Movie Review: Battle Royale

I have never heard of this movie until all the fun with the Hunger Games came out. I’ll get to the Hunger Games one day, I’m sure.

So, even though I have seen a few Japanese movies, I am never thrilled to see subtitles, but I can deal with them, I will say I don’t go searching them out, but If I really want to see a movie, I’ll put up with them.

We kick the movie off with some narration of what the basic plot is, with a roaring surf behind them. The economy has collapsed, and the yutes of Japan have gone nuts, 800K juvies out doing damage to the world, so the adults put them in their place with with choosing to put one class on an island to fight it out amoungst  themselves.

This aint the Hunger Games, this is the PURGE.

Soon a chopper is landing, and a crowd of reporters seeing a young girl come out and she is grinning and holding a doll, both blood smeared. The grin on this girl is a little worrysome, and I do wonder if she grows up to have a role in Kill Bill.

Cut over to a class picture, and we show a bit on a few faces that are going to mean something, I’m sure. One of the kids gets some special time, as we see that he has hung himself. Flip over to a teaker who is sitting in an empty classroom, where someone has written on the board “Taking the day off because we want too, class B” and as the teacher is walking down the hallway, he is cut by a kid with a pair of scissors. Ok. Flip over to a school bus, and they start passing military checkpoints. Ok. A couple of the girls are hitting on the kid from earlier, Nanahara. Going through a tunnel, everyone passes out. Nanahara wakes up, and a woman in a gas mask knocks him back out again.
Everyone comes too in a classroom, where the teacher from before shows a video with a girl that is waaaaay too happy here. I mean this video on it’s own is just outstanding and might be my favorite part in the movie.
The video is a HUGE exposition dump as we get the story.

Long Story Short (too Late)
The Gov’t passed the BR act, meaning one school is chosen at random to all go to an island, where they will be collared, so they cannot go into random “danger zones” and given a map, food, water and a random weapon, ranging from guns, to knives, to a pot lid and even a paper fan. This does give some kids an advantage. For some reason some kids still take their books and such with them as they run out into the night. In three days unless there is one survivor, they all die.

So Away we go!

So how is Battle Royale?

To be honest with you, there is a LOT of great stuff here, it has some fun parts, of course, not funny ha-ha but still. There is some gravity to the show, as it is a bit overly serious at times, but then again we are dealing with 9th graders killing each other. I do feel that the additions of the two new students was a bad idea, but I’ll get to that in the spoilers, but we even get some teenage stuff, the guy going after his crush and a girl going after the class bitch bitch. The less I know about the two naked dudes and the girl walking away, the better.
To be honest, I kind of have problems with it. The teacher is AMAZING, even in Japanese,  and some of the performances are just great, I mean there should be some solid Japanese Horror Queens out of this movie, starting with the creepy chick in the beginning, and to be honest, the ladies outact the men here by a good margin.
The story itself is pretty basic, and just a reason to get them to the island, until the ending, when it’s like oh yeah, this is important, and then there is a whole bunch of stuff thrown out there that to be honest, I missed the first time, and had to back up the second time. Does that hurt the movie? Not really. I guess we do have to get a whole “Fight The Powers That Be” ending, but to be honest, I didn’t want it here. I felt we had enough of a setup, that we didn’t need it. I guess we did have to get the happy ending, mild spoiler there, but still.

I’m going 9, there is a lot of rewatchability here, there is a lot to digest here, and I’d love to find the redo with the extra footage, and if anyone BUT Spike Lee tried to do a US version, I’d be all over it. I do know they wanted to, but the Hunger Games kind of killed all the enthusiasm for it. I do think this movie is well worth the watch, as long as you can put the fact that these are frikken NINTH graders out of your mind. Let’s get to the spoilers so I can rant about the ending before I knock this down to an 8.

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