With “The Hunger Games” mania, it’s no longer just edgy auteurs who can get bootleg copies of “Battle Royale,” the controversial hard-core 2000 film that was considered unsafe for teens in Japan for its depiction of middle-school students slaying other students on a remote island. With a simmering Takeshi Kitano as a teacher who’s been dissed one time too many at work and at home, the cult classic shares a death match for cuties plot with “The Hunger Games,” and is finally available on DVD. Here on Yahoo!, searches for “Battle Royale” rose 2,696% this past week, apparently by riding the “Hunger Games” wave. But before you sit down to watch the Japanese film with your Jennifer Lawrence-besotted tween-ager, be aware that this movie pulls no punches.
The first and primary difference between the two films is that the Japanese version is set in a recognizably disturbing near-present and the adolescent gladiators battle in school uniforms. This isn’t a futuristic dystopia like Panem where the evil government selects and grooms 24 children to fight in a televised pageant to atone for past revolutionary activity. This is a chaotic contemporary Japan in which old values of respecting elders have been thrown out. Tweens gone wild in a disintegrating society have, in a sense, brought this Armageddon down around them.
[Related: A Mom’s Eye View of ‘The Hunger Games’]
“Battle Royale” answers a criticism that has been leveled at “The Hunger Games,” [Read more…]