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"Battle Royale" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

Old 09-28-21, 10:24 PM
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"Battle Royale" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge



Battle Royale (2000)




Selected by jholmes


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These "October Horror Movie Challenge" threads are for the discussion of the films in the 31 FILM SUBSET list.

The plan is for everyone to watch this film on the October day in the thread title, and to start discussing it the morning of the following day.
You may start discussion early if you want, but the preferred plan is for this to be as much of a group exercise as possible, with all of us viewing it "together" and discussing after.

Of course, you are totally encouraged to participate in these threads even if you haven't watched the movie on the designated day.
Even if you haven't watched it in years, or are not participating in the Horror Challenge, please feel free to chime in.



Spoiler tags aren't always used in here, so if you have yet to see the film BEWARE OF POSSIBLE SPOILERS.

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2021 DISCUSSION | 2021 LISTS

Old 10-10-21, 11:06 AM
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Re: "Battle Royale" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I havent always been a fan of Battle Royale but enjoyed revisiting it today. Ill admit at first it was hard to keep track of all the characters and the premise is distractingly odd (despite Lord of Flies and Most Dangerous Game being classics) so I set out to just enjoy the bloody spectacle. The love triangles add a lot of needed drama and fhe kills are varied and well done. The scifi action element goes a long way in keeping it fast paces despite the long run time of the Directors Cut. There are a lot of little scene details that feel like they add to implied story.

Its pulp fun but I dont give a lot of weight to thematic elements of kids fighting as a metaphor here because the plot as symbolism doesnt seem developed beyond the immediate drama. Maybe I am overlooking some of that.
Old 10-10-21, 12:33 PM
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Re: "Battle Royale" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I first watched this movie in the early 2000's and usually view it as an action movie. Back then, I was blown away by how good it was and as soon as it came out on Blu-Ray I brought the Blu-Ray set, which also included the lesser sequel. When The Hunger Games and, to a lesser extent, the Stone Cold Steve Austin movie The Condemned, came out I couldn't help but be reminded of this one but for some reason have never gotten around to a second viewing of this movie.

I enjoyed just as much this viewing as I did the first time. The actress who played Mitsuko is gorgeous Kiriyama was badass, I still don't think it's really a horror film but if The Hunt can be considered one, I don't have much gripe with this counting.
Old 10-10-21, 12:34 PM
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Re: "Battle Royale" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I agree with Undeadcow that its almost impossible to keep up with the characters. Its best just to watch the bloodbath and not worry too much about who is who
Old 10-10-21, 01:01 PM
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Re: "Battle Royale" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I first saw Battle Royale when I lived in Japan. I moved there in 2002, and probably sometime in early 2003 one of my adult students and I were at a video store. I was asking her for recommendations, and she recommended Battle Royale. The "Special Version" had just come out, so the DVD was in all of the stores. I had never heard of it, so I took her up on her recommendation and rented it. Imagine if you will not knowing anything about it, watching it for the first time in Japanese with no subtitles, and trying to make sense of it. It was difficult. Once my student clarified some plot points for me, I understood what it was getting at. I thought that it was incredible, even without knowing exactly what was going on. I bought a copy on DVD just so I'd have it to show to friends when I moved back home. Once I came home, I joined Netflix's disc-by-mail service, and they had gotten hold of a subtitled copy of Battle Royale from China and were renting it out. I rented it, made a copy, and that became my go-to copy until Anchor Bay's Blu-ray set came out.

I've probably seen the film a dozen times now, but I've debated with myself since the first time that I saw it whether or not it's a horror film, and I still can't give a definitive answer. Once you've seen the film a few times, however, you'll get a handle on all the characters. I would no doubt put it on my list of my favorite fifty or so films.

My subset film rankings for the Challenge thus far:

1. Battle Royale
2. Carrie (1976)
3. Slither
4. Witchfinder General
5. A Bay of Blood / The Spiral Staircase (averaged together)
6. Silent Madness
7. Slumber Party Massacre II (based purely on its out-of-left-field aesthetic)
8. Road Games
9. Grave Robbers (Ladrones de Tumbas)
10. The Severed Arm
11. Cutting Class
Old 10-10-21, 02:30 PM
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Re: "Battle Royale" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I'm excited to watch this for the first time today. I picked it because I'm working my way through They Shoot Zombies, Don't They? and its #447 on that list. I've seen just one episode of Squid Game so far, so I'm interested to see how they compare.

ETA: Loved it. The fact that these were young kids battling it out made it so much creepier. Good range of characters, good kills, great production values, and a lot of heart. The sentimentality at the end! Aw, all the dead classmates. <sniff> Glad I finally got to watch it.

