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Battle Royale: Director's Cut (Collector's

A movie directed by Kinji Fukasaku

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Finally! Blu-ray BATTLE ROYALE: It Just Doesn't Get Any Better Than This!

  • Mar 30, 2012

So much has been written about the film.  So much has been said.  So much has been debated, discussed, dissected, and so much has been praised or insulted or misunderstood.  Those of us who celebrate film will always owe a special debt to the people at Anchor Bay: for the first time since it was released, BATTLE ROYALE is now being made available – uncensored, uncut, unrated – in America.
No doubt that BATTLE ROYALE’s Blu-ray release was intended to coincide with the launch of another  book-turned-film-franchise, THE HUNGER GAMES, in theatres in March, 2012.  Clearly, that’s some savvy marketing, as people from around the world have been arguing about the comparisons since the books by Suzanna Collins appeared.  To her credit, Ms. Collins claims that she’d never heard of BATTLE ROYALE, nor read the 1999 Japanese novel of the same name that the movie was based on.  I’ll take her at her word, and I’ll leave that debate to folks who’ve schooled themselves in those facts.
In the not-too-distant-future, Japan’s economy has collapsed.  As a result, unemployment is destroying the culture.  Crime is on the rise.  Hoping to keep its next generation under its control, the Japanese government passed The BR (‘Battle Royale’) Law, which requires one 9th grade class each year to be shipped off to an island.  Their mission?  Kill each other until only one person is left.  There are some other fine points to the game (i.e. each student is given a duffle full of supplies, the Island is broken into danger zones, etc.), but the message remains the same: 42 kids enter, 1 may leave.
That simple concept practically explodes into one of the bloodiest, shocking flicks captured on film!
As I said above, much has been written about ROYALE’s violence, so much so that I’ll take a pass on that topic.  Violence is violence – there isn’t any escaping it – and, when buckets of blood rules at the box office, the film certainly delivers.  What fascinated me much more about this story is the way that the 42 students of the film created their own subcultures once they’ve been deposited on the island.  Some of them remain fiercely independent, while others are doggedly loyal to one another.  Some of them panic as a result of the circumstances, and they immediately turn on one another.  What’s fascinating is that who they become as a result of the situation thrust upon them in many ways resembles an extension of who they were before it all when to heck in a handbasket.  The manipulative ‘losers’ become even more manipulative in order to survive the game, just as the computer nerds quickly go to work on cracking the hard science behind their entrapment.  If anything, ROYALE shows – despite its joyous subversiveness – that who a person is at his core will inevitably dictate what he’ll become when a new society comes calling.  Agree with it or not, that’s a powerful message, and it clearly shows why ROYALE deserves much more study in the years ahead.  Now that it’s available legitimately in the U.S., it’ll hopefully gain an even greater following.
As stated, this is a fully uncut restoration, and it’s been given a first class treatment here.  While the disc boasts absolutely zero special features, I’m so appreciative of having a clean cut available to me that I don’t believe I missed much.  The picture is fabulous (mostly), but there are a few scenes which clearly were either shot poorly ‘in the can’ or were tinkered with in post-production (zoom ins), a choice that ultimately limited the quality.  You’ll see instantly what I mean: three or four short cuts are covered in grain.  Sound is excellent – a noticeable improvement over the previous foreign DVD release I’ve had in my collection for a few years – which is nice because the film makes great use of some background audio and even a limited score.  Now all we need is a massive “Intellectual Edition” release which scores and scores and scores of commentaries, essays, features, and interviews about the picture.
Maybe I’m overdoing it, and, if you think so, you’ll have to pardon my excitement.  Those of us who’ve loved ROYALE privately for years are ecstatic to be treated to a terrific stateside release.  Yes, the film’s dark.  Of course, it’s a textbook example of subversive cinema at its finest.  It’ll make you think, squeal, squirm.  Shock.  Joy.  Revenge.  And cookies.  Everything you could want in a picture is in here – somewhere – so, if you’ve never seen it, I encourage you to do it today.  Put the kids to bed.  Pop some fresh popcorn.  Dim the lights.  Prepare yourself for the darkest of dark tragedies – this modern day epic – and let the chips fall where they may.  Blood will be shed.  Oh, yes, it will.
HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION POSSIBLE.  Yes, BATTLE ROYALE is an instant classic.  While the subject matter or elements of the presentation may disturb you, keep in mind that there will probably never be another film like it in your lifetime.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Anchor Bay provided me with a DVD screener copy for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
Finally! Blu-ray BATTLE ROYALE: It Just Doesn't Get Any Better Than This!

