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This review is from: Battle Royale [DVD]  (DVD)
With the sequel receiving it's first official screening in the UK on Saturday 1st November at the London Film Festival, I felt it was time to return to Kinji's original to fuel my lust for disturbing and shocking violence. The sequel has been saddened by the death of Kinji at the age of 73 from prostate cancer, who directed over 63 movies in his lifetime. Following his death, well respected publication 'The Economist' praised him for his life's work and its contribution to cinema, and deservedly so. Battle Royale 2 was completed by his son, and is scheduled for a theatrical UK release early in 2004.
Much controversy surrounded the filming of such a brutal tale and many companies refused to distribute it before Tartan Asia (known for their extreme tastes) snapped it up. Unfortunately, many cinemas refused to show the movie, but it has gained cult status since arriving on DVD. The director's cut version manages to be even more macabre and breathtaking than the theatrical version, whilst successfully fulfilling the needs of the sickest mind. That'll be me then.
It's the dawn of the new millennium and Japan is living on a knife-edge, ready to fall into anarchy and economical collapse at any moment. The young are spiralling out of control, whilst employment levels are at an all time low. As the youth skip school and abuse their teachers; the overwhelmed, exhausted and near-defeated government act, introducing the radical and extreme Battle Royale act.
The act dictates that one randomly selected school-class be sent to a deserted island, where they will fight to the death until one remains. The sole survivor is not a winner, but merely a rulebook personified that denotes just what lengths the Japanese government will go to curb the rising scale of Juveniles' disrespect for society.
I'm sure many viewers of Battle Royale simply overlooked the film as just another excuse to portray violence on the theatre-screen, but it goes much deeper than that. The film investigates a world that can certainly not be far away from our own, as we witness a decay in youth's respect for their elders. As well as this we watch the development of closed friendship groups as the kids refuse to trust their peers, and the way that the need for survival can overcome all of our usual emotions.
Battle Royale is a superb explosive film, which portrays a society in ruins, shocking many and opening our eyes to a youth culture that may not be so far away.