by an impartial lottery is put on an island, to fight to the death. Of course, this is unrealistic but what it does do is show the authorities will to create law and order, and the younger generation's compulsion to rebel against it, which also brings in the philosophical argument of the alienation between older and younger people. It is this whole deepness to the film that a lot of people will unfortunately miss due to the large amounts of violence.

But, the main aspect of Battle Royale is the will to survive, and also the will for the survival of your loved ones, which is personified through the character of one of the 'exchange' students (cant remember his name...the good one). A person who is on the island, after surviving a previous Battle Royale, and also being forced to kill his girlfriend, for his own survival (one of the rules - only one survivor). This character talks about the way his girlfriend smiled, and thanked him after he shot her, and how he thought they could both survive.

This film has lots of characters, 43 of them in fact. So, obviously not all of them are given a chance to develop, but the ones that are develop beautifully. The film uses flash backs for various characters, which helps the audience to see why certain characters act how they do. Such as the 'exchange' student who spares the life of our hero's, Nanahara and his girlfriend. At first this may seem silly, as anyone in the game can kill you, but it comes into perspective when we learn he himself survived a Battle Royale and the two reminded him of himself and his girlfriend.

This film only really has one other film which it can be compared to, and that film would be Stanley Rubric's, A Clockwork Orange. The most notable thing that has been borrowed from that film is the ultra violence which is set to a beautiful classical soundtrack. And secondly the whole moral debate which surrounds each one, the free will argument in Clockwork Orange and the will to survive in this film.

The ending is one of only two things that I would criticise this film on, the little twist at the end was nice and it showed where the characters went next, but the way they tacked on the 'requiem' sequences, I felt was unnecessary as they could have been put in the film elsewhere, or even better, not at all. The other criticism would be the way that some of the film was over dramatic, such as the part where the teacher showed the survivors the (sick) picture he drew of the Battle Royale.

Anyway, despite its minor imperfections this film receives top marks from me. There isn't many films that will over step the mark and go a little further, but Battle Royale does just that. A masterpiece
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Kill for survival… or be killed!
lost-in-limbo30 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
40 Ninth grade students and two transfer students have 3 days on a island to wipe each other out, only one can survive and if not they shall all die.

This controversial Japanese film is a real favourite of mine, a fascinating tale of human instinct for survival… by any type of means. It has a really macabre atmosphere, where the tension and suspense never faults from the beginning to the end. While the pace of the film never lets up... well maybe there is two or three slow scenes of mushy melodrama- but that's when we learn what's going on in their heads and it doesn't disrupt the flow of sheer adrenaline that the film generates or even the sombre mood.

At times the dialogue is a bit corny and lame- but it didn't seem to bother me. The violence throughout is brutally shocking and adds in some funny black humour. You might enjoy the violence- but when you get to know the characters we then feel sorrow for the students as friendships are stretched, some going mad, some taking their own lives, some bonding & scheming and others out to kill- but nothing can stop the paranoia creeping into this game of survival.

Excellent performances from Tatsuya Fujiwara and Aki Maeda as the two young lovers Shuya and Nuriko that stick together, Masanobu Ando the quiet cold blooded killer Kiriyama and Taro Yamamoto as the helpful but mysterious transfer student Kawada and there is Takeshi Kitanoas as Beat Takeshi their year 7 ex-school teacher that looks over them on the island.

The music played throughout the film is basically classical, so it gives it a disturbing vibe- as if it's in the spirit of the game.

This film could be classed as a bitter satire on today's Japanese society, but it's not to be taken too seriously, though there is more to it then students killing each other... could you kill your best friend?

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Over-Hyped, Pretentious, And Riddled With Clichés
badnewsjones8 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Having nearly exhausted the catalog of "good" horror movies, I've turned to explore more "shock" cinema, of which Japan is currently forefront, mostly because of Takashi Miike's twisted brilliance. I've heard much about Battle Royale since its release in 2000, particularly in regard towards its shocking premise and excessive gore. I was excited to see this movie, but was sorely disappointed with the actual experience.