Last edited by jholmes; 10-10-21 at 10:54 PM.
Old 10-10-21, 03:00 PM
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Re: "Battle Royale" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I first saw this in college in 2002. I downloaded it illegally and watched it in my dorm room with my friends on my computer. This was early on in my downloading/ordering asian movies which led me stuff like Infernal Affairs, Versus and Suicide Circle. I probably watched that dvd of it 7 or 8 times those first few years. It had been a few years since I last watched it and I still enjoy it a lot. I remembered most of the pieces of it and still enjoyed the face offs throughout the movies. It probably sets out to do too much in one movie, but it has fun doing it.
Old 10-10-21, 06:10 PM
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Re: "Battle Royale" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

As I make my career change and have become a middle-school teacher, I am watching this with a much different perspective than I did during my previous views. Not so sure the “bad guy” is the bad guy …

I am still at a loss as to how Suzanne Collins gets away with claiming she had never seen or heard of Battle Royale.

I actually haven’t watched this recently, but will be soon. My housemates and I have been hooked on Squid Game, but none of them have heard of Battle Royale. We are on fall break at the moment, but I’ll be taking my Anchor Bay set back down there for us to watch in the next few weeks.
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Old 10-10-21, 06:47 PM
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Re: "Battle Royale" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I’m getting ready to go to Devil’s Island. Oh wait wrong movie. I’ve been looking forward to this one. I think I’ve seen it 4-5 times. Someone unloaded a region locked DVD on me before I knew what that was. I specifically got a region free DVD player to watch this. I tried for years to get rid of the DVD once I upgraded to Blu-ray.

Chad, those alternate movie posters are really cool, especially the one the teacher shows the survivors at the end.

Last edited by WillieMLF; 10-10-21 at 08:26 PM.
Old 10-10-21, 07:29 PM
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Re: "Battle Royale" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I like how many of us have our stories on how we first came across this movie. It was actually one of if not the first movies that I bought an import version of. It was essentially one of the reasons I went region free in the early 2000s. So, my sort of funny story about the movie is that shortly after I watched it, I was talking to an uncle of mine. He was raving about this novel that he bought. He said the story would make an incredible movie but that there was no way it could be made because of its content. Then he tells me the title, and I'm like that's the movie that I just imported! He could believe it. I bought him a copy. He loved it, and I showed pretty much all of my friends. It's one of those rite of passage movies.

So, I hope I've established myself to be a big fan of the movie, but since we're all here to talk about the film, here are my criticisms of it. They have been gripes I've always had. There are a couple things that just don't make much sense to me, but I've always just gone with it because the movie is so good overall. The main thing is the BR Act itself. We get a glimpse of a previous winner. It seems to be a media circus, yet these kids know nothing about it. It reminds me of that moment in Dr. Strangelove where Strangelove says it's not effective if you keep it a secret, why didn't you tell the world? The whole act is ineffective if the kids don't know it's a thing. Even the current class teacher didn't seem to know about it. And then how is the class chosen? At random? Where's the incentive to behave (again, especially if the kids don't know about it)? I don't really understand why the teacher was so fixated on Noriko or why she was supposed to be so much better than everyone else. Actually, what's the deal with the teacher in the first place? Did he take a new government job?

OK, a few more gripes. For how well spoken the kids generally are, it makes a few of the lines of dialogue ridiculously cheesy, and those tend to be at emotional moments, too. Like when Chigusa is dying and they're telling each other how cool they look. I get it; they're middle schoolers, but it just seems overly clunky. I've always suspected some of these moments were more the result of translation or subtitle issues. Along similar lines were many of the moments where they put up the title cards with thoughts from the kids. It always makes me cringe when Shuya starts talking to the title cards after the poisoning. While there are some worthwhile character moments in the special edition, I always remember the basketball scenes as being laughably bad (also, so many requiems) and the CGI far more intrusive. So the theatrical cut has become my go-to.

I know you must be wondering if I really do like the movie at all. I really, really do, and I guess that's why some of these awkward moments throughout the film stand out so much to me, especially with repeat viewings. But I love how the film doesn't sugarcoat things. It's pretty brutal despite the youth of the characters. The music is great throughout. Even the end credits song always seems like a great capper to all the action. Also, I had forgotten how much I always wanted a framed copy of the picture the teacher shows at the end. A lot of the characters really stand out, despite relatively short screen time. The standouts for me are probably Kiriyama and Mitsuko, though Kawada is a solid action lead.

As for the horror debate, I'm firm on the side of hard action. It doesn't seem interested in scaring the audience at all. I think because it's one of those controversial and "graphic" movies, it gets co-opted into the horror genre even though it's not really appropriate for it. I feel similarly toward Seven and Silence of the Lambs.

