Saturday, 23 July 2011
Battle Royale is a film where Japanese school children fight to deaf with a variety of weapons on an island. I could leave this entry here and should have sold it well. Sometime in an anarchistic future the government sets up an initiative to scare off the worst behaved children and have fun. The rules of the game are after three days if everyone but one person hasn’t died then they all die, via a bomb strapped to their neck. The set-up is rather flimsy but does the job; it isn’t important. What is important is that Japanese school children have frag grenades, uzis and crossbows. This is first and foremost an action movie, which is cathartic and great fun. The immature tone does well, nowhere does this film try to justify itself, it jumps into a big, dumb fun romp and rolls with it.
Battle Royale takes a simple concept and gets maximum mileage out of it by working on a variety of different levels; you could enjoy it simply as a gameshow; you pick your favourites, root for people, boo the villains and are genuinely invested in who survives.
It makes for quality drama too; as old friends balance their survival with friendship. The characters, of which there are many, are all given at least a basic personality and drama is wrought of it well. The villains are cackling and evil while the heroes are innocent and kind. The film has heart to it aswell, a love interest bursts between the two who don’t stand the slightest chance and you really get invested wanting them somehow to survive, despite knowing one must die.
You could also watch this movie as an armchair contestant, every strategy or way of thinking about the situation is explored thoroughly, I left the film thinking for days about which of my friends I’d team up with, what is the ideal place to hide, who’d get the machine gun.
Furthermore you could view the film as a satire. I remember reading this review and being impressed by how much I missed, but in reality the director only acknowledges the themes and never really runs off with them, preferring to stick to the solid narrative.
Finally the plot twists and turns, some things turn out to not be as they seem and revelations come in. As a thriller the film stands up fine and congratulations to the script writer on creating a satisfying ending which could have otherwise been impossible.
I think you’d be surprised how much you like this film. All things considered the violence is pretty tame, it doesn’t come anywhere near to the Rambo orgy of gore and is restrained. The film is also in a foreign language, but dialogue is kept to a minimum and it really doesn’t detract from the experience. The pace never drops on this rollercoaster ride and don’t be put off by how violent or absurd it seems, it is infact simply a very good action film that is worth checking up.