Battle Royale – A Movie Review For Gore Fanatics!

Battle Royale Featured Movie Review Based on a Japanese novel by Koushun Takami, “Battle Royale” is a story taking place in the near future, when Japan is close to economic collapse. With the social fabric of the country unraveling, high school students begin boycotting classes and committing acts of violence against adults. As a result of the anarchy, the government of Japan passes the Millennial Reform School Act (AKA the BR Act). Under the provisions of the BR Act, a yearly Battle Royale is held in which a randomly chosen class of junior high school students are issued weapons and forced to play a brutal game of survival in which there can be only one winner. A group of ninth graders from Class B of Zentsuji Middle School are selected to compete in this years Battle Royale, they are drugged unconscious and transported to a small isolated island by their teacher. Provided with only a map, food and weapons, they are told to fight each other for three consecutive days until there is only one student remaining, who will be declared the ‘winner’. All the students are forced to wear an explosive collar with built-in tracking so that their teacher can monitor and punish his students when rules are being broken. Armed to the teeth and scared out of their wits, the players begin the Battle Royale, approaching the game in their own unique ways.

From here on out, the adrenaline fuelled violence comes 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. 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.

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 the characters they portray). 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.

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.

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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