Last edited by clckworang; 10-10-21 at 07:38 PM.
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Old 10-10-21, 08:25 PM
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Re: "Battle Royale" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

My first copy of this was a shitty bootleg I had for years. I can’t remember how I discovered it though I think it was around the time I was watching Tetsuo & Drumstruck over and over.
I tried really hard to get into Japanese horror but it’s just not my thing. Not that I think this is horror. I think it falls into action/sci-fi. Still it was nice to watch it again.
Old 10-10-21, 08:41 PM
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Re: "Battle Royale" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

Originally Posted by clckworang View Post
So, I hope I've established myself to be a big fan of the movie, but since we're all here to talk about the film, here are my criticisms of it. They have been gripes I've always had. There are a couple things that just don't make much sense to me, but I've always just gone with it because the movie is so good overall. The main thing is the BR Act itself. We get a glimpse of a previous winner. It seems to be a media circus, yet these kids know nothing about it. It reminds me of that moment in Dr. Strangelove where Strangelove says it's not effective if you keep it a secret, why didn't you tell the world? The whole act is ineffective if the kids don't know it's a thing. Even the current class teacher didn't seem to know about it. And then how is the class chosen? At random? Where's the incentive to behave (again, especially if the kids don't know about it)? I don't really understand why the teacher was so fixated on Noriko or why she was supposed to be so much better than everyone else. Actually, what's the deal with the teacher in the first place? Did he take a new government job?
I think it’s supposed to suggest that the younger generation just doesn’t care and never pays attention to anything. I’ve always seen that whole introduction as being for the audience, but now that I think about it, it is a weak argument. I did read the book many years ago, and may see if something is mentioned.

The girl was special to the teacher, because she was the only one who showed up for class, when everyone else bailed.

This seems like an amped up Running Man, but I would never consider that horror. Because it involves impressionable children, graphically fighting it out to the death, i’ll give iit a good bit of leeway. I’ve seen this enough times, and it’s still really tight for a 2 hour long movie.

Last edited by WillieMLF; 10-10-21 at 09:16 PM.
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Old 10-11-21, 12:03 AM
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Re: "Battle Royale" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I went through a lot of versions of this movie too First a crappy VHS from a pseudo-legal source (I gave an embarrassingly large amount of money to places like that 20-25 years ago) . Then a VCD (remember those?) from an equally dubious source. Then a R3 bare-bones DVD. Then a nice "official" DVD with special features. Then the 4-disc Blu Ray set. I don't have a 4K set, but I'm sure that one is coming too.

Anyone watch the "special edition"? I don't think I have. It's part of the blu-ray set, but I felt like watching the theatrical original version again. It doesn't sound like there are a lot of differences. 8 extra minutes, mostly tacked on epilogues and extra flashbacks?
Old 10-11-21, 11:51 AM
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Re: "Battle Royale" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

Originally Posted by WillieMLF View Post
I think itís supposed to suggest that the younger generation just doesnít care and never pays attention to anything. Iíve always seen that whole introduction as being for the audience, but now that I think about it, it is a weak argument. I did read the book many years ago, and may see if something is mentioned.

The girl was special to the teacher, because she was the only one who showed up for class, when everyone else bailed.

This seems like an amped up Running Man, but I would never consider that horror. Because it involves impressionable children, graphically fighting it out to the death, iíll give iit a good bit of leeway. Iíve seen this enough times, and itís still really tight for a 2 hour long movie.
Even if that introduction is just for the audience, Kawada is also a previous winner, so it's not like these things hadn't happened before. You'd think word would spread among students and teachers that there's this thing that goes on. I understand the kids not watching the news, but come on.

Also, for how big of a pedestal that the teacher places that girl on, I'd like to think there was more to it than she was the one who showed up to class.
Old 10-11-21, 12:51 PM
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Re: "Battle Royale" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

Originally Posted by WillieMLF View Post
I think it’s supposed to suggest that the younger generation just doesn’t care and never pays attention to anything...
Battle Royale is "Boomer" horror?
Originally Posted by brainee View Post
Anyone watch the "special edition"? I don't think I have. It's part of the blu-ray set, but I felt like watching the theatrical original version again. It doesn't sound like there are a lot of differences. 8 extra minutes, mostly tacked on epilogues and extra flashbacks?
I watched the Director's Cut and felt it had decent pacing, I can't say I know what was much different but it didn't feel overly long. The flashbacks helped me understand characters more, which was a weakness of BR imo.
Old 10-12-21, 12:57 AM
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Re: "Battle Royale" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

Originally Posted by rbrown498 View Post
I first saw Battle Royale when I lived in Japan. I moved there in 2002, and probably sometime in early 2003 one of my adult students and I were at a video store. I was asking her for recommendations, and she recommended Battle Royale.
I know I read somewhere years ago that this film is a metaphor for the ultra-competitive National Center Test (or whatever it was called before 2000). Did any of your students say anything about this movie being a critique on the university admissions system?
Old 10-12-21, 09:52 AM
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Re: "Battle Royale" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

Originally Posted by L Everett Scott View Post
I know I read somewhere years ago that this film is a metaphor for the ultra-competitive National Center Test (or whatever it was called before 2000). Did any of your students say anything about this movie being a critique on the university admissions system?
No, but that's not unusual, as she was the only student of mine in college. All of the others were adults and children. Nobody I knew in Japan was a big movie fan, so anytime that I mentioned specific movies, I usually got blank stares. I mentioned my love of Godzilla often, but most of my students seemed kind of embarrassed about that franchise, seeing the films as just for kids. I also mentioned Onibaba to one of my adult classes once, and they laughed at the title (which, to be fair, means "demon grandmother" in Japanese).

