Sunday, October 21, 2012

Final Girl Film Club - Battle Royale

Throughout October, Cody will be participating in the Final Girl Film Club SHOCKtober event with articles posted on a different movie every day of the month.

Today, the 2000 Japanese film Battle Royale.

Based on a novel by Koushun Takami, director Kinji Fukasaku's film presents a nightmarish future in which the country of Japan, fearing its own rebellious youths, has passed something called the Millennium Educational Act, also known as the BR Act. Under this act, a ninth grade class is drawn from a random lottery every year to compete in a Battle Royale, to fight to the death until only one student remains.

This year, the forty-two students of Class B have been chosen to battle. They are taken, without consent, by military forces to a deserted island and set loose on the 10 kilometers of land, each given a weapon of some sort, each fitted with a necklace that has an explosive charge within it. If they try to remove the necklace, the charge will go off and blow their throat open. If they do something that's against the rules of the game, the charge will go off. At different times, areas of the island will become Danger Zones, and if a student is in an area when it becomes a Danger Zone, their necklace explodes. The Battle Royale is to last no longer than three days, and if there's no winner when time runs out, all of the necklaces will explode.

And so the film consists of this group of ninth graders hunting and killing each other on this island. Some of them want to stick together, some commit suicide, some want to try to figure out how to beat the game, others just set out to kill everyone they come across so they can win and go home.

It's very disturbing subject matter, handled dead seriously with a dark tone, aided by dark cinematography. There's never a slasher movie sort of thrill from the kill scenes, they're all horrific, especially given that they're being done by young kids, who in between kills still talk about things like cliques and crushes. Some of the kills are so cruel and/or so brutal that they're hard to even watch.

My first viewing of the movie, I found it so troubling and intense that I had to take a break from watching it about halfway through, right after a kill committed by a character played by Chiaki Kuriyama, who would go on to play Gogo Yubari in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill.

Battle Royale is not a fun movie to watch and it's not one I revisit very often, but it is a great movie.

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