When Quentin Tarantino (one of the greatest directors and writers of all time) claims that Battle Royale is the only film in the last 20 years he wishes he’d made, it should be incentive enough to drop whatever you’re doing and watch it. Full of innocent, eager, bright eyed students who are forced into savagely murdering their peers before the allotted time expires. Battle Royale puts a surprisingly political twist on gore and horror. Directed by Kinji Fukasaku and featuring a youthful ensemble soaked in blood and armed to the teeth, Battle Royale is as fun as it is painful to watch. Battle Royale is a “how to” video on violence and murder.
A group of ninth-grade students from a Japanese high school are forced by legislation to participate in a Battle Royale. Forty-two students enter and have three days on a secluded island to be dwindled down to one. Each participant is given a bag at random filled with various weapons and supplies, the luck of the draw is crucial. If the students refuse to murder their classmates or a single survivor is not crowned by the end of the given time, a collar rigged with explosives will detonate and kill all remaining combatants. As the battle rages, it is clear that some will use whatever tactics needed in order to survive, while others simply cave in to their morals.
Battle Royale is not a horror so much as it is horrifying to watch. Most of the time it’s not even the killing or severed flesh that gets to you. While you’re watching these combatants tear each other apart, you find yourself thinking about how quickly the kids turn on one another and the psychological damage the battle inflicts on the participants, let alone the physical toll. The background of the war is a mountainous island that Fukasaku uses in a flawless divergence. There is something that gets under your skin as you’re watching countless murders take place in a spectacular forest or beside an infinite mountain rage with the ocean as a backdrop. Battle Royale is cruel, potent, overwhelming, and should be viewed with caution.