Battle Royale (2000) Film Review 5/5

Way back in the day when I wrote my review of the German horror classic FUNNY GAMES, I said some things about Germany that I would like to reiterate and even improve on when it comes to our friends in the Pacific, the Japanese. The Germans are fucked up, but hooooly shit the Japanese definitely gives those motherfuckers a run for their money, and perhaps, they’re even starting to pass up our Teutonic friends. God bless those Yellow Aryans and their tentacle videos!

It’s the cusp of the new millennium and the Japanese educational system is up to its hairless nuts in a host of problems. You see, much like here in America, their country is going to shit too and unlike here, they don’t have Congress to save them through sensitivity training and taxing everyone to death (teehee!). We’re luckier than them, I guess, but then again, they’ve got something we don’t.

The BR Act! What is the BR Act, you say? Well, I’ll tell you.

The BR Act is a law enacted by the Japanese parliament. Every year they get a class of ninth graders together, gas them all, slap collars with blinky lights and explosives on them, and play a little game. This game is simple; all the kids get sent out onto a deserted island on the coast, monitored with satellites, and the last kid to not be dead is the winner! They get backpacks with food and supplies, and a weapon of some sort. If your favorite school kid is lucky, he or she will get an Uzi. If your favorite school kid is unlucky, he or she will get a frying pan. Oh yeah, can you feel the love yet?

Now if you’re anything like me you’ve already got a hard-on, because nothin’ says loving like Japanese schoolgirls, in their schoolgirl uniforms, slaughtering one another in horrible, graphic, and beautiful ways. Believe me, it gets better. In addition to the class, they bring back their old teacher, Kitano (Beat Takeshi, who wrote, directed, and starred in ZATOICHI), to supervise their game. This is probably one of my favorite Beat Takeshi (also known as, Takeshi Kitano) acting roles ever, because he’s so disgustingly chipper and friendly when he’s not making kids heads explode thanks to his remote control. Add to this orgy of violence an ass-kicking classical music soundtrack, and you’ve got yourself an instant classic in the making.

One of the hard things about working with ‘high-school’ aged movies is that usually you’ve got to cast 30 year old to be the high school kids, but for once, they actually, gasp, get high school kids (who can act!) to play the roles and that makes the movie that much better. Tatsuya Fujiwara (Shuya) does an excellent job at portraying the scared kid just trying to make sense of everything and survive, with Aki Maeda (Noriko) providing a lot of cuteness to her damsel in distress role. The class-act actors and actresses to keep an eye on here, though, are the two former BR champions who come back as ringers: one because he likes to kill and the other because he wants to bring down the BR system.

The drama here is not figuring out who is going to die, or even when someone is going to die, but who is going to dispatch them and how. The tagline for the movie is “Can you kill your best friend?” and indeed, the movie is a test of that sentiment. Keep an eye out for a younger Chiaki Kiriyama as Chigusa (GoGo in KILL BILL VOLUME 1) and keep both eyeballs peeled for the awesome, sick acting job that is done by the class-hottie turned ice-cold death merchant Mitsuko (Kou Shibakashi). Good looking and deadly never went so well together, and the characterization was basically stolen by Kiriyama for GoGo, so you know it is good stuff.

This is one of the most controversial movies ever made. A huge success in Japan in its limited run, it was eventually pulled from the screens still hot from the projectors after parents groups raised concerns over its awesomely gory content and kids killing one another. That being said, if it’s too rough for Japan, you know you can’t find it here in America. Check out our buddies at HK Flix and get yourself a copy of this.

Do yourself a favor, get the special edition director’s cut. It adds more characterization and sweetens the gore. It’s worth it. This bitch is classic.

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