Watched Mar 25, 2012
Adam Moody’s review:
Battle Royale had been extremely hyped for me. It is a violent, campy action flick with a clever presentation. Based on Koushun Takami's novel of the same name and directed by Kinki Fukasaku. Powered by one of the most passionate cult followings you will find and a number of critics have even hailed it as one of the best films of last decade. I find that to be a very ridiculous statement, but there is plenty to like about it.
Set in a dystopian version of modern day Japan where children boycott school and shun authority. In response to that the government create a deadly game where a group of 40 selected students are sent to a remote island where they are forced to battle to the death. That delightfully twisted and highly controversial premise is utilized adequately. There are hints of social commentary focusing on the conflicting relationship between youth and authority, but there is no complexity. It is all obvious and seems to skim over key aspects.
You don't watch it to be challenged. Like all these films with art-house feels that present themselves as being politically changed, people have field days pulling out nonexistent meanings and symbolism. The real reason to watch it is obvious: nothing is more fun that seeing a bunch of teenaged kids unleashed and killing each other in creative ways. It isn't a torture porn, it isn't even supposed to be taken seriously. What makes it all work is the level of silliness and comedy present. These kids are forced to kill, yet they still find time to gossip and the alliances are formed like their school cliques.
Always entertaining, my attention was never lost. Touches of young romance and teenaged angst are fitting distractions. Kinji Fukasaku has a blast with the freedom he is given. He never lets up, when the violence comes it is relentlessly paced and impeccably orchestrated. Considering all the praise I heard from its devoted fans, I must say that I am a little disappointed. Nonetheless, I can't complain about something so purely entertaining.