Battle Royale

Year: 2000
Production Co: Battle Royale Production Committee
Director: Kinji Fukusaku
Writer: Kinji Fukusaku
Cast: Takeshi Kitano
With its roots (possibly without knowing) in Stephen King's brilliant The Long Walk writing as Richard Bachman), Battle Royale, a film with a massive cult following, is a fantastic and timeless idea for a story and therefore perfect for a fairly simple movie where all the action/dialogue etc flows naturally from the idea (or should) rather than reinforcing it or trying to give it credibility.

Simply put, take a large number of people – all of whom have to die – and watch with interest to see who proves his or her mettle, fights the best or falls. Watch them interact and react along the way, wait for the surprises as alliances form and disintegrate, and above all; burn with curiosity about just who'll be left standing.

Some people consider the social comment the real story; the lottery that sees classes of Japanese students left on an island to wipe each other out can be seen as a metaphor for every generation's sensationalising the problem of wayward and rebellious youth.

But I suspect most people go for it because of the violence and bloodshed that's attracted the cult appeal.

The ubiquitous Beat Kitano is their teacher; the students are gassed asleep on a bus ride and wake up on an island where their previously mild-mannered teacher explains that they've been selected under the education reform act to be let loose on the island over the course of three days with a variety of weapons and that the last one alive will win just by still being alive.

Some can't believe it, some relish it, some commit suicide rather than go through with it, some try to stick together, some come undone with paranoia.

And all through it, we get regular roll calls of the dead and unnerving straplines across the screen counting down the tally like a lotto draw.

Violent, fast-paced, brilliant in its simplicity, but like all the classics (from Birth of a Nation to Star Wars), I'm not sure it should be read into as much as people are doing.

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