Could you kill your best friend? That’s the dilemma that faces a class of 15yr old students in Japan. Their class think they are going on a school trip, however the reality is that they have been chosen at random to take part in a new scheme. The scheme which has been dubbed the ‘Battle Royale Act’ by the government involves the whole class fighting to the death. Their teacher Kitano (Takeshi Kitano) tells them they are all to be tagged with an explosive collar that will detonate if removed. Then they are given a map and a bag containing food and water plus a randomly selected item, which could be a weapon like a gun or a knife, or something useless like a frisbee.
At first the students think it to be a sick joke, that the government wouldn’t be sick or crazy enough to make them kill each other, but it’s not a joke. Crime is an epidemic and the youth are seen to be the cause of it. The government has been running the scheme with great success, and seem willing to continue it. Now before anyone says this isn’t a rip off of The Hunger Games, as this is over a good ten years older than that rubbish. This is a far more sophisticated beast, and one full of real violence and mayhem.
At first the students try to resist harming each other, but it’s futile. Mainly down to the fact that the island they are on has been split into sectors. Each day another sector is made unsafe, and if a student remains there, then their collar will explode. So sooner or later they will meet in the centre of the island.
This is a fantastic film. Directed by the late, brilliant Kinji Fukasaku, it’s bristling with menace. You can’t understand that a government would ever sanction something so bloodthirsty, but you can kind of understand the desperation in tackling youth crime. The sequel which was directed by Fukusaku’s son is terrible. It is just a car crash of a movie and is painful to watch. It’s obvious watching it that the talent for directing ended with Kinji. I definitely recommend this for anyone who has never seen it. If you can, seek out the directors cut which adds a little bit more flavour to proceedings.