Popcorn Hangover movie reviews. This time – Battle Royale

Battle RoyaleWelcome to Popcorn Hangover movie reviews. In my first review we will look at – what is in my eyes – a Japanese cinema classic called Battle Royale.

The story starts with teacher Kitano being stabbed in the leg by Yoshitoki in school while Yoshi’s friend, Shuya, is trying to cope with the suicide of his father.  Later, Yoshi and Shuya join their classmate, Noriko, and the rest of 3-B class on a field trip marking the end of their mandatory education, and are gassed on the way back.  The class wakes up in a barren room – with explosive collars around their neck – in front of their former teacher Kitano who tells them they have been picked to participate in the annual “BR Act’s” Battle Royale.  The rules are simple –

  1. The Game last 3 days
  2. The island is broken into zones, and one is called out every 6 hours.  If you stay in that zone for more than one hour, your collar explodes.
  3. Everyone is given a bag with a map, provisions, and one various object, such as a pot lid, a taser, a paper fan, a gun, a knife, etc. to be used as a weapon.
  4. There can be only one winner.
  5. Last one alive at the end of the three days wins.

One thing that hooks me is the original content.  The story is so left field that it is hard to place it in one specific category.  It is part horror movie due to the violence, it is part romance because of the relationships the students have with each other, it is part drama for the same reason it is part romance, and there are parts of humor such as the “orientation” video hosted by a faux punk Japanese girl shown to the kids before the game starts.  The kids put forth good performances, such as the Shuya, Noriko, and actress that plays tough girl Chigusa.

While there was talk about an American version, the intention of making it a hard rated R movie (making it almost commercially unviable) and the killings at Virginia Tech killed any thoughts of it.  However, the upcoming movie, Hunger Games, has been trashed on some websites as a bastardization of Battle Royale, although other contend there are enough differences to warrant the benefit of the doubt that the story wasn’t copied.

It isn’t an easy movie to find, but if you are into crazy, off the main road movies, then Battle Royale is worth the search.

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