This is more of a set review than a movie breakdown because i like knowing what my boxset looks like and how it sounds when getting something I have wanted this long and I have wanted this a long time. I've been holding onto my set of Battle Royale discs from Korea for so long that I had almost given up on the movies having an American release. Its a beautiful thing to have, and on BluRay no less. I could not believe how much better the first movie looked this way and how nice the sound was when ported into after being mixed properly.
As far as the set goes, it comes with Battle Royale theatrical and director's cut, Battle Royale 2, theatrical cut, and a "bonus disc."
Battle Royale. Director's Cut, is in Japanese: TrueHD 7.1, English: Dolby TrueHD:5.1.
The Battle Royale, Theatrical, and Battle Royal 2, Theatrical, are both in Japaense Dolby TrueDd 5:1.
All are in widescreen and all have English subtitles.
The bonus disc is a normal DVD, which doesn't really matter considering what is on it. The material includes:
"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.
I'm not normally a fan of packaging for a DVD set, but I really, really, really like the packaging for this as well. Its hard to see it from pictures alone, but the set is designed just like a book and, when closed, it looks the part. Opening it, you get the picture of the complete group on the first divide. The second has a montage of smaller battle pictures with a map of the island on the left side and the main people's faces on the right. The third, left, is an even more detailed breakdown of the island, breaking it into areas. The adjoining right side is a class photograph. The rest is basically more pictures, a line-up of the second movie's people, and the "obsession" picture form the first film. These are nice, actually, and make a nice DVD set look and feel BUT you have to be careful. The packaging can be tight and the DVDs could scratch easily when removed. This just means watching the excitement a little when handling.
For anyone who does not know what Battle Royale is about, skipping the spoilers, Japan passed a self-defense act after riots broke loose. Each year, a class of middle schoolers is selected to participate in an exercise that basically pits everyone in it, friend or foe, against each other. There are complex rules you would enjoy seeing more than reading here and connections the characters have that make the loses personal. The 2nd movie is not as good as the first and, being technical, the director's cut is a bit better than this version. Still, having it in this set is the best way I know of to get them. There has not been an American release before.
These movies are violent and tragic and beautiful in a lot of ways, housing much of what the book brought to life. There are differences, sure, but it still does a lot to bring out just how terrible this could be. Paired with flashbacks of how people know each other and ambitions and wants, sometimes even the worse person can be understood and empathized with. To me, that's beautiful and rare.
I give this a solid 5/5.