The student who recommended Battle Royale to me, Emi, was kind enough to accompany me to the Godzilla Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition in a neighboring town, which was a traveling exhibition put on by Toho Studios at various art galleries around the country. Here's my story about that, as I related on another forum:

-----

In 1999 or so, I had recently gotten divorced and was living in a one-bedroom apartment. It was cramped due to all of my collections--my LPs, my CDs, my books, my VHS...I collect a lot of things. I had to make room, so I started selling stuff off on eBay. I decided that I could live without my Super 8 film collection, so I listed all of my Ken and Castle reels individually on eBay. I ended up selling two of them (Destroy All Monsters and Rodan) to a guy in Japan. When the payment came in, I was rather flummoxed that the payment came from Toho Studios. I mailed the two films off to Tokyo and went on with my life.

Due to a rather strange sequence of events, I wound up living in Japan from 2002-2004. I lived in a little town called Sukagawa, which is the birthplace of Eiji Tsuburaya. There was a seven-foot-tall Ultraman statue outside of City Hall, which I thought was pretty cool. I was told that there had been a giant fiberglass Godzilla egg in the mountains nearby, but it had been removed because it had become covered with graffiti.

In the summer of 2004, a poster featuring Godzilla appeared in the bookstore across the street from where I lived. I asked about it, and I was told that there was going to be an exhibition in the Koriyama Art Museum commemorating Godzilla's 50th birthday. Naturally, I HAD to go. Koriyama is a large town about 10 miles away from Sukagawa, and I had been there very often, but I wasn't exactly sure where the art museum was, so I asked a friend who knew how to get there to go with me.

We got to the museum about an hour before it closed that afternoon, and we went through the exhibit slowly, so that I could take everything in. To say that it was like a religious experience would be downplaying its impact on me; here, in front of me, was the stuff that my childhood dreams had been made of. Each Godzilla film had its own exhibit, and they were arranged in order of production. The display for the original film was first, then we'd turn a corner and the display for Godzilla Raids Again was there, and so on down the line.

When we reached the Destroy All Monsters display, I noticed that there was a Super 8 cutdown of the film displayed...and then I realized that it was MY FILM that I had sold to Toho five years before. I was rather dumbstruck, and it still makes me a little giddy to think that my film and I were reunited that day, 6,000 miles away from home. Of course, I can't be absolutely sure that it was my copy of the film, but it looked to be in the exact same shape as my film had been, and the details added up to leave me with that conclusion.

-----

Obviously, the friend in the story was Emi, and we still keep in touch. When I went to Japan to visit in 2017, I met her daughter for the first time and found out that Kaede, who was ten then, loved monsters and was a huge fan of Five Nights at Freddie's, which I knew nothing about. I sent her a big box of Five Nights at Freddie's stuff for Halloween that year.

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Old 10-25-21, 10:15 PM
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Re: "Battle Royale" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

Somehow never saw this film before, despite knowing of it’s impact and highly regarded status. Not sure I’d call it horror, but it’s powerful and moving.

Stealing rbrown’s subset ranking idea:

The Phantom Carriage, 8/10
Carrie, 8/10
Battle Royale, 8/10

The Spiral Staircase, 8/10
Slumber Party Massacre 2, 7/10
A Bay of Blood, 7/10
The Frighteners, 7/10

Road Games, 7/10
Slither, 7/10
Witchfinder General 7/10
Cutting Class, 6/10
Grave Robbers, 5/10

Silent Madness, 5/10
The Severed Arm, 4/10

Last edited by Trevor; 10-26-21 at 07:26 AM.
Old 11-01-21, 01:22 PM
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Re: "Battle Royale" Reviews/Discussion - 2021 Horror Challenge

I heard about BR especially at the time of The Hunger Games but I have not watched it until this challenge. Given the large class I think the movie did its best to give characterizations to the students albeit some more cursory than others. Brutal yet well done for the subject matter.

I am glad to have watched enough anime to pick up simple words and phrases in Japanese but I still need the subtitles. Speaking of anime, I thought the presentation video announcer sounded a lot like an anime character -- sure enough Yūko Miyamura is the voice of Asuka in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Sugoi!


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