Hey folks, Valkor here. And I welcome you to TOV's "30 in 30", where I'll review 30 unique film and maybe some not so unique, all in 30 days. What's cool for most of the flicks, is that I know nothing about em. So this should be a real treat not just for you guys, but for me as well. Good or bad, this is gonna be a fun month. It all starts today July the 4th and ends on Aug the 3rd. Can I make it through? We'll know soon enough!
Back when TOV first began, I opened up MediaView with its first real review - "Battle Royale", the Kinji Fukasaka film about teens surviving on an island in a deadly game of survival. When I first heard about the film, I knew I had to see it and imported the VCD as soon as it became available. Months later I was able to get the DVD at a local import market. But years later, I found myself in a similar market, looking at the box art for another "Battle Royale" DVD, which the vendor, very enthusiastically, tried to sell me. I told him I had already seen it and was about to walk away when he uttered these words "But did you see the Director's cut?" SHENANIGANS! I yelled, there is no such a thing! But lo and behold as I lay my hands upon the DVD box, there at the very top were the words "Director's Cut". Just the thought of what could have possibly been cut from an already awesome and gruesome film forced the money clear out of my wallet and the DVD into my messenger bag. And as I sat through this new version of the film… I must say I was indeed impressed! And thus, we bring you to number 26!
To begin, for those who have never seen Battle Royale (shame on you if you haven't), the film revolves around a group of high school teens sent to this island, where they're forced into a game called "Battle Royale". Why do you ask? Well, juvenile delinquency is on the rise In Japan and the adults pretty much can't take it anymore. So the solution to the problem? The Battle Royale Act is passed, hence the game "Battle Royale". In the game, the students must try to kill one another to make it as the last man standing. Of course, the winner gets to go home, losers also get to go home, but in a box. At the start, they're given a backpack filled with all kinds of gear plus a random weapon, which could be anything from a gun, hand grenades, or even a frying pan. Once they're equipped, they're sent off on the island and must try to avoid being killed. But here's the trick – if there's more than one person alive at the end of the game, they all die. Students are also equipped with a neck brace, which if they try to remove it, their heads will explode. Plus there are hot spots on the island, where if a student is in that spot… well if you guessed their head will explode, you'd be correct. altogether there are 42 students, two of which - Shuya Nanahara (played by Tatsuya Fujiwara, who also plays Yagami Light in the live action Death Note Films) and Noriko Nakagawa (Aki Maeda), do their best to not get involved in the games and work together to try and survive. Another player, Shogo Kawada who has played the game previously, joins Shuya and Noriko, with his reasoning being tied into the game he previously survived.
The film has several layers to it; first, there's Shuya's past, which is seen through flashbacks, and with the Director's cut we get more of his backstory, which includes his time on the basketball team and his relationship with his father, who committed suicide. The second layer is how each of the students handles their new found situation, which to me seems real. Some use their time to try and cater to their sexual fancy, others get into the spirit of the game, killing anyone who comes across their path. You have a set of nerds who use their hacking skills to get into the island's computer, two students choose death over fighting – period! And another group has formed a community of sorts, choosing not to fight, but working together to overcome this horrendous game. Finally, you have the game's host, Kitano (played by Beat Takeshi), who in the past, was injured by one of the students and now heads up the BR act and controls the games. But for some strange reason, he soon falls in love with Noriko.
So what does the director's cut add, to an already awesome film? For one it extends some scenes, giving us a deeper look into some of the characters backstories - not just Shuya, but really fleshing out the story. And second, it adds, even more, brutality to what is already considered a controversial (kids killing kids) film but adding in additional gore scenes and blood spurts.
Again if you have not seen Battle Royale, you're missing out on a tour de force of blood and gore on a level unheard of; actually, it's not so much about the blood and gore, it's also about the fact that it's supposed to be high school kids doing this to one another, all in the name of survival. Their reactions feel very real and natural to the scenes they participate in, including all the screams of anguish and pain, plus tears on top of tears. If you're not touched by this film in some way then you have no soul. And those death scenes? Brutal, just brutal! These students are no holds barred when it comes to taking out their fellow classmates and they'll do whatever it takes to get the job done. I won't give too much away, but if you read the ugly section, there's one scene that I have to warn the fellas about.
Dude getting stabbed in the crotch! OUCH!!
For those of you who have seen Battle Royale, the original cut, do yourselves a favor and pick up the Director's cut, which gives you so much more of the film you love, giving you a deeper understanding of what it's all about. And if you have not seen it, then prepare to be blown away, because Battle Royale will change your life! Out of TOV 5 stars, I give the film 5 stars and it's been Valkor tested, TOV Approved!
And as an added bonus, it looks like the film is getting a three dimensional makeover. can you imagine: Battle Royale in 3D? Holy shit, I think I just soiled myself!! Click the logo to the right or watch the trailer above, but it's in japanese so just a heads up!