Battle Royale:complete Col
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One Of The Most Controversial Film Series Of All Time
Now Available For The First Time In America
In 2000, director Kinji Fukasaku unleashed BATTLE ROYALE, his violently poetic epic about an innocent group of Junior High students forced by the government to hunt and kill their classmates for sport. It was nominated for 10 Japanese Academy Awards, launched a global phenomenon, and banned from screens by frightened civic groups and distributors across America. Three years later, the equally disturbing sequel -- featuring a new class, new rules, and a brutal terrorist plot by the first film's young survivors -- triggered its own tragic firestorm around the world. Now for the first time ever, you can see it all: Experience the entire BATTLE ROYALE saga on 4 discs -- including more than 3 hours of definitive Special Features -- that forever blasts open one of the most potent, shocking and savagely influential sagas in motion picture history.
''My favorite movie of the last 20 years…I wish I had made this movie.'' - Quentin Tarantino
''If you love The Hunger Games, Battle Royale sets the stage. One of the best - and most violent - genre films ever made. It's also a hell of a lot of fun.'' - Entertainment Weekly
TV Spot: Tarantino Version
Basketball Scene Rehearsals
Tokyo International Film Festival 2000
Special Edition TV Spot
Original Theatrical Trailer
Battle Royale Documentary
Special Effects Comparison Featurette
Audition & Rehearsal Footage
Instructional Video: Birthday Version
Battle Royale Press Conference
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The only disc with an English-language option is "Battle Royale" Director's Cut. The theatrical cut of the first film, along with the second film, are not dubbed in English... the only option is English subtitles. I actually prefer watching the film subtitled, but I thought I would include that information - I know many people do not like reading subtitles.
1) BATTLE ROYALE (Director's Cut)
English Subtitles: Yes
English Dub: Yes
2) BATTLE ROYALE (Theatrical Cut)
English Subtitles: Yes
English Dub: No
3) BATTLE ROYALE II: REQUIEM
English Subtitles: Yes
English Dub: No
**Disc 4 is not a blu-ray, it is a standard DVD with bonus materials from the movie.
"The Hunger Games"? No, actually it's "Battle Royale," a bloody and harrowing movie that came out several years earlier, depicting an alternate Japan where the youth are forced to kill each other. The first film one of those movies that is strangely fascinating and filled with social commentary, but the sequel falls short with its clunky message and suspenseless violence.
"Battle Royale": A class of high-schoolers are being transported on a bus, when they are gassed to unconsciousness. When they awake, they have electronic collars around their necks. A former teacher named Kitano explains that they have been chosen for the B.R. ("Battle Royale") Act, wherein teenagers are forced to fight each other to the death until only one is left standing.
If you don't play, try to escape, refuse to kill or stray into a "death zone," the collars explode. Each teenager is given food, water and a random item, and are set loose on a remote island. As the teens slowly weed each other out, Shuya Nanahara and his girlfriend Noriko try to find a way out that doesn't involve death. But if they refuse to kill, then they must escape the fascist nightmare... which no one has done before.
"Battle Royale II: Requiem" takes place a few years later -- another group of teenagers are gassed, and wake with the explosive electronic collars. But their Battle Royale is a little different: they're put in pairs and given 72 hours to storm a remote island stronghold and kill Shuya Nanahara (who has since become a terrorist). If one partner dies or runs away, the other one explodes.
Sent to attack Shuya and his little band of rebels, the teens are slowly weeded out by gunfire, explosions and their own growing panic. But when set free, they must ask themselves if Shuya is someone they really want to fight against - or someone they want to fight alongside. And they have to ask it fast, because the government is about to storm the island
"Battle Royale" is a classic example of a brilliant movie.... and its inferior sequel. Kinji Fukasaku's "Battle Royale" is a masterpiece of shocking violence and social commentary -- it's a bloody, suspenseful look at how humans react under threat of death, and how far people would go to survive. Even more striking is the look at brutal governments who just LOVE punishing innocent people.
