Directed by: Kinji Fukasaku
Written by: Kenta Fukasaku (screenplay), Koushun Takami (novel)
Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Chiaki Kuriyama, and Reiko Kataoka
The age old question “What would you do to stay alive?” has been explored to death. A unique take on an old adage is always welcome, and Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale hoped to deliver that. Does it succeed? Kind of.
In a futuristic vision of Japan, the children are too unruly. So, a classroom of 40 children is selected at random each year to partake in a brutal three day free-for-all on an island until only one remains. If more than one remains, the collars placed around their necks will detonate. Then the survivor returns to the country, striking fear into the others with their stories of the horror.
This is a film that could be analyzed to death by philosophers and historians as to what exactly it means in the context of Japanese history. Is it an allegory to Japan’s involvement in World War II? Is it a statement about individualism in a country that is notoriously solidified and stubborn in combat? It’s both, and they kind of mesh, which is why the film could be looked at so deeply.