Obviously inspired by Richard Connell's short story "The Most Dangerous Game" and Golding's novel Lord of the Flies, Battle Royale puts a class of forty-some students on an island. Tracked with explosive collars, they must kill each other until only one survives; if they refuse, the collars explode and they all die.

This premise, however, is poorly executed. As a substitute for effective storytelling, the movie uses clichéd characters. They are cardboard cutouts easily recognizable by anyone who has ever seen/read any anime/manga. There's the "mysterious and dangerous transfer student" right beside the "crazy/psychotic student" that are sitting behind the "couple who hasn't confessed their love for each other." The real interesting characters are, of course, the ones that fall outside of these stereotypes. Those characters, however, have very little screen time—just a scene or two—before they are killed. The possible exception is Chiaki Kuriyama, who inspired Tarantino's Gogo in Kill Bill.

This brings me to the movie's fatal flaw. The movie shows every single student die. That's 42 deaths crammed into a 2 hour film, actually, more like an hour and a half considering the class isn't on the island for the first part of the movie. This creates many problems, cinematically. Half of the time, the movie basically follows the story of the four, rather uninteresting stereotypes, for most of the movie. The other half, you're introduced to a dozen other plot lines that are never fleshed-out. The main storyline is constantly interrupted by sequences of subplots. This ruins the movie's pacing—you can't help but notice that they're trying to cram too much into the movie. Since these subplots are glossed over instead of explored, they come off as basically excuses to show more students die. Now being a horror movie and shock movie fan, I don't have a problem with a lot of people dying, but when there are only 4 or 5 memorable deaths out of the 40-some, it's not a good sign.

Which brings me to another let-down of the film. I kept hearing that the movie was incredibly gory and violent. However, I'd be willing to say that the violence in this movie is on-par with US prime-time TV, say some of the CSIs or Nip/Tuck. There's a good amount of cheap looking CG as well, you know, the kind you get from crappy straight to video movies that Sci-Fi shows on Saturday nights: Killer Rats, or perhaps Python. Overall, this movie is no gorier or violent than the mid-Friday the 13th movies, it simply has a higher body count.

The movie fails to redeem itself with its ending as well. You'll be able to see the "twist" ending a mile away.

This over-the-top movie makes its social analysis hard to miss, but all of these problems simply work to undermine any kind of commentary the movie makes on contemporary Japan and its youth.

Although I've never read the novel or the manga, I'd say that this would have made a much better miniseries or TV show. That way, the clichéd, main characters' story would be somewhat marginalized, giving voice to the more unique characters and room to explore some of the more complicated social dynamics that were only glanced at in the movie.

As it stands, however—like many ambitious horror/shock films—Battle Royale has only a few notable elements buried in a mess of problems.
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Way overestimated.
binmaze16 September 2002
Gods, 7.8 rating score for this movie?

You all are deceived by the stereotypic japanese style - pretending something important here.

1. The starting concept is a bit bold, but not that new if you've read any jap ani or manga.

2. The gore scenes are not impressive but hilarious sometimes with some awful writings and actings.

3. Some important meaning hidden behind gores? No. Absolutely not. Actually, by pretending as if there were some important meaning behind, it is masking your conscience so letting the director nor watchers not feeling guilt for such meaningless killing spree.

Conclusion: This movie is just for fun. That's all. And it's a bit wicked and shameless in the meaning that it's pretending as a serious movie and hiding its true intent. Don't let this movie ridicule you.

But still, i must admit it's not a boring movie.

