Director: Kinji Fukasaku
2000, Metro Tartan
(Japanese with English subtitles)
review by Mike Philbin
Never piss off your fourth grade teacher.
That would be how the Americans would market this movie. And they would think it
funny. Sure, Battle Royale is intentionally funny but never on such a single revenge layer as
this. Battle Royale is the latest film of legendary 71 year old Japanese director Kinji
Fukasaku. Unlike the trendy monotone of an upstart western film director, Battle Royale has
layer upon layer, piled high such that the intensity of the film is a tonne pyramid inverted over
The film starts in truly eerie fashion with a news report from 'Battle Island'
where the lone survivor of her seventh grade class, a 12 year old school girl is greeted by the
bustling, jeering, gore-hungry press. In her hands a favourite doll. On her muddy, gore-streaked
face... A smile! the female reporter screams into her microphone. She was smiling, no?! Was that a
smile on the little girl's face?!
Battle Royale is set in near future where a slight shift in sociopolitical
mores could just swing such a mad idea into being. Run like a lottery. Every year one class of unruly
parent-defying Japanese tearaways is sent to Battle Island where they are told that only one of them
will make it off alive. They give them bread and water for the three day event. They give them a bag
containing a weapon of some sort, be it knife, crossbow, machine gun, grenade...
This year's class of 42 students is treated to an introduction to Battle Island in
truly tongue in cheek fashion that reminds one of an MTV weather report on speed. They will die, the
horrified children are told. Then they are introduced to the two dark strangers in the corner. One, a
remand student. The other a volunteer for the show.
The Master of Ceremonies is the class' old fourth grade teacher, hence this
reviewers dumb tagline. He tells them frankly that had they not pissed him off three years back he
would never had volunteered them for a slot on the show. He is utterly without remorse and this makes
his stunning face-twitching performance even more harrowing as he reads out the death count over the
term of the Battle and the hot zones they must avoid.
Oh, didn't I say? Each child has an explosive collar round his neck that can be
remotely activated. Sit back and watch as the pupils form alliances against the other, express their
pathetic form of child love and betray their school mates one after the other. The valiant heroines,
the heroic hackers and the vicious ninja bitches make this multi-layered parody well worth watching.
You will be stunned.
Guide to the Movies
compiled by Tony
Lee editor of Pigasus Press
can order videos and DVD releases reviewed on these pages at
home - Web Gateway for Creative Minds
Myths & Legends
Web Makers Tools
. Your free email