A cross between Lord of the Flies and Survivor, Battle Royale is an entertaining, violent, and twisted film with a sense of humor. There’s nothing much beyond the premise but its a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

As Japan’s economy collapses, the nation’s youth responds with violence and delinquency. To restore order, the government issues the Millennial Reform School Act wherein a group of random kids from junior high are selected to play a deadly war game called “Battle Royale”. Kitano, a bitter instructor from Zentsuji Middle School, guides Class B – a group composed of 44 students who are thrown into an island to kill each other until one survivor is left.

The story is really simple.  Its kill, get killed or – in this case – die from a monitored collar. The plot is filled with senseless killing but the interesting mix of characters and how they respond to the game makes the movie engaging. With convincing actors,  there are worthy villains to watch out, and a group of hopefuls that you’ll root for.

Character stories are shown and final acts are done, which makes their deaths no less meaningful. Alliances are made and destroyed, friendships are tested and killers are born. Some defy the system, some choose their own fate, some are forced to play the game to protect themselves, while others are more than willing to engage in a fight to the death.

Even though there’s plenty of violence, the movie also has a sense of humor. It makes fun of its own crazy premise. Battle Royale is carried out like any other game. There’s an instructional video with a preppy girl and players are given items to fight with.

In the end, the movie ends like any other war – nobody really wins, and the fight continues. It doesn’t really have anything profound to say, and it doesn’t make much sense. Is it a political satire? a metaphor for teenage angst? a reflection of parent’s anxiety towards their disrespectful children? or just a downright bloody film? Questions aside, the film excels as a morbidly entertaining spectator sport with relatable characters.

My Rating: 8/10

Alternative Movie Poster by Keorattana Luangrathrajasombat

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