My Rating: 6/10
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Funny, Bizarre, Stupid
timsjoberg18 March 2004
This movie is a 15 year-old's dream. For those of us who are fully clear of puberty, its a strange film. The violence is graphic, but ridiculous. The characters are paper thin. The only good thing is at least I can keep the cliched characters straight. I was amused by the nerd, and cheered for the wicked trashy girl. And it was fun seeing Go-Go from Kill Bill, even if she died pretty early on. I really hated the two random students who were added - Mr. evil crazy hair and Mr. goody goody. Basically they did all the killing, they looked about 25 years old. The stat lines at the bottom are absolutely hilarious. The Teacher was just ridiculous. Not to mention that the government was paying 20some soldiers for 3 days just to kill a few middle schoolers. I don't feel like I wasted my time seeing this. But I wouldn't recommend it to a friend. Japanese movies are weird...
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A Great Foreign Action Film... And You Gotta Love Chiaki Kuriyama!
BigHardcoreRed28 March 2005
Battle Royale, or Batoru Rowaiaru as named in Japan, was a pretty cool Japanese action flick. Most of the special effects were pretty awesome looking, but a few could be considered a bit cheesy, such as the over splattering of blood. Believe it or not, the movie actually had it's funny moments as well. The instructional video from the overly perky girl telling the rules of the death game was a pretty funny bit. Usually the humor from Japanese movies can escape me, but I liked the humor here quite a bit, at least until the action and killing started.

The premise of the movie is that, due to escalating violence in schools, a law is passed which allows the military, or some kind of militia, to take one troubled class and turn them all loose on an island with the object of killing each other until one is standing. They have 3 days to complete their objective or they all die.

As the game begins, every 6 hours there is an update on which classmates were killed and how many were left. These updates also alert the students to danger zones, which are just places you do not want to be when the time comes. The students are all issued a survival pack and a random weapon as well. Some weapons are horrible and useless and some would be great to have in a situation of this kind.

The main characters are Shuya Nanahara (Tatsuya Fujiwara) & Noriko Nakagawa (Aki Maeda) who are close friends and refuse to kill each other. The game is also somewhat rigged with the addition of two "ringers". One of whom plays for fun, another who has another reason. Basically, one good and one evil. The good one is named Shougo Kawada (Taro Yamamoto) and helps the students who he does not find a threat. Also, Chiaki Kuriyama (Gogo Yubari from Kill Bill) puts in an amazing performance. I can see why Quentin Tarantino chose her for his movie based on this part here.

Overall, I really liked this movie - violence, action, humor and all with very few complaints or annoyances. I can recommend this movie with a clear conscience. 8.5/10
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manipulative and juvenile film
atari-38 September 2007
Easily the worst film I've seen this year, possibly the worst film of all time. A Japanese twist on American reality shows, only with lots of blood. It has a high school mentality that just drags the film down to a juvenile level. One dying teenager says to another, "you look cool", the other dying teenager replies, "you are the coolest girl in the world." And so it continues...teens admitting hidden crushes and unrequited loves, then dying violently. I found myself laughing hysterically at times that were probably intended to be profound and moving. I thought maybe the director was being satirical and the whole thing was a spoof...but I think not. The ending with Kitano was ridiculous. Finally, the multiple "requiems" at the end was just melodrama at its absolute worst. I'm sure easily manipulated teens will be crying, but savvy viewers will be laughing at the ludicrousness of it all.
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What is the point!!??
MarcoCarvalho11 October 2007
What is the point!!?? The premise of this movie is that in a not so far away future Japan will have a serious unemployment issue and 800.000 students feeling that there is no future for them start to boycott school and authorities are afraid of rebellion.

Sounds good so far? Wait for it … Teenage rebellion is a great topic, we only have to look around us to see lost and broken children, apply this to a crumbling society and there is potential havoc.

Them what do the authorities decide to do? They will randomly choose a class of 40 9th graders put them in an island somewhere and make the fight it out until one remains. Yes, I said randomly, no matter if you are a great student, perfect attendance you can still be drafted to this island … you have to wonder why these teens are so upset. Go figure.

