Movie #82 2020: Battle Royale (2000)

For those of you who don’t know, Battle Royale is a cult dystopian action thriller made in Japan. Yes, once again you might be put off because of the subtitles, but this is a foreign language film with a difference.

The concept and plot of the movie has been rigorously compared to The Hunger Games series of books/films, as it showcases a sinister ‘competition’ of sorts in which the competitors have to kill to survive. What I’m saying is, just like The Hunger Games, this is survival of the fittest.

And by God, Suzanne Collins just ignored every copyright law, didn’t she? It is evident that Collins lifted a lot of her ideas from this movie, which is kind of annoying, but really should be taken as a compliment as it just shows the impact that Battle Royale had.

Where THG pales in comparison however is that in this movie, there are over 40 people involved in ‘the game’, whereas Hunger Games has what? Maybe half that? As a result, Battle Royale never gets boring. There are more characters, more crazy deaths, more blood, more gore, and – most importantly – no shallow love confessionals from straight, white people. I should warn you though, this movie is rated 18 in the UK. So although THG is kind of okay for children and teens, Battle Royale definitely is not. It is much, much more violent, there’s foul language… Basically, there’s much less ‘teen drama gloss’ and more ‘raw, Tarantino-esque brutality’.

Whilst we’re talking about Quentin, this movie is said to have inspired many scenes from his own films, particularly the Kill Bill series. (Fun fact: one of the actors in Battle Royale, Chiaki Kuriyama, also stars as the memorable, nunchuck-swinging Gogo in Volume 1, so the impact that this movie had on Tarantino was clearly deep).

The absolute best part of this movie is the sequence in which there are several of the female contestants cooking together. The girls try to maintain friendly relationships alongside the juxtaposition of the gory, ominous background noise of death. Without spoiling it, let’s just say that it does not go as planned; death ensues in front of a bubblegum pink wall that is quickly painted red. It’s a brilliant scene not only for entertainment value, but cinematographically as well.

On top of that, the soundtrack is absolutely perfect. The director chooses to pair everything with classical music rather than popular music, which is 100 per cent the right move. Although the movie wouldn’t have been bad with a more metal/hard rock type score, it would have made it entirely different in tone. The use of classical keeps the entire film in-keeping with its originality, and fully compliments the action that is occurring on screen.

I wouldn’t say that this is the best movie I’ve ever seen, and it’s not one that has really stuck with me since I watched it. However, if you’re a gore/horror fan, this one will absolutely be up your street.

Battle Royale is sadly not available free to stream, so I rented this one on Rakuten for a mere 99p. You can also rent it on the Sky Store for £3.49 if it’s easier!

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