This week I’ll be revealing my top ten favourite films, posting one each day with a few paragraphs about what they mean to me. If anyone wishes to share their favourites I’d be happy to hear from you. Today is #7.
7) Battle Royale (2000)
Based on Koushun Takami’s debut novel, Battle Royale tackles a controversial subject but still emerges as a great film. It would be easy to imagine many audiences being alienated by the film. The idea of a class of students, chosen at random, being left on an island and given three days to kill each other was not something I initially felt would appeal to me. Asian cinema can be extreme, in some cases too much for me, but there is much more to Battle Royale than the difficult premise.
As you would expect the film is violent with the students armed with guns, blades and even grenades, with each student given a random bag containing provisions and either a useful or useless item dependent on their luck. Though the violence may be a turn-off to many people I never feel it goes too far compared to other Japanese films I have seen such as Ichi the Killer. What’s fascinating in Battle Royale is how the students respond to their predicament. While some have no issue about murdering their classmates, others – namely the main protagonists, Shuya and Noriko – try to find another way to escape this cruel game.
The hierarchy and personal relationships of the students in their school environment are thrown into disarray. Victims of bullies now have the means and motive for revenge while previously shy students, admiring a classmate from afar, risk everything to see them one last time and declare their feelings. The added complication for the students is the presence of two other participants – Kiriyama who is a relentless, unemotional killer and the mysterious but organised, Shogo.
Battle Royale builds up to a dramatic conclusion with regular subtitle updates reminding us how many students are left and how close we are to the end. With only one winner being allowed the film will keep you guessing. If you can look beyond the controversial subject matter then there is a brilliant film to discover here.
Top Ten so far:
7) Battle Royale (2001)
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