Battle Royale (2000)
May 30, 2012
Remember when I wrote The Hunger Games's review, I mentioned a Japanese movie that has a similar story with it? Yes, it's Battle Royale. I continuously seeked for the dvd, and I've just found it yesterday, so here we go ..
Battle Royale/Batoru Rowaiaru (2000)
"42 Students, Three Days, One Survivor, No Rules."
In the near-future Japan, the nation collapsed, with 15% Unemployment, 10 million people are out of work, and 800,000 students boycotting school. The adults lost confidence and fearing the youth, passed a new law. The Millenium Educational Reform Act, also known as the BR Act. The BR Act sends one class, chosen by impartial lottery, to a deserted island, provides them with weapons and tells them to kill each other. The last one alive can go home. To make sure the rules are kept to and that students don't linger in one area too long, each student is wearing a collar, which monitors their pulse, sends information back to the HQ of their position, and if necessary, exploads killing who ever is wearing it. Each hour a new area of the island is deemed a Danger Zone, whoever is in there has their collars expload. If no one dies within a 24 hour period, all collars expload. This years Battle Royale features the class 3B from Shiroiwa Junior High, with one student who stabbed their teacher a year before. This teacher is now the head of the Battle Royale. Who will make it? Watch it by yourself.
First of all, I won't discuss about how similar BR to THG, cause if I do, I will write them 90% as similar. So, you can just watch it by yourself and let yourself decide. Based on the controversial novel written by Koshun Takami, Battle Royale was one brutal movie you couldn't get away with. It was cold and brutal, blood everywhere, fear conquered everything. It was ... cruel.
Reporter : "This year Zentsuji Middle School number 4's Class E was chosen from among 43,000 Ninth grade classes. This year's game, said to be more blistering than the last - - Oh look there! There she is! The winner's a girl! Surviving a fierce battle that raged two days, seven hours, and 43 minutes - the winner is a girl! Look, she's smiling! Smiling! The girl definitely just smiled!"
Opened with a spooky introduction, as reporters swarmed around military vehicles, one of which carried the recent winner of the game, a randomly selected 4th grader. More shocking, it was a little girl, with short black hair, all covered in blood, clutching a teddy bear, smiling creepily. Such an opening, I thought. With the short introduction of the history of BR itself, along with that vicious smile, it creeped the hell out of me. And then the story moved into a bus full of 9th graders, playing around, mocking around, shouting, giggling, laughing, all of that until they fell asleep and then the story began. They soon woke up in a room, full with armies and there, they found their former teacher on seventh grade. They were hoping for explanations, until they were filled with the undeniable survival game called Battle Royale. They were randomly selected from a lottery, for competing in a 3-days game of survival, armed with only a bag of food, first aid kit and a weapon to kill. And they soon found out that their former teacher was the game maker, and they were naturally fought back until they were presented by sort of killing scenes of their own classmates as they rebelled the teacher. Having no clue, they were forced to fight and kill each other in a desserted island, until one of them survived and crowned as a winner.
Kitano : "So today's lesson is, you kill each other off till there's only one left. Nothing's against the rules."
Humanity. That was the moral value of this movie. This movie taught us about how we could easily lose our humanity when we were faced with a survival situation, a life or dead experience, that forced us to choose between our ego or our own humanity. That was it, the dilemma, the conflict, the core ingredients beside the brutality and bloods themselves. How people easily gave up their sanity to survive. It was kill or being killed situation. And in this case, friendship matters. How they could easily kill their own bestfriends; well it was all because they, themselves, matter. And how they put lack of trust on their bestfriends, trusting nobody, as that the key to survive.
Kitano : "Here's your list of friends in the order they died."
114 minutes of duration seemed fast, especially judging on the well-organized plot and how we were falling for the slaughtering itself. It was no clue, it was all just happened. Kinji Fukasaku did great on this movie, as he focused on the 42 students, brutally killing each other. It was lonely and full of fear, both from the characters and the scenes. It was dark, deep and icy cold. I found myself drowning into the story, as it went more brutal and brutal in terms of killing's skills. It was creepy, how they distrust each other, killing each other that lead to those splattering bloods, it was enough to make you felt nausea. And the dilemma of killing or not killing, the guilt, the confession, the backstabbing, the betrayal, the love, the loyalty, it all worked out really well, creating a one cult movie that wouldn't be easily forget. Not to mention the sceneries, they were somehow cold, abandoned, creepy. It made me insecure myself, remembering that I was only watching it, not experiencing it. It gave me creep and chill, like being rubbed with icy cold furs. Thrilling.
Mitsuko : "You just have to fight for yourself; no one's going to save you. That's just life, right?"
I would say that the main characters weren't succeed to bring fears and doubts. They weren't brutal (their friends were), but weak. Well, because of that they were the main characters, the one that deserved to be the survivors (yes, plural, I spoiled it). It was all clear that they were the golds among the rusty steels. Plus, they were couple, who stupidly caring and protecting each other, like dangers weren't always among them. I would say that they did an easy winning, really (and you'll know why by the end of the story). But, one character stood out, and it was Kitano sensei, as roled by Takeshi Kitano. He was sadistic, no expression, no heart, man of steel. There were the times when he read the list of the deaths and the danger zones. He was reading it like he was reading a shopping list, like it was no biggie. Takeshi really nailed the role. He portrayed that vicious man with no heart, with those creepy flat face, wanting to prove that teenagers were nothing to him. He was the real creep of the movie.
Shougo Kawada : "There's a way out of this game. Kill yourselves together, here, now. If you can't do that, then don't trust anyone... just run."
Overall, Battle Royale was one controversial and brilliant movie that elevated the core issue of humanity and heart in such brutally ways. It was the best and will always be the best Japanese movie I've ever watched. And there's BR II also, I'll search for it!
Shuya : "No matter how far, run for all you're worth. RUN."