Battle Royale (2000)

Battle Royale takes place in one of those ridiculous futures that only exist to set up the preposterous premise of the movie.

A law known as Battle Royale has been enacted in Japan and every year, one class of school kids is chosen by a random lottery to participate. The class of delinquent teens is dumped off on a deserted island and told to kill each other off until there is only one survivor.

To keep things chugging along, all the little twerps have these collars on them that seem to only exist in these bogus futureshock movies. You know the kind – it allows the kids to be listened to and tracked. They also have a bomb inside of them that can be detonated by HQ whenever the kids get out of control.

To spice things up even further, the kids are each given a bag of supplies, including map, compass, water, and a weapon. Each bag has a different weapon in it, some more useful than others. When you see the kid pull the lid from a pot out of his bag, you immediately regret that you dumped a sawbuck on him with your bookie.

Beat Takeshi stars as the teacher who is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. Beat is a puffy, middle-aged dude with a scarred up face, who limps around a lot, but he’s got that coolly distant and disinterested look that Americans always seem to admire. In fact, a lot of the movie he spends lying around in his ugly-ass sweat suit eating the cookies that this ninth grader he has a crush on made. How much cooler (or American) can you get?

Beat has a little trouble relating to the kids in class because during one of the opening scenes in the movie, some punk knifes him for no apparent reason. Later it would be revealed that Beat also has problems at home. (Obsessing about schoolgirls while lying around in your sweat pants probably isn’t the best way to keep the wife happy.)

Even though Beat is on worker’s comp, recovering from his stab wound, he is apparently plotting his revenge. Now, I know that this is all done by random lottery, but I can’t help but think that Beat made this lottery a little less random than it was supposed to be.

The kids in his class are all going on a field trip and are gassed to sleep, taken to an island, and when they awake they find Beat there surrounded by Japanese military officials.

Despite Beat showing off the body of the wimpy substitute teacher filling in for him while he was on leave, the kids don’t seem to realize their predicament because they are still mouthing off to Beat. Beat gives them a review lesson on the school’s disciplinary procedures when he cusses them out, pushes one girl around and gets mad and throws a knife clear across the room into the forehead of another girl, dropping her insolent butt on the spot!

Then they all watch a video with a really perky hostess who explains the concept of Battle Royale and all the rules. Beat even takes the opportunity to demonstrate the death dealing power of the necklaces they’re all wearing, blowing up some kid’s neck that he didn’t like. At this point, I realized this movie was really going to deliver on its promise to kill forty kids in spectacular fashion and I was hooked!

Once the kids get their bags of supplies and run out into the night, the rest of the movie is a big game of “who do you trust?” Are the alliances offered for real or just a ruse to get you close enough to kill?

The movie then details the different fates of those involved in the game. Some kids take to this wanton killing/survival of the fittest stuff a little better than others.

There are also two transfer students that we learn are basically ringers. One of them is Kiriyama, a dude so twisted he actually signed up voluntarily for the Battle Royale!

The other ringer is Kawada. He’s a Battle Royale survivor from three years ago who was drugged and taken to this game to rig things. (I suppose to make sure none of Beat’s student’s survive. Man, is he a tough teacher!)

He befriends Shuya and Norika, a boy and a girl who are just trying to survive. Norika is also the girl that Beat wants to date or something because he takes time out from broadcasting over the loud speaker the list of dead classmates to walk out in the rain into the woods to give her an umbrella. I thought that was nice of him, especially since he stole the cookies she baked for the class trip.

The movie paces things nicely and realizes that it’s going to be kind of hard to know all forty of these kids by the end of things, so after each kill, the movie lists out the kid’s sex, class number, and name as being dead and how many survivors are still around.

At the end, it seems that Kiriyama has just been using Shuya and Norika to assure his own survival, but there’s still some double-crossing left in everyone. It involves a final confrontation with Beat, a water gun, and this really awful picture that Beat has been drawing since the Battle Royale begin.

Some of the characters here are given enough screen time (the three protagonists mostly) that you actually want to see them survive and they’re fleshed out with some well done flashbacks, but the movie is really just about stylistically executed mindless slaughter though so don’t expect any depth of consequence.

Ultimately, it’s the kind of entertainment that you might feel a little guilty enjoying if teenagers were actually well-mannered and respectful and we all weren’t thankfully already desensitized to rampant and senseless violence.

© 2016 MonsterHunter

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