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Original Title: Batoru Rowaiaru
Battle Royale is a Japanese cult film that originated as a novel, was transposed to a manga, until finally migrating to the big screen in 2000. Since then, it has been dubbed into several languages, followed up by a sequel, and spawn dozens of spin offs.
This film has a rather simple premise that is fully explained in the proximity of the opening two minutes: Japan (or the world) faced an economic collapse, and millions were unemployed as a result. To bring structure to the rebellious youth (and possibly to rid the country of population complications), the government imposed the B.R. Act, which states that, each year, one class will be selected at random to be taken to an island where they will fight to the death using an assortment of weapons.
Following the opening title card, the audience is left to ponder some rather lengthy questions. What caused the collapse? To what extent is the country damaged? How is the rest of the world doing? Why punish the rebellious youth by making an example of those who chose not to boycott public education? These questions will surely bog down the viewing experience, so it’s best to keep an open mind when beginning this film.
Fortunately for the film, it does not take itself too seriously. In a way, this compliments the sub-par acting and decent, at best, production quality to create an interesting viewing experience. The premise, alone, will have the majority of western audiences immediately hooked because it is a departure from the conventions this audience is accustomed to.
The film appears to touch on a number of philosophical issues, such as the meaning of loyalty and the dynamic of happiness. In addition to this, the film illustrates that youth rebellions can be justified (this is against most mainstream thought), in addition to poking fun at capitalist solutions in times of desperation.
Though the film has its fair share of cheesy moments, they are somewhat endearing amidst this fairly enjoyable film.