Summary: Students are forced onto a deserted island where they are given weapons and forced to kill each other in a sadistic game of survival. The last student alive wins and gets to go home.
Thoughts: Yes, it’s like Hunger Games, though there are enough differences to prevent me from thinking that one is ripping off the other. They each take a similar premise, school-age children forced to kill each other, but do very different things with it. Of course, Battle Royale from Japan never became as popular here in the US. I only heard of it when fans of this film protested against the Hunger Games franchise. Anyway, though I think both stories have flaws, I enjoyed Battle Royale more than I enjoyed reading The Hunger Games. Granted, The Hunger Games is more girl-oriented with its cheesy romantic sub-plot, while Battle Royale, though it had its hints of romance, stayed more focused on the action, the manipulation and deception between the characters, and the interplay between trust and suspicion. There’s really too much that can be done with this kill-each-other premise; it’d be awesome to see a TV show based on Battle Royale. I also enjoyed this film’s villain, who managed to be wickedly hate-able at times, yet rather pity-able as the story went on. Though he’s still a creepy evil psychopath, he was a far more interesting character than the villains of The Hunger Games.
Overall, this was quite a fun film, but it felt rushed; there were so many subplots that could’ve been more developed had this been a TV show instead of a film. Maybe I’ll read the book someday; I saw it at Barnes and Noble last week.
Also, I’m not sure why, but some of the English subtitles were awfully translated, full of improper grammar. Almost as bad as “someone set up us the bomb”, at least near the end. Fortunately it wasn’t so bad that I could figure out what they were going for, but it was still annoying. I’m used the Criterion Collection’s nice subtitle work.