Japan is in a crisis of unemployment accompanied by school boycotting students. The government has therefore made a law; the BR-act, also known as Battle Royale.
Class 3-B is kidnapped on a class outing and they are expected to murder one another till only one is left. Every year a class is selected and they will only have three days to win. If there isn’t one person left at the end but more, the collars they got at the beginning will explode. They also got a bag with food and water and a random weapon. They end up on an island that’s divided into multiple zones. You can be warned via the collar if you are in a danger zone. If you stay in a danger zone, your collar will explode. Who has been murdered and how many are left is tracked. They start with 42 people and after only a couple of minutes there’s only 41 people ‘to go’. The three main characters are Shuya, Noriko and Kawada. Shuya and Noriko are classmates and like each other, while Kawada is a survivor of Battle Royale from three years ago. Kawada also had a girl he liked on the island when he was there for the first time and will do anything to help and protect Shuya and Noriko. There are a lot of other characters, many of whom get their own scene.
Battle Royale portrays the various personalities of people in times of chaos and death and what they will do to survive really well. Some commit suicide, some will start to kill others and others will refuse to kill and will start searching for a hiding spot or a solution to escape. One will be quite upset and crazy, while the other will be coldblooded and merciless.
Battle Royale also leaves nothing to the imagination. Each murder, death and suicide is graphically shown and thus is this movie not suited for the faint of heart. I would categorise Battle Royale under the genres horror/thriller/drama. Horror and thriller because of all the gruesome murders, but also the tension that is created in the movie with the whole situation on the island. The movie is also a drama because of the love and dilemmas between the classmates.
The actors in the movie often take excessive actions, such as running around in a full classroom and bumping into people because their collar almost explodes. Thus the movie loses sometimes its serious side and makes me wonder if it isn’t a bit too much.
This is something more common in Japanese film, so I don’t think it’s that weird.
When I was reading the synopsis of Battle Royale to see if I would fancy watching it, I was immediately surprised by the similarities that this movie has with The Hunger Games. After watching Battle Royale, these similarities are undeniable. The concept is almost the same, but The Hunger Games is more popularised and fitted to be a Hollywood film, while Battle Royale is a very controversial movie that was even banned in some countries.
Personally, I like Battle Royale more for that reason. I’m a big fan of horror and I’m glad Battle Royale didn’t hold back on that. So if you are looking for a good psychological horror with some love drama, Battle Royale may be the one for you!
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Date of release: 2000