Even if killing 40, random students out of 800.000, rewarding the most violent and traitorous of them could have some deterrent affect on the rest of the student population … first they had to know about it and every single student in that class seamed surprised to hear of this BRact (bet you next time they'll read the fine print in their registration form).

Technically the film is not so bad, very good photography, competent music and sound track, good editing to. There is a mix of actors ranging from the very good to the "thank God he died so I don't have to see his acting again).

Despite the actors effort the characters are poor, with 1 or to exceptions we know nothing about them, what makes them run … or fight … or just scream scared.

In short if you are looking for a gore/slash movie and you have nothing better to do go for it. But if you are looking to get an insightful look at society and teenagers … there is no point.
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if lord of the flies sucked, it would be this movie
fog-929 January 2006
if "lord of the flies" sucked, it would be this movie... i quite liked the premise of "battle royale", sort of an update and extension of the ideas in william golding's novel, melded with orwell's "1984", or stephen king's "the long walk/the running man"... it falls short of those tales in many ways...

i longed for more explanation of where the battle royale law came from... i expected the shots of the school that housed the children to be absolutely horrific... to me, it seemed it would take a shocking drop in quality of life for a society to revert to "battle royale"... some background or principle guiding force needed to be explored... the movie seemed to happen in a vacuum, too eager to set up the hyper violence its audience craves... and what did anyone expect the game to achieve?...

the children's responses to the game were at times interesting, but needed more exploration... some were simply laughable... the psychopathic character was obviously just supposed to look like a ultra cool "crow" type being... i wanted history, case files, background... when pushed too hard, the concepts of the back stories fell over like a cardboard set... what of expansion on the fascinating "teacher" character?...

although the bloody special effects were not convincing, i found the death parade somewhat obscene after awhile... the obsession with girls and boys in school uniforms decorated in blood and assuming twisted poses rings vaguely suspect... is it art?... or a cynical pandering to some unhealthy obsessions?... i suppose i'll have to give the director the benefit of the doubt...

this movie seems to be aimed at an immature audience, longing for non-stop violence and childish declarations of teenage emotion... it would be inconceivable to show this to the age group that the film actually deals with...

one needs to view this movie (armed as it is with some arresting shots and provocative ideas) with the question: what is it trying to say once the plot of the story has been established?... is it a profound statement on violence; or on how a society treats its children, or perhaps even how children interact... or is it a low budget shock-horror masquerading as social commentary?...

the violence is the stuff of cartoons and graphic novels, the pace is that of a video game... perhaps you could say that the intent is metaphorical, and i wrestled with the purpose and meaning of this movie with every frame my eye could digest...

however, i took away nothing i could agree with, or disagree with, or even question... there was nothing to discuss... there was no outrage (save on a paedophilic platform)... my mind was clean, untroubled by an endless trainride of child slaughter...

when ralph breaks down into tears at the end of the "lord of the flies", (a very relevant touch point for this movie) i was ready to join him... if i did not see the rich vein of ideas, i could at least see the terrible, final sadness the protagonist carried... if my mind did not engage, my heart did... battle royale has not tried to be wellspring, it is merely a mirror to a poor, shallow reflection...
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Unwatchable Nonsense
movesukkaz30 January 2005
Easily the most jaw-droppingly awful movie I've seen in ages. I wish so badly that this was released in theaters over here so it could get pummeled by the critics. Akin to most Asian "schockers" and horror, its all premise and absolutely nothing else. The first ten minutes is kind of cool and does a decent job (or rather not) of setting up what unfortunately turns into the most baffling mess of a movie I've possibly ever seen.

A bunch of annoying brats with 30 second characters (theres like 100 of em) let loose and run around babbling about nothing while acting scared. The writing is pathetic, the acting even worse, then a tally goes up every couple of minutes in the corner of the screen signifying somebody died. How brutal. How shocking. How stylish! Lets over-analyze and get philosophical about it because its an allegory or wait, a metaphor, um, its ironic, yeah thats it.