And the acting is simply sublime. Takeshi Kitano is bonechilling as the former teacher who now sentences his students to death, and Tatsuya Fujiwara and Aki Maeda give stellar performances as ordinary kids who are forced to fight for their freedom.
Sadly, the sequel (which was directed by the original director's son, Kenta Fukasaku) doesn't manage the same level of brilliance. It tries to shock us even more by having more people die more violently, but there are only a few scenes of suspense over who will die. So there's just lots of people we don't know being gunned down in a splatter of blood and explosions. Tatsuya Fujiwara is the sole character who is really striking, playing a hardened, haunted man with a crusade.
Also, the sequel starkly contradicts the original movie's message, a timeless tale that could be set in any country across the world. Here, the hostility towards Shuya's terrorists is all blamed on the United States (yes, it's not the JAPANESE government's fault, but the US... because we fight terrorists, and all terrorists are secretly good guys), and we get a bizarre hackneyed scene all about how the people of the Middle East are all shining saints. It's doesn't fit the Battle Royale story.
"Battle Royale/Battle Royale II" contains one brilliant movie and its mediocre sequel, which is notable mainly because of Tatsuya Fujiwara's brilliant performance. So watch the first, skip the second.
The entire history behind Battle Royale itself is a rather intriguing one that can't be covered in this one review, though makes for a fun reading if you're curious and want to do a google search. Just know that North America has had the bad luck of school shootings and terrorist attacks deter any interest in releasing these two Japanese films until now. Though, while most of the heat the series takes is from the United States, it's interesting to note that the back of the packaging seems to suggest that this particular release is aimed towards a Canadian market, what with their "Made in Canada" sticker and Canadian movie rating, in comparison to the simple "Not Rated" blurb included for us in the states. Just an interesting observation.
As mentioned, the movies themselves are top notch, covering everything you'd expect in terms of violence as well as themes. The first movie is a very loose adaptation of the book, so I suggest picking that up for a more complete understanding, though the movie does a good job of standing well on its own. The second movie, in general, is also enjoyable enough, though without a second novel to base it off of, some consider this one significantly weaker than its predecessor. Regardless, there are enough twists in the sequel that separate itself from the first one and is a decent follow-up, though somewhat preachy.
My only gripes come from analyzing the small details--mostly in terms of the packaging. The set itself is presented in a book-style format, where each disc is inside the "sleeve" of a page. This makes removing and inserting each disc something of a chore in comparison to standard packaging. If you're afraid of scratching any discs, I'd recommend just keeping removing them and keeping them in a CD carrier, or something else more convenient. Each page of the booklet provides a nice spread, either taking screen captures from the movies or aspects from them, like the map, or student roster. What would have been helpful, though, is translating some of the text. While I thoroughly enjoyed the first movie, there are a good number of names tossed around, so having the student roster list with their pictures attached be translated would have been a big help. Additional minute details, like some screen captures being repeated between pages and the background picture for the grid of Area 6 not lining up with the grid itself when comparing with Areas 1-5 (the back of the page that holds disc 1, for reference) make for an overall sloppy design. The artwork for the back of the package is also notably spoiler-ey for the first film, crossing out all but the major characters as dead.
The choice of disc artwork also leaves me stumped. While there is clarification in the booklet itself as to which disc holds what movie, there's absolutely no indication of this on the discs themselves. A simple "director's cut" or "theatrical cut" would have been fine. Instead, each disc is marked by number with the text "Battle Royale" and "Survival Program." Not the most specific of text, especially when every disc has it. At the least, I would have expected use of the "BRII" logo for the disc containing the second disc, but no dice.
I should also mention that while the set has the Director's Cut and Theatrical Cut of the first movie (opinion seems rather split on which is better; I personally go with the Director's Cut if only for more footage), the Director's Cut for the second movie (apparently titled "Battle Royale: Revenge") is nowhere to be seen in this release. Normally, I wouldn't be too peeved about this, but to have two versions of one movie, and only one version of its sequel makes the titles of "The Complete Collection" rather misleading.
Still, I'm glad a North American release has made obtaining this movie significantly easier for fans as well as newcomers to the series that want to see a dystopian movie done the right way.