Friday, March 12, 2010

Batoru Rowaiaru "Battle Royal" (2000)

Batoru Rowaiaru "Battle Royal" (2000) Dir. by Kinji Fukasaku

In the future, the Japanese government captures a class of ninth-grade students and forces them to kill each other under the revolutionary "Battle Royale" act.

I know it is not technically a horror movie, but it has a lot of scary elements. When it comes to Fukasaku, I guess I'm going ass-backwards. This was his second to last film, only Battle Royal 2 to follow, and yet this is the first film of his I have seen. I have to say, I was pretty impressed, and after watching this, I definitely plan on watching more of his work.

The film starts off with a bang, and rarely lets up. I enjoy the way Fukasaku throws you into the action right away, and gives you back stories and characters to help with development in short five minute clips. Usually I don't care for the flashback method that much, but he does it so swift and straight to the point, you hardly notice. Long range external shots of beautiful landscape really doesn't hurt much either. Unlike The Condemned, America's version, this one was riveting and rarely predictable. They didn't waste time killing people off, and showing so by letting you see the names of the dead scroll across the bottom of the screen. The death toll was higher than most films, yet it never lost creativity in death sequences. The story itself is just crazy. 9Th graders forced to kill each other off. It never really tells you why it is happening, but throws you into the movie so fast you don't care.

I really enjoyed the teacher's character. He was a funny scary. He knows the stuff he is doing is wrong, but enjoys it and refers to it as a game. His obsession with one of the girls in the class is borderline creepy for sure. That just adds more tension. The student transfers introduced before the games definitely add a large amount of action to the movie. Once again I found a movie with subtitles that I find extremely easy to follow. I'm getting good at this.

The things that really bothered me about the film rarely took away from me enjoying it. There were just too many characters to really give any of them some development. The only ones I seemed to care about were the handful that had flashback stories. Maybe he intended for me to not care about them, as it would be easy to watch them die. I'm not trying to be racist when I say, other than the teacher, the transfers, and the one crazy girl, all the people in this film looked alike. There really wasn't much difference in a lot of the character's appearance, maybe due to the school uniform. The other thing I could have done without is all the crossing love stories. One or two would have been fine, but I was having trouble remembering who was with who, and who had a crush on who. It was like watching and episode of As The World Turns. I feel like it really took away from the film, and they could have just stuck with the main romance subplot.

I am really going to recommend this film to anyone who is OK with subtitles. It is truly visually appealing, as well as a movie that makes you think a bit. The ending might have bin a bit off kilter, but I enjoyed it non-the-less.

Entertainment Value: 8/10 Pot Lids
Cinematic Value: 7/10 Pot Lids


Carl (ILHM) said...

I absolutely love the shit out of this film, I find the set up to be hilarious and the anime style cinema is brilliant and dark. Been meaning to review this one again for a while!

venoms5 said...

This is an excellent movie. Takeshi Kitano was superb as the teacher on the edge. The film was featured on Court TV around the time of its release if I remember right.

The sequel (most especially the opening few minutes) continues the trend of insuring this series will probably never, ever play, or be sold in stores in America. The first 40 or 50 minutes of part 2 are breathtaking, but it quickly goes downhill after that, at least to me. Possibly it's a culture thing.