Battle Royale (2000)

Ⓒ AM Associates, Fukasaku-gomi
Ⓒ AM Associates, Fukasaku-gomi

Director: Kinji Fukasaku Cast: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Taro Yamamoto, Takeshi Kitano

The original Hunger Games, Battle Royale is the story of a class of Japanese school pupils who are sent to an island to battle each other to the death with only one able to emerge victorious.

Battle Royale is basically everything I wish The Hunger Games was. Apparently, Suzanne Collins was not aware of Battle Royale when she penned her now famous trilogy, but the similarities between the two can’t be overlooked. Battle Royale is much more violent and quite sinister, which I like in a film; there isn’t loads of unnecesary characterisation but just enough for us to sympathise with the main characters. I do find The Hunger Games to be a bit Hollywood, but Battle Royale is gritty, creepy and doesn’t glamourise any of the characters. There’s also no tedious romance between Katniss/Peeta -type characters. My main gripe would be that the ending is a little odd- it’s a bit confusing regarding which characters are dead or not, and who was lying or telling the truth. But it does have a tight final scene and clears up loose ends.

I should probably mention (if it’s not clear already) that the film is in Japanese with subtitles, so the movie requires absolute concentration because if you look away you’ll have no idea what’s happening. Battle Royale would probably appeal to those who like lower-budget, no-frills, slightly sinister movies, so it’s not for everyone but certainly worth a watch for those with that sort of taste.

4 stars

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