Tuesday, January 26, 2010

tm Does the QT 20 Part 10: Battle Royale

Hi friends! With this review tm is halfway through the Tarantino 20. Recently someone took very angry exception to a review here on the blog, and felt it deserved an angry in-store tirade, so a word or two about opinions...

Like the kids say, they're like assholes; everyone has one. The reviews are strictly the opinions of those who write them, not the store at large, and no one makes any claims to authority. I don't agree with some of them. Take tm's review of Battle Royale, below. I think it's better than he gives it credit for being, but here it is nonetheless. It's tm's opinion, which he is sharing. Ditto for my reviews. Accept them, or don't. If you don't, write why in the comments section if you'd like! There's no reason why you should take this blog more seriously than we do! The end. - CJB

Battle Royale (aka Batoru rowaiaru; dir. Kinji Fukasaku - 2000)

Of the list of 20 movies, this is the movie that Quentin singled out as being his favourite (the rest being tied for 2nd...or 20th, I guess). And in case anybody was wondering where he got the idea of deadly uniformed Japanese school kids from Kill Bill 1, this is probably where he got the idea...
Set in the near future, Japan enacted a law where the class of one school would be forced to engage in a 3-day long battle to the death on a remote island – if one person was alive at the end of it, that person is free to leave; if more than one was alive at the end of the contest, they’d all be killed. (The reasons for the Japanese parliament passing this law are a little wanting - At the dawn of the millennium, the nation collapsed. At fifteen percent unemployment, ten million were out of work. 800,000 students boycotted school. The adults lost confidence, and fearing the youth, eventually passed the Millennium Educational Reform Act... Not exactly compelling reasons for 40 kids to kill each other but whatever...)

And just to make things further interesting, there are two kids thrown in the mix that aren’t part of the class – one quickly establishes himself a psychopath. And everybody’s been fitted with necklaces that can explode. And a former teacher of the class (who left because a student stabbed him in the leg), played by Takeshi Kitano, who’s also in charge of the Japanese soldiers that are monitoring this event; he announces who’s died, what sectors of the island are off-limits, etc.

The movie focuses on two kids – a boyfriend/girlfriend who team up and try to find allies to figure out a way to survive; they find one group of kids who’s trying to hack into the soldier’s monitoring system, one group of girls camps out in a lighthouse (I was hoping for a pillow-fight but instead get a very QT close-quarter gunfight ending in a massacre), etc. Of course, these two are one of the last few left standing, and there are questions about what will happen since only one of them can survive...

This is basically a caged, high-octane version Lord of the Flies – some kids strike out on their own, some team up despite knowing that only one will survive, some have no trouble killing classmates, others are so racked with guilt that they commit suicide. At times the plot gets a little sketchy, the editing gets a little sloppy, and acting a little stiff (but, hey, they are teenagers), but it’s a pretty good action flick.

tm sez: 7/10

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