Mar 02 - Mar 30, 2012
Kinji Fukasaku, Japan, Blu-ray, 114 min
An instant classic when it debuted in 2000, and the final complete directorial effort of the legendary Kinji Fukasaku, Battle Royale is a jarring, jaw-dropping look at a future Japan where a group of 42 largely delinquent ninth-graders are chosen through a governmental lottery to kill each other off. The reason? To reduce crime and a general lack of respect by the youth in the country. Sound insane? Not as crazy as the in-your-face, unflinching manner in which Fukasaku toys with taboos and breaks the rules by graphically showing the death sport while also making us care about the many, varied personalities involved. Teacher Kitano (Takeshi Kitano, in a fun, brutally frank role) oversees the latest bout. Some kids are psychopaths, while others garner our sympathy. But just like highlanders, there can ultimately only be one…who will win the Battle Royale?
Battle Royale first opened in Japan in 2000 but did not have a full American theatrical release at the time, in part due to the aftermath of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado. The film did get DVD releases in Great Britain, Hong Kong, and other regions at the time.