Battle Royale

Earlier this year, I was at the state basketball tournament enjoying our “off” day on Thursday. On my way to the games on Thursday night, I saw a boatload of people waiting in line for a movie. Knowing there was no more Harry Potter’s left and Batman didn’t come out until July, I was stumped at what movie they could possibly be waiting for. A little browsing on my iPhone told me that they were in line for “The Hunger Games” – a little movie I’d never heard of that would go on to gross over $150 million that weekend.

Admitting that I’d never heard of one of the top 3 grossing movies of the year probably isn’t a wise thing for a guy trying to start up a website about movies. Besides, what does The Hunger Games have to do with a slightly under-the-radar 12 year old Japanese movie anyway? The answer, quite simply, is The Hunger Games is a huge rip-off of Japanese film Battle Royale from the year 2000.

Battle Royale is a story about a group of 42 high school students who, because of their growing lack of respect for adults, are forced into playing a game by the government where they must kill each other until only one is left (the movie is based heavily in realism). Each student is assigned a number and given a bag with good, water, a map of the island, and a weapon. Each bag contains a different weapon. In fact the word “weapon” is used loosely for some student as they get a saucepan lid or a paper fan while others get knives, guns, and tracking devices that show them where everyone else is located. Each student also has a collar placed around their necks that monitors their position, their health, and has the ability to detonate and kill the student if they wind up in one of the random “hot zones” that change throughout the day.

The movie is shockingly violent. To say it isn’t for everyone is a huge understatement. I don’t know if I’ve ever even used this term, but Battle Royale contains gratuitous violence. It’s probably on par with some of the harsher scenes you’ve seen in Tarantino movies… there are just far more of them in a two hour movie than I’m used to. In fact, Quentin Tarantino named it as his favorite movie that’s been released since he started directing in 1992.

Despite the violence, I can’t help but agree with (Ahmad Rashad voice) “my main man” QT and say this is a fantastic film. Like I kiddingly joked earlier, the film is not realistic whatsoever. Yet, the reactions between the different cliques of students – some decide to fight, some refuse to fight, some panic and do nothing, and others try to different non-violent methods of getting out.

If you can withstand the violence (have I mentioned that there is plenty), this is a film that I can highly recommend. While I’ve yet to see The Hunger Games, I’m putting the odds at 1,000-to-1 that it’s a better movie than Battle Royale. If you haven’t yet seen The Hunger Games, do yourself a favor and check this one out first. If you (likely) have already seen Hunger Games, go check out the (likely) superior movie that it stole the storyline from.

9.0

out of 10

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09 2012

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