Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Battle Royale (2000)
This movie quickly found its place among my favorite Japanese films. Certainly it has earned every smidgen of its reputation of being an extremely controversial film.
The plot is very simple. A class of grade school students are selected to be pitted against one another in a fight to the death. Weapons are distributed amongst them... some good, some not so good... then they are sent on their merry way to engage in mass slaughter.
There are enough students involved to cover most of the scenarios you can imagine being played out under such circumstances. You've got the ones who try to end the game peacefully, those who relish in the violence, those who form alliances, those who try to escape, those who rebel against the system itself, and those who take the "easy" way out. And it is this drama balanced with the sheer brutality of the film that makes all the difference.
There are a few moments that get a little dull, but not so much so that it really slows down the pace. I imagine that it is difficult to do a lot of character development with so many people in play and most of them being knocked off within a two-hour time span. We find out just enough about the important characters to cheer or boo them, and the rest are... well, cannon fodder.
I would not compare this to the style of J-horror that Americans have grown accustomed to, such as Ringu or Ju-on. This is more action than horror, although the plot itself is very horrifying.
Film information: Battle Royale