7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Finally! Blu-ray BATTLE ROYALE: It Just Doesn't Get Any Better Than This!,
This review is from: Battle Royale [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
So much has been written about the film. So much has been said. So much has been debated, discussed, dissected, and so much has been praised or insulted or misunderstood. Those of us who celebrate film will always owe a special debt to the people at Anchor Bay: for the first time since it was released, BATTLE ROYALE is now being made available - uncensored, uncut, unrated - in America.
No doubt that BATTLE ROYALE's Blu-ray release was intended to coincide with the launch of another book-turned-film-franchise, THE HUNGER GAMES, in theatres in March, 2012. Clearly, that's some savvy marketing, as people from around the world have been arguing about the comparisons since the books by Suzanna Collins appeared. To her credit, Ms. Collins claims that she'd never heard of BATTLE ROYALE, nor read the 1999 Japanese novel of the same name that the movie was based on. I'll take her at her word, and I'll leave that debate to folks who've schooled themselves in those facts.
In the not-too-distant-future, Japan's economy has collapsed. As a result, unemployment is destroying the culture. Crime is on the rise. Hoping to keep its next generation under its control, the Japanese government passed The BR (`Battle Royale') Law, which requires one 9th grade class each year to be shipped off to an island. Their mission? Kill each other until only one person is left. There are some other fine points to the game (i.e. each student is given a duffle full of supplies, the Island is broken into danger zones, etc.), but the message remains the same: 42 kids enter, 1 may leave.
That simple concept practically explodes into one of the bloodiest, shocking flicks captured on film!
As I said above, much has been written about ROYALE's violence, so much so that I'll take a pass on that topic. Violence is violence - there isn't any escaping it - and, when buckets of blood rules at the box office, the film certainly delivers. What fascinated me much more about this story is the way that the 42 students of the film created their own subcultures once they've been deposited on the island. Some of them remain fiercely independent, while others are doggedly loyal to one another. Some of them panic as a result of the circumstances, and they immediately turn on one another. What's fascinating is that who they become as a result of the situation thrust upon them in many ways resembles an extension of who they were before it all when to heck in a handbasket. The manipulative `losers' become even more manipulative in order to survive the game, just as the computer nerds quickly go to work on cracking the hard science behind their entrapment. If anything, ROYALE shows - despite its joyous subversiveness - that who a person is at his core will inevitably dictate what he'll become when a new society comes calling. Agree with it or not, that's a powerful message, and it clearly shows why ROYALE deserves much more study in the years ahead. Now that it's available legitimately in the U.S., it'll hopefully gain an even greater following.
As stated, this is a fully uncut restoration, and it's been given a first class treatment here. While the disc boasts absolutely zero special features, I'm so appreciative of having a clean cut available to me that I don't believe I missed much. The picture is fabulous (mostly), but there are a few scenes which clearly were either shot poorly `in the can' or were tinkered with in post-production (zoom ins), a choice that ultimately limited the quality. You'll see instantly what I mean: three or four short cuts are covered in grain. Sound is excellent - a noticeable improvement over the previous foreign DVD release I've had in my collection for a few years - which is nice because the film makes great use of some background audio and even a limited score. Now all we need is a massive "Intellectual Edition" release which scores and scores and scores of commentaries, essays, features, and interviews about the picture.
Maybe I'm overdoing it, and, if you think so, you'll have to pardon my excitement. Those of us who've loved ROYALE privately for years are ecstatic to be treated to a terrific stateside release. Yes, the film's dark. Of course, it's a textbook example of subversive cinema at its finest. It'll make you think, squeal, squirm. Shock. Joy. Revenge. And cookies. Everything you could want in a picture is in here - somewhere - so, if you've never seen it, I encourage you to do it today. Put the kids to bed. Pop some fresh popcorn. Dim the lights. Prepare yourself for the darkest of dark tragedies - this modern day epic - and let the chips fall where they may. Blood will be shed. Oh, yes, it will.
HIGHEST RECOMMENDATION POSSIBLE. Yes, BATTLE ROYALE is an instant classic. While the subject matter or elements of the presentation may disturb you, keep in mind that there will probably never be another film like it in your lifetime.
In the interests of fairness, I'm pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Anchor Bay provided me with a DVD screener copy for the expressed purposes of completing this review.