Did Hunger Games leave you feeling vaguely unsatisfied, wishing for more blood and more ruthlessness? Well, look no further. The 2000 flick Battle Royale is the tale of an entire class of Japanese school children (41 of them to be exact) dumped on an uninhabited island. Everyone has a tracking device on their neck, which monitors sound and can explode at command from the powers that be. Each kid is given a bag with a little bit of food, some water, and a weapon. Weapons range from a machine gun to a pot lid to a scythe. The battle lasts for three days. The island is a grid, and certain quadrants at certain times mean instant death (via the collars) for anyone who goes there. Two “transfer students” are added at the last minute–survivors from previous games.There can only be one winner–if more than one person is alive at the end, then everyone dies.
It creates a nice little petri dish of violence. Grudges are aired, crushes come to light, friends kill themselves rather than harm anyone else. A group of students sets to work hacking the system. The most visceral scene was one where a group of cheerleaders camped out in a lighthouse. They were working together, laying low, when the male lead Shuya, wounded, sought refuge there. One of the girls tries to poison him but accidentally poisons another girl, and the thin veneer of trust explodes and all the girls kill each other. This scene shows the simmering tensions that the artificial situation has wrought on the students.
The pacing was spot on, the characters were sympathetic and interesting. I don’t have a whole lot else to say other than go watch.