DVD review: "Battle Royale"

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

"At the dawn of the Millennium, Japan's nation collapsed. At 15 percent unemployment, 10 million were out of work, 800,000 students boycotted school. The adults lost confidence, and fearing the youth, eventually passed the 'Millennium Educational Reform Act' ... aka The BR Act."

The Battle Royale Act.

Overseen by their former teacher, Kitano, the act requires that a randomly chosen school class be taken to a deserted island and forced to fight each other to the death. They have three days to finish each other off. After the three days, if there's more than one survivor, the collars they have around their necks will explode. The Act dictates that the one surviving pupil be allowed to return home, not as the victor, but as the ultimate proof of the lengths to which the government is prepared to go to curb the tide of juvenile disobedience.

One Dead. 41 to go.

Japan's filmmakers are far less hesitant to put things on the screen that would be deemed unreleaseable in the United States.

This is the most controversial film I've ever seen (but I have yet to see "Cannibal Holocaust"). It's not the gore and violence, it's the fact that it's 15-year-olds killing 15-year-olds.

We see plenty of high-schoolers and college students get sliced and diced on American screens by masked maniacs. But never them killing each other.

Whether we're still sore from Columbine or not, there seems to be an unspoken rule about the age limit that characters can kill or be killed on screen for American movies, which probably explains why "BR" possesses a lot of extra shock value to Americans.

Lesson 1: 3 days to battle

Lesson 2: Only one can survive.

Lesson 3: Kill your Best Friend.

I highly recommend this film. It may be hard to find but it will definitely be worth the search.

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