Too bad not an iota of time is given to develop anything so you could care less who's getting killed. I mean I couldn't even finish this crap. Some annoying girls started screeching about some abandoned outhouse or some crap they were trying to hide in and its like what the hell are you girls even talking about. I just had a bail on it and try again the next day. Beyond annoying. Of course this film could never be made in North America, it would be laughed out of the multiplex by everyone other than the local mallrats.

A really bad movie thats been heralded as something otherworldly but is about as smart, fun, important, and digestible as the turkey sandwich I'm now eating. HIC!
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Masterpiece? I found it simply a violent, bad movie.
germanpp6 February 2002
I am amazed by all the praising reviews I have read since I watched this movie. I respect all opinions, but all got for my money were two hours of cheesy, violent entertainment.

I personally did not find it specially sick or shocking. It was simply too bad to be unsettling.

The plot does not make any sense in the first place. I do not have a deep knowledge about Japanese culture, but a law like Battle Royale sounds totally unrealistic. Someone please explain to me the positive effects it would have. And virtually all other details are borrowed from previous films; there is nothing original about the explosive necklaces, the fight to death until only one stands alive, the random distribution of different weapons, and so on.

Most of the characters were cliché, and many of their reactions were not credible. Add to this the generally very poor performances, and you get a very laughable lot. The hero smoking his cigarette thoughtfully while drinking from his flask and the hot evil girl are especially hilarious.

The version I watched was dubbed into French, and I accept that the dialogues are probably better in the original version. But I just cannot believe that a good script can be translated into all those stupid lines. Most the talk about love, fear, trust and desperation just made me laugh.

I hope that the classical music sound track, and tricks like the screen turning to black to highlight some key lines of the characters were some kind of joke, and not a lame attempt to give some real profound atmosphere. In that shabby context, I found myself associating the classical scores with TV commercials of toilet paper, tomato sauce and the like.

I enjoy being unsettled and sickened by movies. Good films with lots of physical or mental violence tend to leave me in a very good mood one or two hours after leaving the cinema, once the emotions wear out.

As for bad violent movies, like Battle Royale, I guess I have seen enough of them (hasn't everyone?) to be able to sit through two hours of teenage slaughter without being touched at all. Maybe it is that I do not find high school uniforms and Japanese young girls all that attractive. I was going to simply forget about this movie, when I heard all the hype about it, and felt compelled to write a bad review.

On the bright side, I personally like Kitano, and he made me laugh a couple of times in this movie.
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How to make an unrealistic concept into a somewhat realistic movie...
rik_mayall_fan882521 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
*SPOILER ALERT* Japanese society is escalating out of control. The youth is boycotting school, even physically abusing the staff. The government, from an act of sheer desperation, passes the Battle Royale Act - where a select class of students is moved to a desert island, given weapons and certain survival necessities, and ordered to kill each other before three days are up or be killed.

Unrealistic maybe, but the idea alone is enough to make even the most sceptical of critics pay closer attention. And as another user commented, one of the most gripping factors is that this involves children and teenagers. Through this, this movie serves two potential roles - a bonus for those who don't necessarily like children or teens and sees the massacre of them as being an instant box office hit, or a shocking blow to the stomach when you realise that this isn't the average man vs. man movie.

The acting was superb. There were some familiar faces - one being Chiaki Kuriyama, who plays Girl #13 Chigusa but is more well-known for her role as Gogo Yubari in "Kill Bill". The lead, Shuya Nanahara, started out as almost being the typical "strong, quiet loner with a painful background" but when thrust into the Battle Royale act, quickly became a more emotionally deep and likable character.

