Sunday, 16 June 2013

An Extreme World - Battle Royale

When talking about Asian cinema, Japan is pretty hard to ignore. With directors leaving their mark with crazy storylines, awesome gore and twisted humour that makes us rub our eyes in disbelieve and ask ourselves, "what the hell am I watching?!" it's easy to see why J-horror is so popular. Now I'm a fan of more sensible stuff, things need to be on the right side of bonkers for me to enjoy but one film I enjoy again and again and features some disturbing and graphic imagery without being absurd is Battle Royale.

Battle Royale - Japan

Directed By - Kinji Fukasaku
Starring - Takeshi Kitano, Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda.

Based off a popular Japanese manga, Battle Royale is set in the near future. Petty crime is common place and the youth of the country and wild and unruly. To deal with the problem the "Battle Royale Law" was created. The law states that each year a class of children, in their final year of schooling will be put on an island, given a bag with a weapon and some essentials and the last one standing will win. How do they win? By killing each other!

I've not long discovered Battle Royale. I went out as soon as I'd seen it while it was showing on Lovefilm instant and bought it. The story is basic, a simple kill or be killed story made fresh with side stories of love, friendship and betrayal. The film follows Nanahara and his friend, who is apparently in love with him (along with every other girl in the class apparently) Noriko. They are joined by an older boy, Kawada, who later reveals how he has played before and was the survivor. The only villains are Kiriyama, a bat shit crazy kid who volunteered for the game who silently blows one student away after another without feeling and Kitano- Sensei played by the fantastic Takashi Kitano. Kitano is the life and soul of this film. He's funny, bitter and sometimes moving. A deep sadness hides behind those eyes and it is revealed later on why.

The acting in this film is ridiculous. The characters that matter and are well acted and their lines well written. Otherwise it's hammy, over the top and sometimes just blatantly funny. Somehow, Battle Royale gets away with it! Usually bad acting will ruin a film for me but strangely, it enriches it and gives it a little more body. It doesn't take itself too seriously and I love it for that reason!

Cinematography is stunning. Wide and long shots of the beautiful scenery splattered with the blood of children. The score is perfect, a range of well known classical music. Almost unsettling given the violence that is going on. What makes it extreme is not it's graphic visuals but the way the film is showing children killing children. What is more senseless? The fact its entertaining seeing young people shooting and slashing at each other unsettles me.

Battle Royale isn't flawless. It's fun, violent, gory and has a re-watch factor which makes it worth every penny. The least extreme in the series and some might say it doesn't fit in with the likes of Martyrs but hey, I think its a pretty violent and extreme flick, maybe the best gateway drug there is before taking on the more extreme titles. I know it was mine!

My rating.

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