It’s difficult to gloss over the numerous connections that can be made between this film and many other nuggets of pop-culture. The most obvious being the similarity between it and The Hunger Games franchise, since both share a remarkably similar plot; kids are sent to fight to the death until a lone survivor emerges victorious. The main difference is that Battle Royale adds the threat of every contender being killed if a lone champion can’t emerge within three days. Additionally, it’s fascinating watching the emergence of a distinct ‘battle royale’ genre in different forms of media this past decade, especially considering the film’s controversial nature leading to it being banned or unavailable in many counties for several years, and still today.
The movie does a great job of drawing the line between the good and bad characters. Given the plot, every other character beside the leads will inherently have at least some antagonism imbedded in their story, but very few characters come across as actual ‘villains.’ Many supporting cast members, especially the more villainous characters, are often developed quite well considering the sheer cast size.
This development is aided by the commentary on how people react differently when unexpectedly thrown into a deadly and morally turbulent scenario. Some of the kids lose all care for others, some become pacifist, some commit suicide, and some mutter math equations under their breath.
Center stage, however, is Battle Royale’s violence. The deaths are brutal and gory and just cartoonish enough for you to not take it too seriously. In fact, the entire film is chock full of satirical and ironic stylistic choices, from the training video to the way the event administrator, Kitano, is so casual throughout the event.
Battle Royale is a forceful and fantastic look at how life-and-death situations shape a person. It will appeal to those who want a darker look at The Hunger Games, fans of Kill Bill, and even those who enjoy the battle royale concept in modern pop-culture.
Overall rating: 9/10