The Hunger Games have been all over the news lately. In one of the many articles a critic discussed Battle Royale, a year 2000 Japanese film about a class of teenagers forced to fight to the death in an arena. The writer pointed out the similarities between the two films. The greater violence of Battle Royale was emphasized, a fact which drew my husband like a magnet. We watched the movie one rainy Saturday night and I have to admit to being disturbed on many levels. But mostly, I was impressed – because much of the heart that I felt was missing from Hunger Games (the movie) appeared in this movie.
In the future, the Japanese Government finds itself with growing numbers of disenchanted youth. Disrespectful in school, violent in some cases, they represent to the adults a break down in society and the culture they have always known. In retribution and an attempt to hold some form of power over these kids the Battle Royale Act is instated. Battle Royale is a fun little game played every year in which a random class of young people is chosen to fight to the death in an arena. Each person is given a back pack with a weapon but don’t be fooled, there’s nothing fair about the fight. Some backpacks contain frying pans, others machine guns. To add some spice two ringers are added to the field called transfer students. One ringer is a former winner being punished for attitude, reminding the kids that they are never safe from vengeance. The other is the equivalent of what the Hunger Games called a career – a seasoned, trained fighter who likes to kill. Everyone on the island has only three days. If at the end of three days more than one person is alive, all are detonated and no winner is declared. (more…)