Characters who stood out remained strongly present throughout the movie. Kuninobu, although he died fairly quickly, died in such a way and lived on in Shuya's eyes that his memory stays with you even after seeing the film. I was so pulled in by his death scene I almost felt as though I were standing amongst the students, watching his friends shove him away because of the inevitable explosion from his 'collar'. While you want to hate his friends for behaving in such a way, you realise that if they didn't, there would be no movie, because what this movie is really about is base human nature at its best (or should I say, worst?). The whole point of the Battle Royale act is that people are so scared for their own lives and the collars they wear that they are willing to kill even their best friends for a chance at survival.

The character who made the movie for me, however, was Kiriyama. Perhaps it was because he looked mysterious or his hair reminded me a bit of Drop Dead Fred, either way it went, whenever he was in a scene my eyes were glued to him. Not because he was attractive either (though he is). Masanobu Ando plays a very charismatic psychotic villain.

Through Shuya, Kinji Fukasaku has created a Frodo Baggins - someone unusually pure among all the rest despite everything. Shuya, while no saint, has the strength of mind to be repulsed by the Act, by the thought of killing his fellow classmates, and has the strength to push on in hope of finding a way to escape. Similarly, Sugimura is portrayed with a more heroic light than most - risking himself so that he can find his lady friends and in the end, even when a classmate shot him just to save herself, he doesn't mind because he wanted to save her - because he loved her.

In the grey scale, there are characters like Mimura and Utsumi, who are trying to make lemonade out of lemons. While both meet unfortunate ends, they - along with other peace-calling characters - represent a hope that balances out the sheer brute force of the other kids and their wills to survive. Even their teacher, Kitano, is in the grey scale. You want to hate him for all he is doing, but he unfolds to be a lonely, defeated man whose bitterness got the best of him.

Mitsuko and Kiriyama are the dark side of the spectrum. They caused some of the best action scenes (you should tally up Kiriyama's kills - I think he pretty much took out a large quantity of the kids on the island on his own, and his scene versus Mitsuko - while short - was climactic and satisfying).

All of these characters bring together a story that is by no means perfect, but also by no means un-enjoyable. My only criticisms of this film lie in the beginning and the end. At the beginning, it shows a previous Battle Royale winner. Be it my misunderstanding or not, I didn't realise this was a previous winner and expected some mixed-around Pulp Fiction time-line where we start at the end and then proceed through the girl's time on the island. But hers was a separate story altogether, which confused me right until the end of the film! And as for the ending - Shuya and Noriko's fate was truly...disappointing. I haven't seen Battle Royale 2 and maybe it will make up for it. But their return to populated land as criminals and having to hide after everything left me with a sour taste in my mouth.

These are the only reasons I haven't given this movie 10 stars. Some moments which others have considered absurd aren't so absurd when you think about it. For example, the annoying training video girl. Comedic, maybe, but doesn't she remind anyone else of an exaggerated caricature of the face politicians and leaders put up? She represents the government when it comes to the Battle Royale Act and to them, it is basically a game with an annoying game show host-like presenter.

I would definitely recommend this movie, though perhaps not to the faint hearted. While I have heard criticism over the action scenes, some are extreme and a bit shocking (Kuninobu, for example). 9/10
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Not as good as the Book
fabio-baldanh8 July 2012
This movie was recommended to me some time ago by a friend. So I decided to check out what it was all about and found out it's based on a Book. I always like to read/see the source material first so I bought the book over amazon and I have to say I loved it. It was a good story, with great characters and great writing that gave a lot of psychological insight on the characters.

Based on how popular and loved this movie is, I was expecting it to be a great adaptation but after watching it, I can't help but feel a bit disappointed with it all. They take the concept, some characters and some major events from the book but there are A LOT of changes and, IMO, most of them didn't do the story any favor. It all feels a bit underdeveloped and the acting wasn't very strong either. There are also several changes in the motivation of some characters and the whole concept of battle royale shifts from an oppressive government to some sort of "adult vs kids" thing which, despite the fact that I'm aware of the problems japan has with the youth, doesen't make a whole lot of sense-

Anyway, not a bad movie. But I'd recommend you read the book which in my opinion is far superior
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