When even schoolchildren begin to abuse a system on the verge of social collapse, the Japanese government introduces a strict new punishment whereby randomly chosen students are taken to a deserted island and forced to fight each other to the death.
Based on the controversial and popular novel of the same name, Battle Royale takes place in an alternate timeline where the Japanese government collapsed, for some unknown reason. A 15% unemployment level (ha, 15%! That’s so cute. Why don’t you talk to Spain or Greece about your fictional recession?) leads to hundreds of thousands of students boycotting school and soaring juvenile crime rates. Because the grownups now fear and resent the youth, they pass what is know as the Battle Royale Act. Every year, one school class is chosen at random and forced to fight to the death. Because…reasons. Our story follows freshmen class 3B, who along with two “transfer students” (total ringers) are brought to an island and told their fate. They are given supplies, some weapons and collars that will detonate if you don’t move out of certain zones (or have a single winner by the end of the 3 days). The students react in different ways – some accept the situation (some enthusiastically, most reluctantly), while others refuse to kill and attempt to beat the system and outsmart their captors.
Chiaki Kuriyama as Takako Chigusa
If you watch Japanese films, there should be quite a few famous and familiar faces. But if you don’t (the only Japanese movies I tend to watch have animated people, so, doesn’t really help me here), then there won’t really be anyone you recognize. The one notable exception being actress Chiaki Kuriyama, who plays Takako Chigusa and was later cast as the satanic school girl Gogo in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill. Rumor has it Tarantino more or less wrote the part for her, because he was such a huge fan of Battle Royale.
Couch-Sharing Capability: Non-Squeamish Friends Only
Every who sees this movie needs to know the basic plot and set up before diving in. The last thing you want to have is a situation where one member of the viewing party has an aversion to violence and gore. And then they spend the whole time in shock and horror that you enjoy this violent/made them watch it. I probably haven’t dealt with one of those types of people in years, but it seems like a fair warning to make, particularly with this movie. Movie buzzkills must check their prudishness at the door!
Recommended Level of Inebriation: Low to None
Looks, there are subtitles here. I don’t know about you, but I can barely keep up with subtitles on a good day. Add alcohol to the mix and it’s all over. And with so many characters, and dim lighting, you are going to need your brain and movie watching skills functioning at top capacity to follow along.
Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Essential
I’m glad to say this movie still holds up, though I suppose I’m not quite as impressed or awed with it as I was when I first watched it back in high school. I’ve spent the last decade on a steady diet of fictional dystopias and gory movies, so it doesn’t make quite the impact it once did. On the other hand, I had totally forgotten its funny parts and how amazingly cheeseball it could be at times (but it the best way). If you have somehow managed to avoid Battle Royale for all these years, then it is essential you rectify that gross oversight immediately. And with it on Instant, there are zero excuses. Because this movie is basically required viewing around these parts.