Friday, July 10, 2009

Dystopia Challenge Review #9: Battle Royale (Film Review)

This movie is a load of fun! I started out by reading the book but was dizzy by the fourth page: all forty or so students are introduced, by name and defining characteristics. I don't cope well with a lot of names and things straight of the bat. Now that I've got everyone straight in my head I might give it another go.

For those of you who haven't seen it, Battle Royale is a lot like The Hunger Games. Like, a lot. The government's gone a bit mad over young people and forces them into an arena, gives them weapons and orders them to fight to the death. Last one standing wins, and gets to keep their life.

There's heaps of blood and guts and swishing noises when someone swipes a blade through the air. Plenty of tears and promises of being BFFs, about three seconds before the bullets start flying. Old rivalries and broken hearts come to the fore. (And aren't there times when you wish it could be you, the class bitch, a stun-gun and a hand axe?) Plus a touching romance. And did I mention blood? Heaps of blood. Gushing, spraying fountains of it--in that humorous "It's just a flesh wound!" Monty Python sort of way. Even though it has a R18+ rating, squeamish me didn't find much to get me peering between my fingers.

There's a double-cross towards the end. I think. The screen went black and there were gunshots, and Keiko may or may not exist. I'm not entirely sure. Which is quite frustrating because the movie was so easy to follow right up until then and now I'm left with a big "huh?" Oh, and the prologue? The girl with the braces? She never appears again. Not really sure what that was about.

So apart from the beginning and the end (which some people think are integral parts of a dramatic structure), Battle Royale is one film you should be asking your local DVD rental shop for, if only to do a compare/contrast with The Hunger Games. And to wonder what the movie adaptation is going to be like. And how they're going to swing a rating low enough for actual teenagers to go see it.


  1. The girl in the beginning is the hardcore chick. She's assumed to be the winner, because the couple and the dude who went through it already manage to turn off their collars and make it look like they are dead. Did you not see the scene on the boat and so on?

  2. What threw me off was the girl had braces, and I didn't see any of the students with braces. Must have missed them.

  3. This is one of my favorite Japanese films, and I'm stoked you loved it! YES, it's absolutely brilliant in a cheesy, bizarre, gratuitously violent way. I think, though, having watched this movie so many times took away from my reading of The Hunger Games (just because they are SO similar, and clearly BR the book and movie - and countless manga too - came first) - but I'm sure Catching Fire will take off on its own and gain some separateness from the BR premise.

    It's a shame it's so hard to get for rental or to purchase - I had to order my copy via the UK!

    Great review.

    OH and for clarification: the girl at the beginning with the braces was the PRIOR year winner of BR. That was just the prologue, showing that you know, one hundred-plus children enter, one child leaves.

    Keiko did exist, and the she was the motivation for the older dude (Kawada) to help Shuya and Norkio. He ended up unintentionally killing Keiko (which she engineered so that he could live and win); a wrong he righted with pretending to kill Shuya and Noriko (as downtown guy says, they found a way to turn off their collars and appear dead on the grid). When Kawada says he lied about Keiko, it's all part of the ploy to trick the sensors and game runners that he is betraying Shuya and Noriko, killing them.

    Of course, he doesn't ;) And Shuya and Noriko escape BR together.


    Hope that helps :)

  4. That makes sense! Thanks for the clarification. I hadn't heard of Battle Royale before reading The Hunger Games so was able to believe for a few short weeks that Collins had made the concept up herself. I think that's the trick with some YA--taking a story that adults would instantly recognise, but making it for teenagers, who wouldn't.

  5. Most adults, that is! Clearly not me in this case!

  6. I saw this movie on Christmas day - can you believe it?! Great movie, but Hunger Games had so much more depth.