Reviewed Jun 26, 2012
Ronan Doyle’s review:
A hot topic of late for its numerous similarities to The Hunger Games, this cult classic presents a much darker, bloodier, more cynically real-world version of a gladiatorial clash between schoolchildren. Seeing a class of kids shipped to an island to do battle to the death, the film offers a scathingly dystopian image of Japan, imagining a fantasy world not so far removed from our own. Its brutal realism is what makes it so effective: the setup may seem far-fetched, but director Kinji Fukasaku roots it all in such emotional genuineness that it’s not difficult to envisage these circumstances as a legitimate version of the future. Aided immensely by a central trio of highly skilled young actors, not to mention the legendary Takeshi Kitano as their maniacal teacher, it thrives due to its focus not on the violence, but the little character moments nestled among the dark hillsides, quietly dreading the horrors that lie ahead.