Hello my friends. Though this might seem like a posting spurred by my love for The Hunger Games, it actually has more to do with my vice of impulse buying. Yes, I am one of those people who if I see something I want, and I have the cash on me, I will be leaving with said item/desire. I recently went to Barnes and Nobles for Easter presents, you got me it was last-minute but in my defense I was sick for over a week and still am, and stumbled on the Blu-Ray of Battle Royale for 40+10% off! Well I just had to buy it immediately! And so, that brings me here, to my review of a definite stand out movie for Japan: Battle Royale.
This was not my first viewing of Battle Royale. I actually watched it my freshman year of college with my friend Andrew via the college computer lab. Had they known what we were watching I am sure there would have been quite a stir, but we were in luck, the attendants were people our age who just text a lot and quite honestly didn’t get off their chair 90% of the time… but I digress. That was the first time I saw it, and fell in love with the story and cinematography. Would a second viewing, and now owning of said movie change my feelings over it?
Are you crazy?! Its Battle Royale! HECK NO! I loved it, from start to finish. How Takeshi Kitano never won an award I have no idea. The man is an acting genius. He played the quiet, but definitely insane former, and now present teacher of the class. Don’t think you know who he is? Fear not, for I am sure you have seen Takeshi’s Castle, better known here as Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, or MXC for short. Yes that is really him. Shocking considering how different his demeanor is in this movie. Kitano is just brilliant and his pacing for delivery is spot on in every scene.
Now for those of you that are not aware, I hate gore. Hate isn’t actually powerful enough of a word. Hmm… Actually, I cannot think of anything more powerful, sorry still sick! However, when used properly, in the right setting, it is extremely effective. In Battle Royale the gore is used to solidify how disgusting and shocking this whole plot is, and it works. Case in point, when Kitano is slashed in the beginning you see very little blood because he is a teacher. Fast forward what is the next violent scene? A student getting a knife thrown at her forehead then pulled out of her skull. One dead, 41 to go. The next scene is an exploding collar. One of the most important things in any form of entertainment that involves violence is that you don’t outdo yourself too soon. You never should follow a shooting with a stabbing because it demeans what happened already, you peaked too early. Look at the pacing and how important it is in the movie. You get a light slash, then a huge stab, then an explosion. It is purposefully done so you slowly go into the shock of “My God, these are young kids! This just became real.”, and it is the most important tool a horror, thriller, action director can have. Once your audience is shocked, you cannot pull them back so easily, it will take most of the movie to re-sensitize (I think I just made my own word) them if you make a mistake and most movies do not have the time. This is why I love Argento and Hitchcock movies because they understand pacing and suspense in the way most American directors do not.
Throughout the movie you slowly understand where the students are coming from and even the most violent students, sans the voluntary killer, become humanized. Now, I do feel the students are overacting at some points, and indeed a lot of them were not exactly ready for how important or popular this movie would become but, in this setting and for this particular movie, it almost works in their favor. At the time, this was the most contemporary commentary of Lord of the Flies we had. Think about it. If you were in middle school or high school who could you really trust? And if you could trust them, how strong is that trust?
A wonderful concept that was masterfully realized on the big screen. The Blu-Ray is crisp and clear which is what I have come to expect from the format. The sound quality is actually above average which was a nice surprize. Though I do excuse most of it, some of the children’s acting in it did throw the movie off a bit, so this gets a grade of A. Which means go watch it; wait no go buy it people!