Kinji Fukasaku's violent action thriller, set in Japan in the near future. To curb rising civil unrest, the Government agrees to the staging of Battle Royale, in which a school class of teenagers are taken to a remote island, fitted with explosive collars to ensure complicity, supplied with weapons and given three days to kill each other until a single victorious survivor remains.
Zentsuji Middle School is chosen to provide the contestants, who will be overseen by embittered ex-teacher Kitano (Takeshi Kitano), now given the chance to exact any revenge he wishes. The pupils react differently: Kiriyama (Masanobu Ando) proves an accomplished psychopath and kills for sport, while Shinji attempts to build a bomb and kill the game's creators. As unlikely alliances are formed and the body count rises, nobility and integrity arise to balance the bloodshed and subvert the battle...
From Lord of The Flies to Series 7: The Contenders, the dystopian satire has proven its cinematic worth; Battle Royale is a worthy addition to the genre. From the MTV-style video guide to genocide for dummies and the classical music played over the school's Tannoy, a sense of eerie plausibility prevails, playing on the dominance of computer games, reality TV and pulp fiction in modern culture.
Presenting the children as expendable - characters and actors swap names throughout, giving them an impermanence as the death toll is counted onscreen - the film naturally falls to Kitano to take control. Living the dream of every British teacher (having control of an exploding neck collar for each of his pupils), the actor sports fury, disdain and malevolence. He also provides the moral weight, watching the players every move while waiting for his own moment of perfect redemption.
Preview courtesy of Channel 4