Before "The Hunger Games" brought us into a world where children murder each other for entertainment, we had "Battle Royale". The world of THG differs from BR (aside from the obvious USA vs Japan element) in that while The Hunger Games were a result of a political upheaval, Battle Royale comes from a social one. The government of Japan decides that the youth are too wild, too disrespectful, too out of control. In order to strike fear in their hearts, they create the Battle Royale, a yearly competition where a group of children are stranded on an island, with the winner being the last one alive.

The Hunger Games series takes advantage of a much deeper story, stretching plots across four films. Characters are fleshed out further, motivations are revealed, things are just much more complex. Battle Royale skips most of that and just beats you over the head with blood and violence and carnage. Both approaches have their merits - if you want to understand characters, go to THG; if you just want kids shooting and stabbing eachother, go to BR.

I really can't complain about much about this movie. I was initially distracted a bit because the actor who plays the adult in charge to monitoring the kids is the same guy from Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, so in my head I kept hearing lines from that show pop up. The other thing was that starting the group off with 42 kids meant very few were going to get any real screen time, which made a majority of the deaths less impactful. The first Hunger Games movie actually went through the same, with some characters simply dying off-screen. This is also a bit nit-picky and/or xenocentric, but I had a bit of trouble following some of the characters because there was a trio of girls named Yuko, Yukie and Yuka, other characters seemed to bounce between being referred to by first or last name...maybe if I was a Japanese native this wouldn't have even been worth mentioning, but there were a few times I was confused as to who was alive or who was forming an alliance or what.

Without all those detail-oriented things, the movie was solid. The violence was way more graphic than Hunger Games, the action was fun, the acting was good enough for a bunch of kids.

The Hunger Games boiled down to a political revolution, fighting back against an oppressive government. Without spoiling the end of Battle Royale, there's less of a big motivating moment, and actually ends on something of a down note.



On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, "Battle Royale" gets a 7 out of 10.




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