This parable of organised violence gained unwanted relevance after September 11 but it still retains the power to shock and instruct. Set in Japan in the near future, to curb rising civil unrest, the Government agrees to the staging of Battle Royale, in which a class of teenagers are taken to a remote island, fitted with explosive collars to ensure complicity, supplied with weapons and given three days to kill each other until a single victorious survivor remains.
Zentsuji Middle School is chosen to provide the contestants, who will be overseen by embittered ex-teacher Kitano (Takeshi ‘Beat’ Kitano), now given the chance to exact any revenge he wishes. The pupils react differently: Kiriyama (Masanobu Ando) proves an accomplished psychopath and kills for sport, while Shinji attempts to build a bomb and kill the game’s creators. As unlikely alliances are formed and the body count rises, nobility and integrity arise to balance the bloodshed and subvert the battle…
From Lord of The Flies to The Hunger Games, the dystopian satire has proven its cinematic worth and Fukasuku’s violent thriller is a worthy addition to the genre, from the MTV-style video guide to genocide for dummies to the classical music played over the school’s tannoy, a sense of eerie plausibility prevails, playing on the dominance of computer games, realitv TV and pulp fiction in modern culture.
Presenting the children as expendable – characters and actors swap names throughout, giving them an impermanence as the death toll is counted onscreen – the film naturally falls to Kitano to take control. The actor sports fury, disdain and malevolence. He also provides the moral weight, watching the players every move while waiting for his own moment of perfect redemption.
Japan | 114 minutes | 2000
Director: Kenji Fukasuku
Writers: Kenta Fukasuku (from the novel by Koshun Takami)
Takeshi Kitano as Kitano
Tsuyako Kinoshita as Mizuho Inada (Girls #1)
Eri Ishikawa as Yukie Utsumi (Girl #2)
Sayaka Ikeda as Megumi Eto (Girls #3)
Tomomi Shimaki as Sakura Ogawa (Girls #4)
Tamaki Mihara as Izumi Kanai (Girls #5)
Yukari Kanasawa as Yukiko Kitano (Girls #6)
Misao Kato as Yumiko Kusaka (Girls #7)
Takayo Mimura as Kayoko Kotôhiki (Girl #8)
Hitomi Hyuga as Yuko Sakaki (Girls #9)
Anna Nagata as Hirono Shimizu (Girls #10)
Kou Shibasaki as Mitsuko Souma (Girl #11)
Satomi Ishii as Mitsuko Souma (Girls #12)
Chiaki Kuriyama as Takako Chigusa (Girl #13)
Haruka Nomiyama as Mayumi Tendo (Girls #14)
Aki Maeda as Noriko Nakagawa (Girl #15)
Satomi Hanamura as Yuka Nakagawa (Girls #16)
Sayaka Kamiya as Satomi Noda (Girl #17)
Aki Inoue as Fumiyo Fujiyôshi (Girl #18)
Asami Kanai as Chisato Matsui (Girls #19)
Mai Sekiguchi as Kaori Minami (Girl #20)
Takako Baba as Yoshimi Yahagi (Girls #21)
Shin Kusaka as Yoshio Akamatsu (Boys #1)
Ren Matsuzawa as Keita Îjima (Boy #2)
Shigehiro Yamaguchi as Toshinori Oda (Boys #4)
Taro Yamamoto as Shogo Kawada (Boy #5)
Masanobu Ando as Kazuo Kiriyama (Boy #6)
Yukihiro Kotani as Yôshitoki Kuninobu (Boy #7)
Sousuke Takaoka as Hiroki Sugimura (Boy #11)
Yutaka Shimada as Yûtaka Seto (Boy #12)
Tatsuya Fujiwara as Shuya Nanahara (Boy #15)
Hirohito Honda as Kazushi Nîda (Boy #16)
Yousuke Shibata as Mitsuru Numai (Boys #17)
Takashi Tsukamoto as Shinji Mimura (Boy #19)
Jirô Nitta as Kyôichi Motobuchi (Boy #20)
Yasuomi Sano as Kazuhiko Yamamoto (Boys #21)
Yuko Miyamura as Training Video Girl
Kazutoshi Yokoyama as Basketball referee
Minami as Keiko
Yuuki Masuda as Hiroshi Kuronaga (Boys #9)
Shigeki Hirokawa as Shô Tsukioka (Boys #14)
Ai Iwamura as Onna no hito – won last Battle Royale
Ai Maeda as Shiori – Kitano no aijô (voice)
Michi Yamamura as Reporter
Takeyuki Hirai as Soldier
Tomu Asakawa as Soldier
Yûya Nakahara as Soldier
Takashi Komori as Soldier
Ryôta Nakamura as Soldier
Akihiro Ugajin as Soldier
Yôichi Murakami as Soldier
Tsuguharu Niizaki as Soldier
Jun’ichi Nashiki as Soldier
Hiroshi Kitagawa as Soldier
Hideaki Kawashima as Soldier
Umiji Tasaki as Soldier
Hidetsugu Okumura as Soldier
Daisuke Yazawa as Soldier
Nobuki Baba as Soldier
Naoki Iwasawa as Soldier
Kôji Tokuhisa as Soldier
Mikiya Sanada as Soldier
Kazuhiro Yokokura as Soldier
Shigeki Homma as Soldier
Kazuo Araki as Soldier
Gôshi Matsuhara as Soldier
Akira Yoshizawa as Soldier
Kenzo Shirahama as Soldier
Kanji Okumura as Soldier
Shôji Takano as Soldier
Ryouji Sugimoto as Soldier
Hajime Yoneda as Soldier
Hideaki Kojima as Soldier
Gou Ryugawa as Lieutenant Anjo
Ken Nakaide as Hayashida-san – Teacher Class 3B
Kanako Fukaura as Basugaido
Shiro Go as Ryûhei Sasagawa (Boys #10)
Gouki Nishimura as Tatsumichi Ôki (Boys #3)
Osamu Ohnishi as Yôji Kuramoto (Boys #8)
Satoshi Yokomichi as Tadakatsu Hatagami (Boys #18)
Junichi Naitou as Yûichiro Takiguchi (Boys #13)
Mitsuaki Tachikawa as Soldier
Takashi Taniguchi as Shuya’s Father
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