B-Movie Corner: ‘Battle Royale’

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First Posted: 3/15/2015

Japanese cinema is no stranger to violence and developing cult films for the world at large. Many Japanese films are categorized as extreme due to the highly graphic violence involved in the film. “Battle Royale” is a film that falls short of being tagged as extreme but is certainly not shy of showing on-screen violence.

The film was originally released in 2000 and was a mainstream domestic blockbuster. It was released in 22 countries worldwide. Once the film was released on home video however, the true cult following developed in a large ground swell of word of mouth.

“Battle Royale” follows Japanese middle school students in class 3-B. The class takes a field trip, but soon they are gassed, fitted with electronic collars, and sent to a briefing room on a remote island to be told the full details of what is happening to them.

Upon arriving at the island they see their former teacher Kitano who explains to them that the class has been chosen to participate in the annual Battle Royale as a result of the BR Act, which was passed after 800,000 students walked out of school. A cheerful orientation video instructs the class they have three days to kill each other until only one remains.

The explosive collars will kill any uncooperative students or those within daily “danger zones” that are moving randomly. The students must continually move and fight or they will be chosen to be killed regardless.

The students are in shock and unsure if this is real until Kitano kills two students for misbehaving during the video in quick violent outbursts. The students are now further informed on what is expected of them and each student is provided a bag of food and water, map of the island, compass, and a weapon ranging in efficiency from firearms to a paper fan.

If this plot sounds vaguely familiar to “The Hunger Games” rest assured that this came first. If anything, “The Hunger Games” borrowed heavily from this film but certainly toned down the violence a great deal.

Students are dispatched in a variety of manners and none of them are glossed over. Instead, the scenes are shown in all the gory glory. This is definitely not a film for those who cannot handle on-screen violence.

However, the strong acting and character development makes this a very engrossing film with a story that reaches far beyond the ridiculous. Being set in the future is something that many filmmakers have prophesized about for a number of years.

If you are a fan of “The Hunger Games” but want to see something a bit more real or if you are a fan of Japanese cinema and have not seen “Battle Royale” it is highly recommended viewing.