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Battle Royale II: Requiem
cast: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Ai Maeda, Shugo Oshinari, Ayana Sakai, and Riki Takeuchi

directors: Kinji Fukasaku, Kenta Fukasaku

133 minutes (18) 2003
widescreen ratio 1.77:1
Tartan Asia Extreme DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 5/10
reviewed by Emma French
Prolific director Kinji Fukasaku died during the filming of Battle Royale II, and the film was completed and edited by his son Kenta Fukasaku. Unfortunately, the result is a jumbled sequel to the excellent original Battle Royale that will disappoint most fans of the franchise.

An extremely bloody addition to the growing stable of 'Japsploitation' movies, the basic premise is very simple. A group of 42 delinquent students are tricked into thinking they are on a school outing and transported to an army barracks where they are coerced into travelling to an island to fight the 'terrorist' Shuya Nanahara (played by Tatsuya Fujiwara), and assassinate him. The background story about global terrorism does not really work, although the opening sequence of Armageddon in downtown Tokyo is one of the film's few highlights.

The film's subtext is rabidly anti-American: it ends in a post-apocalyptic Afghanistan; one character enunciates a list of the nations the US has bombed in the last 20 years not once but twice in equally irrelevant and tedious contexts. The film's politics is rendered more comprehensible by the fact that Kinji Fukasaku lived through the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagazaki, but the intrusions of his ideology on the narrative is clumsy and baffling.

Countless bodies pile up in noisy, chaotic, over-stylised sequences. The brutalised teens also look suspiciously glossy and attractive. They are reminiscent of the youth in Tokyo's Harajuku, who dress and make up in 'car accident chic' with fake bandages and blood, but bear little resemblance to people who have been shelled and shot at over a period of days. Many of them have a distracting penchant for absurd grimacing. Shuya Nanahara, sole survivor of the previous film's conflict, plays his part well, but the rest of the performances are maudlin and average. The blaring, melodramatic music is successful at times in creating a sort of rock opera ambience, but far more often is simply irritating.

Battle Royale II suffers from a surfeit of lingering death scenes. By the time yet another student, Haruka Kuze, bites the dust halfway through the film, it is hard to care very much. The violence is profoundly desensitising, and many of the deaths are (un-) intentionally comical. At over two and a half hours, the film is also at least an hour too long. A dull sequence in which a girl plays a piano during various superfluous flashbacks is one of many that should inhabit a deleted scenes section on the DVD.

Extras in the DVD package are equally uninspired, consisting of director biographies and statements, the original trailer, and an Asia Extreme trailer reel. The director biographies and statements are just static reams of text to be scrolled through, and the trailers cannot really be deemed an exciting part of the package. The film leaves the way open at the end for a third instalment, but on the basis of this film it is not likely to attract many viewers.

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