Monday, November 11, 2013

A Battle Royal バトル・ロワイアル

You've likely already heard the rumours — forget what you think you know about The Hunger Games franchise since it's pretty darned blatantly sourced from better film Battle Royale (2000).

Thing is, that's in turn based on Kōshun Takami's 1999 novel, and there's a manga series of Battle Royale that was published from 2000 to 2005, illustrated by Masayuki Taguchi.

But let's get back to the cinematic outing.

This violent, often wildly hilarious — and disturbing — gem is p'raps not quite so obscure now, thirteen years on, as when it was first released in Japan.

Battle Royale would've made a far more fitting obituary for its director Kinji Fukasaku rather than its lesser sequel three years later — which in fact his son Kenta polished off after the director's death at age 72.

You certainly couldn’t take style, content and inspiration any further a field from Fukasaku, Sr.'s earlier adventure schlock-romp Legend Of 8 Samurai.

So clear your frazzled Hunger Games brain.

It’s a not-too-distant future.

Japan is again a fascist state. An arbitrarily-chosen bus full of high school kids are knocked out with sleeping gas, kidnapped, then shipped on to an isolated island — where they’re informed by their embittered former teacher Kitano ('Beat' Takeshi Kitano) that the only way they will leave said island is by killing all their classmates — or by ending up in a body-bag themselves. 

In order to enforce this mandate, each student is shackled with an exploding collar, à la Wedlock, and Kitano punctuates the students’ plight with a well-aimed penknife to one of the girl’s foreheads, thereby launching a battle for self-preservation.