Issue #4 March 17th - March 30th, 2006

DVD Review:
Battle Royale
By: Adrian Fallwell

Battle Royale, released in Japanese theatres at the end of 2000, opened amidst a firestorm of controversy, including special screenings by Japan’s parliament. Based on the novel by Koushun Takami, the story is of a harsh government creed, labeled the BR Act, where every year a randomly-selected 9th-grade class is kidnapped, sent to a remote deserted island, and forced to kill each other until only one survivor remains. Remote-explosive collars around their necks are used to ensure this outcome, so that if more than one remains, they all die.

The movie was directed by veteran filmmaker, Kinji Fukasaku, whose career spans back to the early ‘60s, when he started working with the now famous action star, Sonny Chiba. Fukasaku died of prostate cancer in 2003, during the making of Battle Royale II, at which point his son, Kenta, who wrote the screenplay for both movies, took over and finished the film. Battle Royale stars Takeshi “Beat” Kitano, recently known for his remake of Zatoichi, the blind swordsman, and Chiaki Kuriyama, known to American audiences as Gogo Yubari, Lucy Liu’s deadly minion in Kill Bill: Vol. 1.

A few months after the original release of Battle Royale, Fukasaku released a special version of the movie, with additional footage and improved audio and visual effects. He purposefully avoided calling it a director’s cut because they actually shot much of the additional footage after the movie was made. The purpose behind this adds background to some of the characters and explains a few loose ends that were confusing in the original. Fans tend to agree that the special version flows better, but the english subtitles for the extra footage scenes were not translated well. Also, the DVD extras do not have english subtitles at all.

Battle Royale was rumored to be banned in the U.S., but that is not the case. The blame shifts back and forth, but basically the major distributors don’t want the controversy, and Toei Company, Ltd., who own rights to the film, are asking for more money than smaller distributors can afford. As far as getting a NTSC(American standard) versioin of the film, the U.K. company, Tartan, released the original version, and a Korean company, Starmax, released the special version, but both have gone out of print. There is now a box set, containing both versions of BR I, as well as BR II and extras, released by the Korean company, Wision.

All of this and a plethora of more information can be found at There, you can also get a much better translation of the extra scenes in the special version, which is well worth the little effort. You can rent the very-hard-to-find special version of Battle Royale from our sponser, Digital Video Depot. On a final note, there was a 15 volume manga (Japanese graphic novel) published after the movie, more hardcore in nature, which I happened to notice a few copies of at Rainbow Records.

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©2006 NONCO Media, L.L.C.