Battle Royale is one of those classic movies that everyone should go and watch, I’ve heard about the movie for a long time and I finally watched it. Battle Royale is Japanese film that was released in 2000 adapted from the widely popular novel that was published in 1999. People may have heard about Battle Royale in relation to the Hunger Games, when the Hunger Games was promoted, Battle Royale fans claimed HG is a Battle Royale ripoff. While I watched the movie, I did find a lot of similarities, but I am going to give Susanne Collins the benefit of the doubt.
We won’t discuss that today, but I will talk to you about Battle Royale and why it is worth your time. Let’s begin.
Battle Royale is known for being more gory than the Hunger Games movies (HG fans don’t worry, I still love HG). I usually avoid gory movies because they are not to my liking, but this one is an exception. The story and the characters intrigued me and I had to watch the whole movie till the end.
Battle Royale is written by Koushun Takami and the story takes place in fictional police state version of Japan known as Republic of Greater East Asia. The BR Act was passed down as a form of military research, however it was discovered that it is really a means of terrorizing the population. If people see this horror, they will be afraid and this can prevent future rebellion. From time to time, randomly selected classes are chosen to fight in a game to the death, until only one person remains the survivor. The protagonists in the story are Shuya Nanahara, Noriko Nakagawa, Shogo Kawada and Shinji Mimura. The antagonists are Kazuo Kiriyama, Kitano and Mitsuko Souma. Let’s take a more in-depth look at each character that was mentioned here.
Shuya had a rough childhood from his mother abandoning him to his father committing suicide. When he turns 14 years old, Shuya joined an orphanage. He made many friends and one of his best friends is Yoshitoku Kuninobu. He teaches Shuya how to play the guitar. Before the BR game, Yoshitoku confessed to Shuya that he has a crush on Noriko. When Yoshitoku dies, Shuya makes a vow to protect Noriko in Yoshitoku’s memory.
Noriko is a quiet and reserved girl, who also has a crush on Shuya. As the story progresses, Noriko gets shot in the arm by one of the military soldiers. Although she is weak, her strong sense of spirit for hope encourages Shogo and Shuya.
Shogo was a participant of the games three years ago with a girl her loved, Keiko. When Shogo and Keiko remain the last two on the island, one of them has to die, otherwise the collars will explode and kill them both. That’s why Keiko decides she will be the one die, after this Shogo participates in the games again to avenge her death.
Shinji is portrayed as an intuitive and intelligent student. He is a vital character in the story because he is the one who tries to hack the government’s computer and disable their collars. He is also the first one to find out there are microphones on their collars. The collars track the location of each student, measures their pulse and if someone tries to remove it, it will explode. Along with trying to figure out a way to disable the collars, Shinji also plans to build a bomb. With the purpose of blowing up the Program’s staff location. Unfortunately, he is unsuccessful due to outside interference.
Kiriyama is ruthless when it comes to confronting anyone in the game. He doesn’t seem to have a second thought before killing. Due to events that occurred in his life as child, Kiriyama could’ve been possibly mute. He shows no emotions and is seen as a sadistic psychopath. He is a dangerous one for sure!
Kitano is a character that only appears in the movie and not in the novel. He leaves his job as a teacher and instead he becomes a Battle Royale instructor. He is more apathetic to the deaths and we see a more sympathetic side of him with Noriko. In the end, he gets shot by Shuya thinking Kitano was really going to shoot Noriko.
As a child Mitsuko was molested and she suffers from a severe emotional trauma. Due to this event, Mitsuko became cold, deadly and promiscuous. Despite all this, in the end Mitsuko’s wish has been to fit and not be a loser anymore.
Now that the main characters are introduced, it is time to talk more about the story and the events that occurred in the movie. The movie begins with Ninth Grade Class B in the bus going on a field trip, on their way they are gassed and wake up in a classroom on a remote island. Kitano appears through the door, Class B’s grade seven teacher and he informs them that they are selected for this year’s Battle Royale. Kitano plays an instructional video for the students, telling them how the game is played. In middle of the video, Kitano kills two students because they misbehave, one of them is Shuya’s best friend, Yoshitoku (Nobu). When the commotion settles down, each student is given a bag with food, water, map of the island, compass and a weapon. Sometimes the weapon will be useful, in other circumstances a player may get something useless like a paper fan (what can you possibly do with that). One by one each student is called to take their bags and begin playing the game, before Shuya heads out he tells Noriko that he will be waiting for her outside. In Nobu’s memory, Shuya vows to protect Noriko, because he feels it is responsibility to his best friend and he knows Nobu would’ve done the same. The game begins and many of the students intent to kill, while others chose not to. Eventually, Shogo, Noriko and Shuya form an alliance and try to get through the game together. Shogo has already participated in the game, so he proves to be more knowledgeable and helpful during the tough moments.
The Battle Royale movie was directed by one of the most respected movie directors in Japan, Kinji Fukasaku. Kinji Fukasaku stated in an interview that his inspiration for writing the script of the movie was from his own experience as a teenager in World War II. Fukasaku managed to bring the audience an action packed movie, with plot twists and a lot of drama. This movie will keep you on the edge of your seat from the beginning to the end! The violence and gore can be brutal, but it does look a little bit fake and some of the acting can be too melodramatic. Nevertheless, the great film editing and the dark atmosphere that was created by Fukasaku, makes up for these two minor flaws.
My final verdict for this film is to go and watch it, this dark-thriller is full of suspense and great fighting sequences. This is a powerful and memorable movie that will make you want to re-watch it many more times. I am currently reading the novel, if you wish to see a book review from me, let me know in the comments box.
I hope you enjoyed this film review, there will be more to come soon.
Thank you for reading and see you soon 🙂