D.J. Haza presents the next entry in his series of films to watch before you die…
Battle Royale, 2000.
Directed by Kinji Fukasaku.
Starring Kenta Fukasaku and Takeshi Kitano.
Battle Royale is a Japanese horror film based on the novel of the same name written by Koushun Takami. It follows a class of children who are transported to a remote island and ordered to play a brutal and disturbing game to the death. The children are set free on the island and each given a random weapon in order to try and survive the island, but also brutally murder each other. Only the last surviving child is allowed to leave the island.
Battle Royale is packed full of drama, suspense and blood. The children all learn that they have to be brutal, cunning and willing to do anything if they want to be free. The weak struggle and only the strongest will survive. As they roam the remote island searching for shelter and a way to escape without being killed they are tracked by their electronic collars. As the Japanese military watch on they can detonate the collars should the children disobey the rules. If they fail to comply the collars detonate. If they try and leave the island they detonate. If they find themselves in one of the varying death zones they detonate.
The film is set in a futuristic world not too far away where the Japanese government has failed miserably and the country is on its knees. As children boycott school and show signs of rising up against their elders the government passes the Millennium Educational Reform Act. This act legalises the Battle Royale and allows the Japanese government to turn children on each other in these brutal games to the death.
Battle Royale is a controversial film that has been very well received by most critics, but slammed by politicians as being crude and tasteless. Nonetheless it is a jaw-dropping piece of ultra violent cinema that has a certain poignancy with many societies and people, perhaps even in the UK too in the wake of the recent riots. As the government tries to control the unruly youth of Japan by turning them on each other and making them destroy each other the film is horrifying in it’s subtext.
Battle Royale is a film that you must see before you die because of its violence, its gore and its brutality which have all been done so well that I believe it to be a tasteful way of showing the darker side of humanity and the will to survive.