Friday, November 1, 2013

Battle Royale (2012)

Battle RoyaleWith the emergence of "The Hunger Games" phenomenon of the last few years, the inevitable comparisons between that franchise and the cult novel "Battle Royale" by Koushun Takami have been plentiful. Sure, the two do share strong thematic and narrative similarities, but each has a distinctly unique vibe and explores the back story behind the violence in a different way. The film adaptation of "Battle Royale" by director Kenji Fukasaku garnered almost instant international notoriety in 2000 for its disturbingly bleak portrait of kids set upon one another in a violent death match. Despite being banned and reviled by many, the story's visceral and emotional punch was hard to deny. It was nominated for numerous Japanese Academy Awards including Best Film, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Screenplay and won that country's "Popularity Award." The rumor that Hollywood was flirting with an American remake has been circulating for years, but some seem to think that the film adaptation of "The Hunger Games" might have hurt the likelihood of this occurrence. In any event, I never had high hopes that an American interpretation could rival the original.

"Battle Royale" is being released in two incarnations, a film only DVD/ Blu-ray or "The Complete Collection" DVD/Blu-ray.

Film Only: This includes the Director's Cut of the film. First, the story is about a future Japan whose economy is in collapse and whose crime rate is spiraling out-of-control. In an effort to temper this uptick in violence by the juvenile population, the government has sanctioned an annual contest. In the movie, forty-two middle school aged students are dropped off and left to battle one another for survival. They are armed and coerced into fighting, for there can be only one winner left alive. As often as I've seen this movie, it never fails to shock and disturb me as it is exceptionally intense and powerful. Some complain that it isn't as "good" as the source novel (which is a pretty common argument with most translations from the page to the screen), but I think this is a daring and audacious film that succeeds fully on its own merits. I'm not, however, a huge fan of the Director's Cut. I don't think the extra footage adds appreciable value to the movie and I don't love the extended finale. This version has no special features.

Complete Collection (4 discs): The four discs are (1) Director's Cut of the film (see above), (2) Theatrical Cut, (3) 2003's "Battle Royale II" and (4) Bonus Content Disc. While I would certainly consider the original "Battle Royale" as a classic, its sequel is less so. It carries the same concept over to a new class with some variations on the original theme, but the major difference is that an underground plot by an unexpected terrorist cell plays a large part in this year's action. It's solid enough, I like it. It just lacks the emotional kick of the first film.

Bonus Disc Content included in Complete Collection only. This is on a standard DVD even in the Blu-Ray set (but all three films are on Blu-ray). The Making Of BATTLE ROYALE, BATTLE ROYALE Press Conference, Instructional Video: Birthday Version, Audition & Rehearsal Footage, Special Effects Comparison Featurette, Tokyo International Film Festival 2000, Battle Royale Documentary, Basketball Scene Rehearsals, Behind-The-Scenes Featurette, Filming On-Set, Original Theatrical Trailer, Special Edition TV Spot, TV Spot: Tarantino Version. It's a lot of Bonus Material, but it has been used on Special Edition International versions of the DVD and is not new to this set. Blu-Ray films have 1080p video and Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtracks. KGHarris, 1/12.

Before you type out a retaliatory positive reviewread on!

I want to start off by saying I absolutely LOVE Battle RoyaleIt is most certainly on my list of favorite movies. HOWEVERthis 'Director's Cut' is total garbage.

Sadly, as with the case for many 'Special Edition' DVDs, Battle Royale: Director's Cut adds unnecessary footage that does nothing to enhance the film. The end is extending by 8 minutes or so and delves into a sort of epilogue and series of dream sequences.

The Battle Royale wiki explains the changes here: (...)

No attempt was made to clean up the subtitles: I can ignore misspellings and incorrect conjugations however at one point the subtitles ran off the screen. The subtitles in the added scenes were far worse than that of the rest of the movie.

I am not bashing Battle Royale; I want people to buy the regular version and forget that this Director's Cut is even an option.

Buy Battle Royale (2012) Now

(2008 HOLIDAY TEAM)"Battle Royale" is a superb film, subtle and sad and over-the-top and loud all at the same time. The story is often compared to "Lord of the Flies," but that is a bit of a misnomer. "Lord of the Flies" was about reverting to primitivism, whereas "Battle Royale" is a futuristic cautionary tale in the tune of "1984" and "Brave New World." The caution at work here is the threat of absolute bureaucracy, and the dangers of the loss of the value of life and respect in a rules-dominated society. This is a threat quite apparent in modern Japan.

The actors in "Battle Royale" all deliver excellent performances, including the amazing talent "Beat" Takeshi Kitano playing the appropriately named "Kitano." The film was not directed by Takeshi however, so it lacks his beautiful visual style. It does however feature one of his riveting paintings. There is a good range of responses from the various actors playing the students, from outright suicide, to panic, to a drive to win to a drive to help. Unfortunately, the character of Kazuo Kiriyama (the machine gun boy) is woefully underdeveloped, and instead of the fierce, cold genius of the book he is a somewhat characterless villain.

While a violent film, I wouldn't characterize "Battle Royale" as an action film per se. Anyone looking for a Hong Kong-style action film should realize that Japan and China are quite different countries with different approach to movies.. "Battle Royale" retains the quietude and patient pacing that is the hallmark of Japanese cinema, and which leaves some viewers bored, who are used to a quicker pacing. The bloodshed, while in great quantity, is also more cartoony in nature, which is also more typical of Japanese films, which does not favor a naturalistic approach.

I think some familiarity with problems in modern Japan (ie: school violence, overwhelming bureaucracy) gives some necessary perspective to this controversial movie, and helps frame it as more than exploitation. It is a political statement, with a subtle message underlying the overt violence. Along with this, knowledge of Japanese culture deepens the understandings of certain scenes, such as when Kitano performs the prescribed exercises, and the training video shown at the beginning. Without understanding, these scenes might come off as merely quaint or odd.

Read Best Reviews of Battle Royale (2012) Here

Very good movie. I strongly reccomend this movie to anyone who enjoys strange movies, because you've never ever seen a movie like this.

It's the future... Kids have stopped going to class, and are becoming pests. So the government has started a new program called the "BATTLE ROYALE SURVIVAL PROJECT." What happens is that one class of 9th graders a year is chosen by impartial lottery to go onto a deserted island. The kids then get 'voted off' the island. And by 'voted off' I mean they kill each other. Each kid gets a bag, inside is food, water, a map, and a random weapon. With this weapon, they are ordered to kill each other until one remains.

This movie has everything. Violence, plot, character development (somewhat -enough to satasfy me), and an amazing story. It'll keep you on the end of your seat, or couch, or whatever.

Oh, and if you go out and see the new Tarantino movie, KILL BILL, the actress that plays Liu's bodyguard is one of the kids from Battle Royale.

Buy this movie. I can't stress it enough.

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this movie has alot of qualities that i liked from the start. the way the students tried to find a way around the game, the social interactions of the students, and the question of could you kill your best friend. the movie goes smoothly from the start, with everyone on the bus, and then comes to on the island. i even have a soft spot for kitano, the cookie eating teacher. the cast did a superb job giving the book characters life and keeping to the plot. and the fact that it didnt save characters that you get to like made it sad, yet, gave the sense that the students really were trying to survive. the one thing i like to point out is the way the students' clicks fell apart after one or two days. some worked better as a team, while others got ripped apart at the seams.

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