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April 07, 2012
Good review with lots of detail !
March 31, 2012
This is one of my favorites! So happy it is finally out on bluray--got a free copy of the combo pack too! Nice one, Ed!
More Battle Royale reviews
review by . September 07, 2009
posted in ASIANatomy
          Kinji Fukasaki’s “BATTLE ROYALE” (Batoru Rowaiaru, 2000) is the type of film whose reputation precedes it. The film sparked such controversy and almost became banned from its native Japan. Its hype was far-reaching that when the movie reached America, it was even proclaimed the ‘movie of the decade’. I’m not sure whether I can agree with that claim but one thing’s for sure; Japanese filmmakers had the guts …
review by . August 08, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Class, today's assignment is to kill your fellow students.
Battle Royale is a theatrical adaptation of the Japanese novel of the same name.  The film takes place in a near future Japan under the rule of a ultra-conservative government.  In order to keep the kids in line, a class is randomly selected to participate in a Battle Royale amongst themselves.  The rules are simple.  They most kill each other until there is only one survivor.  In order to keep the game moving, the students are rigged with an explosive collar and the necklace …
review by . July 08, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
This is a film with an extraordinarily flimsy and unrealistic premise. It violates its own rules and internal logic. It is, essentially, a great big snuff-film.    And I really liked it.    There's not a lot you can say about this film, really. 42 middle school kids, most of them played by actors who either actually are, or at least look close to, the ages of the characters are hauled out to an island and told to kill each other until only one is left. This …
review by . April 18, 2007
posted in ASIANatomy
"Battle Royale" become a cult favorite in many corners of the world. Fukasaku wanted this movie to be viewed by all ages, but putting its gory depictions of death and blood into consideration the ratings would not allow it. The film has provoked outrage, and I think this was the intent. Children are viewed as being innocent, yet here, we see them killing each other in gruesome ways, with or without remorse. Being that I only seen this twice but on my third watch it still gets me.    As …
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Ed ()
What? You don't know enough about me from the picture? Get a clue! I'm a graduate from the School of Hard Knocks! You can find me around the web as "Trekscribbler" or "Manchops".   … more
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With the Japanese currently leading the way in thought-provoking cinematic violence, it's only fitting that Kinji Fukasaku'sBattle Royaleis being touted as aClockwork Orangefor the 21st century. Based on the novel by Koshun Takami, the film opens with a series of fleeting images of unruly Japanese schoolchildren, whose bad behavior provides a justification for the "punishments" that will ensue. Once the prequel has been dispensed with, the classmates are drugged and awaken on an island where they find they have been fitted with dog collars that monitor their every move. Instructed by their old teacher ("Beat" Takeshi) with the aid of an upbeat MTV-style video, they are told of their fate: after an impartial lottery they have been chosen to fight each other in a three-day, no-rules contest, the "Battle Royale." Their only chance of survival is through the death of all their classmates.

Some pupils embrace their mission with zeal, while others simply give up or try to become peacemakers and revolutionaries. However, the ultimate drive for survival comes from the desire to protect the one you love. Battle Royale works on many different levels, highlighting the authorities' desperation to enforce law and order and the alienation caused by the generation gap. Whether you consider the film an important social commentary or simply watch it for the adrenaline-fueled violence, this is set to become cult viewing for the computer game ...

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Director: Kinji Fukasaku
DVD Release Date: June 15, 2004
Runtime: 122 minutes
Studio: Toei
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