Once upon a time, you couldn’t see this movie in America unless you knew somebody. Rumors were that it was banned, but it was really just snaggles over distribution contracts. Now, it’s a lot easier to find, though if you watch it, you might think it should be banned.
Somewhere in the near future, or a parallel universe, or something, Japan’s grownups are horribly afraid of their youth and unable to control them. Oh wait, that’s real. What isn’t is that in this parallel future whatever, the grownups randomly choose an 8th grade class, ship them to a remote island, and force them to battle to the death in the woods with weapons varying from a paper fan to an Uzi. And believe me – watching 14 year old kids tear each other apart is really different than watching adults do the same.
Battle Royale is loaded with metaphor, about teen angst and cliques and adults fearing kids and fascism and on and on, and it’s a pretty well-made movie. That doesn’t keep me from worrying that some kid somewhere is going to watch it and fantasize about beheading that girl who wouldn’t let him take her to the fall dance. This movie’s scary in a totally new way. (Or maybe I’m just getting old.)