Alan Smithee

On The Treadmill – Battle Royale

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Oh Japan, you make some of the most melodramatic movies, especially ones about kids killing other kids.

Battle Royale, think of it as the precursor to Hunger Games, and other movies involving kids killing kids in contests where there can only be one survivor, is the story of a class of Junior High School students that are taken by bus on what they think as a class trip only to be drugged, flown to an island, fitted with an explosive collar, and made to kill each other until there can be only one survivor.

The series was controversial in many nations to the point where it wasn’t published and even prohibited. The movie however brings it to a whole different level as it’s live-action and involving mass murdering children…something that Quentin Tarantino was applauding long before his rise to the throne of movie making. I’m not saying he’s a god, but damn close. Anyways, back to the movie and me consuming it on the treadmill.

First off, it’s slow. Pretty slow. Too damn slow. Oh and it’s anti-climactic. I am trying to handle this movie review with kid gloves because it’s a decently older movie and from a country that has a different culture when it comes to movie violence and budgets. Yes, budgets.

battle royale

I don’t want to rip this movie because I did happen to enjoy it (big shocker there, the weeaboo liked a Japanese film), though I would have to say it’s not for the casual fan. Hell, it would be entirely unwatchable without Takeshi Kitano filling the gaps between the kids with minimal acting experience and the nonsensical plot of “These damn kids have no respect so let’s make them fight each other”. It plays a lot like The Hunger Games minus the whole ‘tribute’ thing, the Japanese government just arbitrarily picks a classroom and makes them fight to the end. This might make more sense with adults who know better, but instead we’re left with Jr. High kids trying to grapple with some really difficult terms and are forced to grow up fast.

That brings me to my second bit, when you find yourself rooting for the obvious villain who made the whole event happen you obviously don’t have characters that play anything more than living/breathing set pieces. Then there’s the Japanese and their evil characters who become nearly otherworldly in their portrayal of just how evil they are…we’re talking literally becoming the personification of evil. And finally, this is so American of me, but I hate seeing other cultures attempting to use firearms. It’s just too laughable.

So it took me a few days to watch the entire thing, but I finished it though I can’t recommend it for anyone as a workout movie. The pacing just isn’t there. Watch it if you have a little free time one of these days, but definitely not as something to keep you entertained on the treadmill.

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