Title: Battle Royale
Director: Kinji Fukasaku
Starring: Takeshi Kitano, Chiaki Kuriyama
In a world where teenagers have no respect and adults are losing control there can be only one solution: Battle Royale! Now, see what happens when you let a high school class loose on an island, arm them and then give them a simple choice... kill your friends or have them kill you; with poison, cross-bows, machetes and dynamite. ‘Beat’ Takeshi Kitano (Violent Cop, Zatoichi) is a teacher pushed to the edge by his unruly charges. Kidnapped and gassed, his class wake up with exploding metal rings around their necks. If they rebel, they could lose their heads. Now they have three days and only one is permitted to survive this grisly battle to the death.
It seems a little redundant to extol the virtues of Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale. In the 10 years since its release I’ve never heard a word against it; it seemed to get a reputation as a modern classic that’s stuck.
So to keep it brief, if you’ve never seen it, yes it deserves its reputation. Kinji Fukasaku manages to take a cast of 42 school kids, some bit parts, some major players, and make each one distinct, with believable motivations and behaviour. Not one is there just to fill a school uniform; an unbelievable feat in itself.
As exploitative as a film about school kids killing each other might sound, this isn’t a Japanese version of The Running Man; there’s plenty of pathos here not just violence. The tragedy of the situation is how truly good most of the kids are, they’re nowhere near the monsters they’ve been accused of being, so there’s enough social commentary there to keep a film student happy for a while too.
Alternatively, if you know and love Battle Royale, you’ll be wondering whether this new edition is worth your while.
This three disk Blu-ray edition (a matching DVD version is also released) boasts both the theatrical and director's cuts of the film. Also included is a 57 minute long documentary: a fascinating look at the making of the film and a glimpse into Japanese culture.
Along with more documentaries and television spots is a brand new 32 page comic and a booklet with commentary and interviews about the film that has extra content in this limited edition, that won’t be available in the special edition released next year.
Exclusive to this limited edition as well is a 16 page booklet of concept art and some postcards.
Picture quality, while obviously not to the standard of the best Blu-rays, is good and the classical score is particularly satisfying when blasted through a good home theatre set-up.
Each edition of the box set is individually numbered up to 10,000, so it might be an idea to get in quickly for this one. If you’re a fan of Battle Royale, or a newcomer, there’s no excuse not to get this outstanding box set. Check out the image below and then head to your preferred retailer, you won’t want to miss this one.