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Battle Royale
cast: Takeshi 'Beat' Kitano, Fujiwara Tatsuya, Maeda Aki, and Yamamoto Taro

director: Kinji Fukasaku

109 minutes (18) 2001
widescreen ratio 16:9
Tartan NTSC DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
In a future Japan where most teenagers are out of control, a strange new means of teaching them respect is devised. A school class is picked at random, stranded on a remote island with an assortment of weapons, and told to kill each other until only one is left. The survivor gets to go home. It isn't long before friendship and morals fall by the wayside; but the teacher who nominated them, a victim of classroom violence, is beginning to have second thoughts too...
   There are obvious flaws in the conception - surely rewarding the survivor for committing mass murder would increase teen violence, not reduce it - but it's the situation the teenagers find themselves in that matters, not how they got there. The film is hugely successful at exploring how quickly normal kids disintegrate in the face of brutal exploitation. Though the sheer number of characters is bewildering to begin with, they're quickly whittled down, and the story ultimately focuses around an audacious scheme to outwit their captors.
   The brutality of the violence is suitably shocking, and the misunderstanding and mistrust that destroys many of the characters gives the film an ironic edge. In the end, Battle Royale really has nothing new to say about the moral disintegration of society, but it recycles an old message very effectively, as a teen slasher movie with a disturbing difference.
   DVD extras: gallery, filmographies, original trailer, film notes by Mark Wyatt, animated menus, 20 chapters.
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