Battle Royale

2000 cult classic

Rating: 15/20 (Mark: 18/20)

Plot: Forty-two students are transported to an island, given a random weapon (firearms, paper fans, nunchucks, tasers, etc.), and instructed to kill each other off. Their old teacher, "Beat" Takeshi Kitano, is there, too. I think there's something like this in the "No Child Left Behind" act.

My favorite thing about this movie: I busied my brain trying to guess how a pair of binoculars and/or a pan lid were going to come into play, and then nothing ever materialized. Battle Royale gets some points for effort. People who don't like it will tag it with a violence porn label. People who do like it will talk about it as a satire of the Japanese educational system and how society demands that children compete against their peers. And maybe I'm just desensitized to this sort of thing, but I didn't think it was all that violent. And I didn't think the satire--muddled and missing a few pieces--added up to much. There are a ton of characters in this, but the ratio of interesting characters to uninteresting ones is a problem. I liked the teacher (and Kitano [Zatoichi in the 2004 version of the blind swordsman movie]is always pretty awesome) and the crazy girl (Chiaki Kuriyama--Gogo in Kill Bill Volume One) and maybe the mean kid who doesn't get any lines. The others, including the rest of the forty-two children, aren't really memorable. I'm not sure I'm willing to sacrifice the quantity and variety of violent acts by limiting the amount of characters, but there sure were a lot of characters to keep track of in this. And, as you can probably guess, they all looked almost exactly the same, which made any subplots or connections between the characters kind of confusing. I did like that this movie wasn't afraid to show not only all those scenes of Japanese pop idols dying tragic deaths but also showing it all with a healthy dose of black humor. The action's paced well, and I liked how this explored the varying psychologies of children put in traumatic situations. This definitely lost a point because of the sickeningly melodramatic score. I have no problems watching a kid with an ax sticking out of his head stumble around on a television screen. However, I have no tolerance for bad film music.

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