In this installment we cast the spotlight on a personal favorite, the controversial cult film “Battle Royale” by the late Kinji Fukasaku.
“Battle Royale (バトル・ロワイアル)” was released in 2000 and adapted from the eponymous novel by Koushun Takami. Every year, a class of 15-year old high school students is subject to a “game” that the fictional dystopian Japanese government has come up with to control their unruly youth – the game being having to kill each other until only one survives. Despite being so controversial to the point of being banned in certain places, “Battle Royale” proved to be a success, easily elevating itself to cult classic status.
I first saw “Battle Royale” when I was in freshman year in college upon a friend’s recommendation. It became my favorite film ever since, although that time I remember being so surprised with it that I think my face was contorted in shock almost the entire time I was watching. Anyway, I’ve been wanting to write about it here for some time now, but was a bit apprehensive because of the movie’s subject matter and nature. It’s undoubtedly one of the most violent films that one could ever come across, both in concept and treatment (teenagers killing each other in some of the most brutal ways possible, blood in almost every scene). But I think that violence here was used as a medium in delivering to its audience certain concepts such as loyalty, morality, trust, and friendship. It’s thought-provoking and isn’t just mindless gore like most movies in the same genre are.
Or maybe I’ve already seen “Battle Royale” too much (and read the book, too) so now I’m already desensitized. But if you’re open to this kind of thing, I definitely recommend that you watch it at least once. The movie's score composed and conducted by Masamichi Amano and performed by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra is excellent, too. Shot on film, “Battle Royale” is told in a linear fashion interspersed with flashbacks and stars an ensemble cast including Tatsuya Fujiwara (Shuya Nanahara), Aki Maeda (Noriko Nakagawa), Takeshi Kitano (Kitano), Taro Yamamoto (Shogo Kawada), Masanobu Ando (Kazuo Kiriyama), Kou Shibasaki (Mitsuko Suoma), Takashi Tsukamoto (Shinji Mimura), Sosuke Takaoka (Hiroki Sugimura), and Chiaki Kuriyama (Takako Chigusa).
Here’s its trailer to get you started: