Battle Royale (film)

Infobox Film
name = Battle Royale


director = Kinji Fukasaku
producer = Kenta Fukasaku
Kimio Kataoka
Chie Kobayashi
Toshio Nabeshima
writer = Novel: Koushun Takami Screenplay: Kenta Fukasaku
starring = Tatsuya Fujiwara
Aki Maeda
Taro Yamamoto
Takeshi Kitano
Masanobu Ando
music = Masamichi Amano
cinematography = Katsumi Yanagishima
editing = Hirohide Abe
distributor = Toei
released = flagicon|Japan December 16, 2000
runtime = Theatrical Cut: 114 min.
Special Version: 122 min.
country = flagicon|Japan Japan
language = Japanese
budget = $4,500,000 (estimated)
preceded_by =
followed_by = ""
amg_id = 1:237103
imdb_id = 0266308
nihongo|"Battle Royale"|バトル・ロワイアル|"Batoru Rowaiaru" is a 2000 Japanese film based on the novel of the same name and directed by Kinji Fukasaku. It was written by Kenta Fukasaku, and stars Takeshi Kitano and Tatsuya Fujiwara. The film aroused much controversy.Garger, Ilya. " [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,501030707-461891,00.html Royale Terror] ." "TIME". June 30, 2003.] [Ito, Robert. " [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/09/movies/09ito.html?_r=1&oref=slogin Lesson Plan: Kill or Be Killed] ." "The New York Times". July 9, 2006.]

A sequel, "", followed. The music soundtracks for both movies were composed, arranged and conducted by Masamichi Amano, performed by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and features pieces of real classical music with some original composition. The choral classical music used as the film's main theme music is "Dies Irae" from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Requiem.

Production

Creative process

Kinji Fukasaku stated that the novel reminded him of his time as a 15-year old munitions factory worker, so he decided to create the film adaptation. When he was 15 years old, Fukasaku's class was drafted, and he worked as a munitions worker during World War II. In July 1945, the class was caught in artillery fire. Since the children could not escape artillery fire, they had to dive under each other in order to survive. The surviving members of the class had to dispose of the corpses. Fukasaku realized that the Japanese government lied about World War II at that point; Fukasaku had a burning hatred of adults in general for a long time.cite web |url=http://web.archive.org/web/20021205020037/www.battleroyalethemovie.com/staff.htm|title= Director's statement at the Internet Archive|accessdate=2006-12-30 ]

When asked in an interview with "The Midnight Eye" if the film is "a warning or advice to the youth," Kinji Fukasaku responded by describing the words "warning" and "advice" as "sounding very strong to me" as if they were actions which one tries to accomplish; therefore the film would not be "particularly a warning or advice." Fukasaku explained that the film, which he describes as "a fable," includes themes, such as crime by young people, which in Japan "are very much real modern issues." Fukasaku said that he did not have a lack of concern or a lack of interest; he used the themes as part of his fable. When the intereviewer told Fukasaku that he asked the question specifically because of the word "run," the end text, which the intereviewer describes as "very positive." Fuksaku explained that he developed the concept throughout the film. Fukasaku interpreted the interviewer's question as having "a stronger meaning" than "a simple message." Fukasaku explained that the film has his "words to the next generation" so the viewer should decide whether to take the words as advice or as a warning." [http://www.midnighteye.com/interviews/kinji_fukasaku.shtml Kinji Fukasaku] ", "Midnight Eye"]

Ratings

Kinji Fukasaku originally opposed the R15 rating given by the Eiga Rinri Kanri Iinkai (Eirin) because of Fukasaku's experiences as a teenager, the novel's use of 15-year olds, and the fact that many of the actors were around fifteen years of age. After he submitted an appeal and before Eiga Rinri Kanri Iinkai could rule on the appeal, members of the Diet of Japan said that the film harmed teenagers; the Diet members also criticized the film industry ratings, which were a part of self-regulation by the Japanese film industry. Fukasaku dropped the appeal to oppose the Japanese Diet.

Plot

The plot of the film is fairly faithful to that of the novel, with a few key differences. The prologue is as follows:

:"At the dawn of the millennium, the nation collapsed. At fifteen percent unemployment, ten million were out of work. 800,000 students boycotted school. The adults lost confidence, and fearing the youth, eventually passed the Millennium Educational Reform Act - AKA: The BR Act..."

The film centers around Shuya Nanahara (Tatsuya Fujiwara), a charismatic young boy living in Kanagawa Prefecture. After his mother abandons him and his father commits suicide, he becomes disillusioned with life. The rest of his classmates are similarly disillusioned, and have little respect for authority. Shuya's best friend, Yoshitoki "Nobu" Kuninobu (Yukihiro Kotani), attacks their ench (principal) Kitano (Takeshi Kitano), but runs away before he can be identified. Noriko Nakagawa (Aki Maeda), a sweet, reserved young girl who happens to witness the incident, hides the knife that Nobu has just attacked Kitano with. Kitano, frustrated, resigns.

The next year, as the students are nearing the end of their compulsory education, they embark on a class trip. On the bus the entire class is gassed, kidnapped, taken to an isolated island, and fitted with electronic collars. Once there, the students are shocked to find that they are inside an abandoned school, and that Kitano (along with the government) is behind the entire operation. Kitano informs them that they have been selected as participants in Battle Royale, a game created by the Millennial Educational Reform Act (better known as the Battle Royale Act) where the students must kill each other until only one is left. One class from the country per year is selected to participate in the program. If after three days a winner is not declared, the explosive collars attached to each student's neck will be detonated. The collars also prevent the students entering certain areas of the field of participation, the "danger zones," the idea being to force students to encounter one another. (These instructions are delivered by a cute, smiling girl via a video, who behaves like a kindergarten teacher and refers to herself as their "big sister".) After killing a student, Fumiyo Fujiyoshi, for whispering, Kitano also detonates Nobu's collar, killing him. One by one, each student leaves the school, having been provided with survival packs and a random weapon.

The students split. Some of them go into groups, while others stay on their own. A mute boy who signed up for fun named Kazuo Kiriyama, whose weapon is a paper fan, manages to kill a large group of students and goes around the island by himself, killing without remorse. Also willing to kill is Mitsuko Souma, who has taken it upon herself to win the game, using everything she has at her disposal, especially her sexuality.

Some students refuse to play the game. Shuya, grieving over Nobu's death, decides to take it upon himself to protect Noriko, the object of Nobu's affection. Elsewhere, class president Yukie Utsumi (Eri Ishikawa) gathers up a group of girls and decides to hide in an abandoned lighthouse, while junior revolutionary Shinji Mimura (Takashi Tsukamoto) gathers his friends and plans to hack the system and blow up the school (along with Kitano), thereby liberating the students.

Other students accept their fate. While some commit suicide, a student named Hiroki Sugimura (Sousuke Takaoka) decides to make the best of his final hours, and seeks out his best friend, Takako Chigusa (Chiaki Kuriyama), and the girl he loves, Kayoko Kotohiki (Takayo Mimura).

The film's main plot focuses on Shuya and Noriko. They eventually run into Shogo Kawada, a seasoned warrior and Kobe native with an agenda. They witness Kiriyama murder Yumiko Kusaka and Yukiko Kitano, who were trying to call for peace, and Kawada runs off. Later, they run into Kawada again when they stumble upon his hideout. Kawada lets them in and reveals that he is out to avenge the death of his girlfriend, Keiko Onuki, who sacrificed herself for him in a previous game. However, when Kiriyama kills Toshinori Oda outside the building (earning himself a bulletproof vest), Shuya tries to kill Kiriyama and only survives due to Hiroki Sugimura intervening while Shuya escapes. Sugimura then brings Shuya to the lighthouse where the girls are hiding out.

Shuya wakes up bandaged in the lighthouse, where many of the girls are hiding. Yuko Sakaki poisons a bowl of soup meant for Shuya. When Yuka Nakagawa is instead killed by the poison, all of the girls begin to distrust each other and they all kill each other, except Sakaki, who commits suicide over the guilt of killing her friend. An injured Shuya grabs all of the guns and begins looking for Noriko. Elsewhere, Noriko is confronted by Mitsuko, but Kitano scares her off and she meets up again with Shuya.

As the game continues and only a few students are left, Sugimura finds Kotohiki, the girl he loves, hiding in a warehouse. She kills him, thinking he is a threat, and is shortly after killed by Mitsuko. Kiriyama then arrives at the warehouse and kills Mitsuko. Elsewhere, Mimura and his friends have hacked into the system and are ready to blow up the school. Kiriyama shows up at the scene, killing everyone and raising his kill count to twelve, but not before Mimura manages to blow up the bomb, leaving Kiriyama blinded as Shuya, Noriko and Kawada arrive on the scene. Kawada confronts Kiriyama, who even while blinded, manages to shoot him a few times before Kawada shoots his collar, killing him, leaving only Shuya, Noriko and Kawada on the island.

Kawada then reveals that he knows how to disable the collars, and fakes Shuya's and Noriko's deaths. Declared the winner, Kawada treks to the school. Kitano has since declared the operation a success, and is the only one there. Kawada confronts Kitano, and is soon joined by Shuya and Noriko. Kitano is unsurprised to see that Shuya and Noriko have survived, having realised Kawada's plan. He reveals that he had hoped that Noriko would survive, as his daughter, Shiori, hates him - he sees Noriko as the daughter he never had. Not wanting to return home, he orders Noriko to kill him. Shuya eventually does when Kitano threatens Noriko with a gun, which is revealed as he falls to be a water pistol. Following a final conversation with Shiori, over the phone, in which he tells her one must accept the consequences of hating someone, he dies.

The remaining trio escapes the island on a boat, but Kawada succumbs to his wounds and dies after teaching Shuya how to pilot the boat. As he dies, he reveals that in Shuya and Noriko he accomplished his goal of discovering why Keiko sacrificed herself for him - she, like he now, had finally found true friends and was willing to give up her life for them. Shuya and Noriko make it to land, where they become fugitives wanted for murder. Together, they go on the run.

Differences between the original book and the film

Differences between the original book include (though are not limited to):
*The program administrator's name and personality are different - the subplot of Kitano's family and his love for Noriko is not present in Kinpatsu Sakamochi - the equivalent character - in the novel. Additionally, Sakamochi had no previous relationship with the class, and is significantly more sadistic than Kitano.
*Kazuo Kiriyama is a transfer student in the film (playing voluntarily), whereas in the novel he was a member of the class. He also occasionally smiles sadistically, which his novel and manga counterparts are incapable of, suggesting the brain damage preventing him from feeling emotion in the novel is not present. Kazuo in the film does not however speak on any occasion, though he does in the novel. In the movie, one gets the impression that Kazuo is nothing but a cold-blooded sadistic killer, while in the novel several things imply that he is suffering from pseudo-psychopathic personality disorder due to the brain injury he got from a car crash/in utero (in the manga/novel, respectively). His inability to feel emotion, empathy and to know right from wrong are some things that suggests this theory. For example, in the novel he says that he let a coin decide whenever he should fight back against the government or participate in the game.
*Mitsuko's killing of Hirono Shimizu in the film - as opposed to Toshinori Oda killing Hirono in the novel - replaces a scene in the book in which Hiroki confronts Mitsuko over Chigusa's death shortly before he locates Kotohiki, though she escapes him.
*In the film, Kazuo does not kill Mizuho Inada, and Hirono does not kill Kaori Minami. Instead, Mizuho and Kaori form a team and kill each other over a life preserver.
*The film depicts the students as residents of the Kanagawa Prefecture, as Mimura's postcard reveals a mailing address in the name of "Mr. Sinji Mimura" in Kanagawa Prefecture. With the exception of Shogo Kawada, most students in the film speak Kantō ben, the dialect of the Eastern Kantō region, which includes Kanagawa. The novel and manga set Shiroiwa in the rural Kagawa Prefecture, on Shikoku island.
*Various students start with different weapons and die in different manners. Almost every student is given a background in the novel, whereas only the significant characters receive them in the film.
*The 'victory' deadline is changed from the book; in the film, the students are given three days to win, while in the book, the only deadline is that at least one student be killed every twenty-four hours. Further, only one class participates per year in the film, whereas it is fifty in the novel.
*In the film, the "police state" overtones are toned down (but are still noticeably present), while the idea of a major social and economic upheaval being the cause of the story's events is introduced in the introduction.
*The school uniforms featured in the film are different than the ones featured in the novel.
*In the book Kazuo is killed by Noriko and Shogo after a large shootout and car chase (the latter being fully absent in the film), while in the film Shogo Kawada kills Kiriyama.
*The Battle Royale logo is never described in the book.
*There is no "introductory video" in the novel. The rules of the Battle Royale are simply read out in the classroom by Sakamochi.
*Shogo mentions he was not with Keiko Onuki during the previous game in the book, also he makes no mention of killing a friend so they could both survive.
*Noriko is shot in the leg in the book, but is shot in the arm in the movie.
*The film portrays Mitsuko's coldness as having stemmed from a childhood during which she inadvertently kills a man to avoid being raped after she is pimped by her mother for money. In the novel, Mitsuko is unable to escape several incidents of rape in which she is a brain-washed and love-starved participant.
*In the film, the Battle Royale act is introduced to deal with widespread youth delinquency. In the novel, the participants are initially told that the Battle Royale is a battle simulation exercise used to obtain data for use by the military, and the mandatory entry is a replacement for conscription. However, a character is later told that the true purpose to keep the totalitarian government in control, by inspiring people to fear and distrust each other.
*In the novel the character Hiroki Sugimura is adept at martial arts and utilises this skill in several scenes; no mention is made of it in the movie.
*In the film, Shogo initially runs off after saving Shuya from Kyoichi and they meet up later when Noriko is ill. In the novel, they stay together after this encounter and travel as a trio to a medical clinic when Noriko is ill.
*In the film, Shogo immediately returns after leaving saying that he was given the wrong day pack and receives a new one. His exit is not mentioned at all in the novel.

Cast

Distribution

infobox movie certificates
Japan=R-15
United_Kingdom = 18
Mexico = "C"
Australia = R18+

Distribution in North America

Despite rumors to the contrary, the film is not banned in the United States. Rather, there has never been a distribution agreement for the film, due to its controversial nature and reportedly unreasonable distribution terms specified by Toei (specifically the price of distribution being somewhere between 1-2 million dollars and that it must be a wide release on the order of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"). This, incidentally is not the first of Toei's controversial moves in regards to its properties and the Western market. These two stipulations put it outside of the range of most smaller movie distributors, and the larger distributors would not handle the film. Therefore, technically the film is not banned, but neither does a local distributor for it exist. It has been exhibited at film festivals in North America. Nonetheless, 'bootleg' copies of the film imported from China and Hong Kong have widespread availability on the continent, and a 'Special Edition DVD' of the film was carried to a limited extent by retailers such as HMV and Starstruck Entertainment in Canada and Tower Records in the United States; the legal status of this edition is not clear. Also, the film's UK distributor, Tartan Films, has released an all-region NTSC DVD version of the film that is available in North America from specialty outlets. One widely available Hong Kong import is a special edition without English subtitles that contains both "Battle Royale" and its sequel.

asebo slashing controversy

The creators of the sequel postponed the release of the DVD (originally scheduled for June 9, 2004) to later that year, due to 'current events' which at the time was the Sasebo slashing. The killer was a fan of "Battle Royale". [cite web |url= http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/3772737.stm|title= Japan schoolgirl killer 'sorry'|accessdate=2007-01-12 |format= |work= BBC News]

Release of Special Version

A special version of the film was released after the original which has eight extra minutes of running time. Unusually, the extra material includes scenes newly filmed after the release of the original. Inserted scenes include (but are not limited to):
*Flashbacks to a basketball game which is used as a framework for the entire story.
*A flashback that explains Mitsuko's personality.
*Three epilogues (referred to as "requiems"). The first is an extension of the basketball scene. The second is a vision of Nobu telling Shuya to take care of Noriko. The third is a scene between Kitano and Noriko, who talk casually by a riverbank.
*Additional shots of the lighthouse after the shootout
*Additional reaction shots in the classroom, and extensions to existing shots.
*Extra CGI throughout the film

Reception

"Battle Royale" was labeled "crude and tasteless" by members of Japanese parliament and other government officials after the film was screened for them, even before its general release. [cite web |url= http://mediacircus.net/battleroyale.html|title= Battle Royale Movie Review|accessdate=2007-01-08 |last= Leong|first= Anthony|authorlink= |coauthors= |date= |year= 2001|month= |format= |work= |publisher= Issue 33 of Asian Cult Cinima|pages= |language= |archiveurl= |archivedate= |quote= ] The film created a debate over government action on media violence.

Many conservative politicians used the film to blame popular culture for a youth crime wave. Ilya Garger of "TIME" magazine said that "Battle Royale" received "free publicity" and received "box-office success usually reserved for cartoons and TV-drama spin-offs."

"Battle Royale" grossed ¥3.11 billion domestically. (around 25 million U.S. dollars) [cite web |url=(U.S. $23,208,955.22)http://www.accj.or.jp/document_library/Journal/1053151390.pdf|title= Japan Goes to the Movies|accessdate=2007-01-08 |last= J. T.|first= Testar|authorlink= |coauthors= |date= |year= 2002|month= June|format= PDF|work= |publisher= The Journal|pages= 1]

At the 2001 Japanese Academy Awards the film was nominated for best film, best direction, best script, best starring actor (Tatsuya Fujiwara), best soundtrack (Masamichi Oshima), and best sound recording (Kunio Ando). The film won best editing (Hirohide Abe), Tatsuya Fujiwara and Aki Maeda won rookie of the year, and "Battle Royale" won the audience popularity prize for a film. [cite web |url= http://www.japan-academy-prize.jp/allprizes/2001/index.html|title= 24th Japanese Academy Awards|accessdate=2006-12-29|language= Japanese ]

The detracting critics not only point out plot holes, but also note its relation to the increasingly extreme trend in Asian cinema and its similarity to reality television. [cite web |url= http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2001/09/05/battle_royale_2001_review.shtml|title= Battle Royale (2001)|accessdate=2007-01-08 |last= Korsner |first=Jason |authorlink= |coauthors= |date= 2001-09-13|year= 2001|month= September|format= |work= |publisher= BBC|pages= |language= |archiveurl= |archivedate= |quote= ]

TOKYO 10+01

"Battle Royale" heavily influenced the 2002 Japanese film "TOKYO 10+01", which was directed by Higuchinsky and makes several references to the "Battle Royale" film itself. It involves eleven strangers being forced to play a game with a set time limit or face death. Instead of explosive collars, they have bracelets with hypodermic needles which can inject a deadly poison if they try to remove them or time runs out. "TOKYO 10+01" has two actors who respectively appeared in both "Battle Royale" and "Battle Royale II: Requiem": Masanobu Ando, who played Kazuo Kiriyama in the first film, and Natsuki Kato, who appeared in "Battle Royale II" as Saki Sakurai.

oundtrack

Remake

In June 2006, "Variety" reported that New Line Cinema, with producers Neil Moritz and Roy Lee, intend to produce a new adaptation of Battle Royale. [cite news |first=Dave |last=McNary |title=New Line set to do 'Battle' |url=http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117944872.html?categoryid=13&cs=1 |work=Variety |publisher=Reed Business Information |date=2006-06-07 |accessdate=2008-01-14 ] Several websites echoed the news, including Ain't It Cool News, which claimed the remake would be a "an extremely Hard R - serious-minded Americanization of BATTLE ROYALE." [cite web |url=http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=23540 |title=BATTLE ROYALE American Remake Set Up... |accessdate=2008-01-14 |author=Harry Knowles |date=2006-06-08 |work=Ain't It Cool News |publisher=Ain't It Cool, Inc.] New Line tentatively set a release date of 2008.

The next month, "The New York Times" reported on an internet backlash to the remake. Through the article, Lee assured fans of his respect for the original work, claiming, "This is the one I'm going to be the most careful with." He stated that despite earlier concerns the movie would not be toned down to PG or PG-13, the characters would remain young teenagers, and that it would draw elements equally from the novel and the original movie.The reporter noted "the hubbub ... was at least slightly premature [as] New Line hasn't yet purchased the remake rights." [cite news |first=Robert |last=Ito |title=Lesson Plan: Kill or Be Killed |url=http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/09/movies/09ito.html |work=The New York Times |publisher=The New York Times Company |date=2006-07-09 |accessdate=2008-01-14 ]

Following the Virginia Tech massacre in April 2007, Roy Lee claimed that prospects for the remake had been "seriously shaken." While he remained willing to proceed, he stated, "we might be a little more sensitive to some of the issues." The reporting article noted that New Line still had not secured remake rights - their spokeswoman claiming "no news" when asked about progress on any deal. [cite news |first=Michael |last=Cieply |title=After Virginia Tech, Testing Limits of Movie Violence |url=http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/30/business/media/30hostel.html |work=The New York Times |publisher=The New York Times Company |date=2007-04-30 |accessdate=2008-01-14 ]

References

External links

*imdb title|id=0266308|title=Battle Royale
*rotten-tomatoes|id=battle_royale|title=Battle Royale
* [http://web.archive.org/web/20010908160144/http://www.battleroyalethemovie.com/ Official English-language "Battle Royale" website]
* [http://www.battleroyalefilm.net/ "Battle Royale" fansite]
* [http://mediacircus.net/battleroyale.html Review and analysis of the "Battle Royale" film]
* [http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=23540 "Battle Royale" American Remake Set Up]
* [http://www.dvdcompare.net/comparisons/film.php?fid=1550 Comparison of DVD releases]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXHLIe4zPTU "Battle Royale" Fan Made Film Trailer]
* " [http://www.jmdb.ne.jp/2000/dx003420.htm Battle Royale] " at the Japanese Movie Database
* " [http://www.jmdb.ne.jp/2001/dy004800.htm Battle Royale (Director's Cut)] " at the Japanese Movie Database


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