Battle Royale (2000)

It’s Beautiful, Even Though It’s Where Everyone Died

When I got the request for today’s movie from my friend Jordan, I decided that I needed to do it ASAP.  You see, I intend to watch and review a movie for tomorrow that I’ve heard is very similar to today’s movie, except that today’s movie is much more Japanese and would require me to read it.  I would first like to invite Jordan to obtain a step ladder and use it to promptly jump up my butt for making me read a movie, and then I would like to present you with my review for Battle Royale, written by Kenta Fukasaku and Koushun Takami, directed by Kinji Fukasaku, and starring Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Takeshi Kitano, Taro Yamamoto, Masanobu Ando, Kou Shibasaki, Chiaki Kuriyama, and Sousuke Takaoka.

A class of students is gassed on their way to a field trip.  They wake up in a room, surrounded by troops and all wearing digital watches around their necks.  They are informed by Kitano (Takeshi Kitano), their former teacher, that they have been randomly selected to participate in a new project called the Battle Royale Act.  The 40 something students will be given food , water, and one random weapon, sent out into the wilderness for 3 days, and only the last student alive can leave.  If they have not all killed each other by the end of the third day, their collars will explode and they’ll all die.  We mainly follow two students named Shuya (Tatsuya Fujiwara) and Noriko (Aki Maeda).  Other students of interest are the two dangerous exchange students – Kazuo Kiriyama (Masanobu Ando) and Mitsuko Souma (Kou Shibasaki) – and the exchange student that helps Shuya and Noriko, Shogo Kawada (Taro Yamamoto).

I don’t really see the fascination that Jordan has with this movie.  It was okay, but certainly not something that I liked well enough to overcome the fact that I had to read the whole damned thing.  The story is an interesting concept, but not one I found entirely engrossing.  It doesn’t seem like that original of an idea to put a bunch of kids on an island and have them kill each other to survive.  It’s kind of like Running Man, Death Race, or Gamer with kids instead of criminals.  I also didn’t understand their dilemma.  Sure, I recognize the fact that it would probably be difficult to kill someone, but I feel like I would be much more comfortable doing it if the alternative was my own death.  So many of the people in this movie seem immune to the entire concept of the island and start trusting and turning their back on other students on the island, only to get shot or stabbed in it.  My philosophy would instantly be to kill anyone I saw the second I saw them.  The end.  But, instead, some of them get killed for being too trusting and some of them collect in a lighthouse, determined to not kill anyone else.  But what’s the point in that?  If you all just decide not to kill anyone, then you all die anyway.  Might as well give it a fighting chance.  Especially if all you start with is a pot lid and a pair of binoculars, as the main characters did.  That’s some bullshit, right there.  There was a pretty good amount of violence in this movie, if that’s all you require out of a movie.  It’s mostly not that great thought, being pretty exaggerated like when people get their neck slit and blood fires out of it like when you put your thumb on the end of a hose.  The girls in the movie can also take an inordinate amount of damage before finally throwing in the towel, most of them taking a full clip of bullets before finally dying.

The performances in the movie were pretty good, but most of what it required was for them to be really scared, sometimes to the point of madness.  Tatsuya Fujiwara and Aki Maeda didn’t have to do a whole lot beyond being terrified.  Masanobu Ando was kind of a badass as one of the exchange students that just went around the island by himself, killing anyone in his path.  Kou Shibasaki was the other dangerous exchange student, but she did it more with backstabblery by getting someone to trust her enough to turn their back on her.  Chiaki Kuriyama was in this movie, but not for very long.  That is significant because I actually managed to recognize her from her more famous performance as Go Go Yubari in Kill Bill Volume 1.  This amazed me because my racism leads me to get confused about which characters I was looking at for the first half of the movie.  For a race already rumored to all look alike, making them all wear the same clothes too is not doing me any favors.

I’m sure Jordan would be able to wax idiotic (VERY idiotic) about why he loves this movie so, but I ended up just deciding it was thoroughly okay.  The story is fine and is an interesting assumption of how people would react to violence, but the motivation for the movie and the student’s lack of logic annoyed me.  The violence was over the top at times, but the performances in the movie were all pretty good.  You could do worse than having to watch this movie, but I just didn’t find anything that superb about it.  Battle Royale gets “This is my weapon.  I thought it was so-so” out of “Here’s your list of friends in the order they died.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.