Set in a future where the country (in this case, Japan) is falling apart, where juvenile crime is continually rising and the education system is failing – the BR Act is born. It is a law that forces a number of junior high students to fight for their lives on a deserted island, to kill until only one person stands.
Does this synopsis sound familiar to you? A little film by the name of The Hunger Games, perhaps? Well, Battle Royale is the ORIGINAL Hunger Games. In actuality, The Hunger Games is a blatant rip off of this film, which was so ahead of its time when it came out in 2000.
There are some cool aspects of this film that are missing from The Hunger Games. These kids (dressed in their school uniforms) have sensors around their necks that look like dog collars. These sensors help the BR committee keep track of who is killed and also has the ability to blow their pretty little heads to smithereens if they don’t follow the rules. There is a three day time limit and if there is no one winner at that time, all the sensors will explode and everyone will die. Every child is given a different weapon at the beginning of the competition – some as good as a gun and some as useless as a pot lid or paper fan. It’s the luck of the draw in this dog eat dog world.
Obviously this film isn’t as high-tech as The Hunger Games, being made over a decade before. But Battle Royale has the violence and brutality that is missing from The Hunger Games. I mean, these movies are about KIDS killing each other. It should be as shocking as it sounds. Yet somehow The Hunger Games has managed to turn this horrifying plot into a fluff piece. I WILL give The Hunger Games credit where it is deserved though, and that is the emotional tug. There are too many kids (42, to be exact) in Battle Royale for the audience to have an emotional connection to, so when these kids die it isn’t as sad as losing certain characters from The Hunger Games.
Nothing is off limits in Battle Royale. It is obvious that Quentin Tarantino’ character Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill is inspired by this film. The actress is in both films as a weapon wielding young girl in a plaid mini skirt. Tarantino also employs the blood spraying violence that is so prevalent in Japanese films like this one. In fact, Battle Royale is one of Japan’s top grossing films ever and has become a cult favorite here in America. Even though it runs a little long at nearly 2 hours, it still reigns as the film The Hunger Games WISHES it could be.
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