Battle Royale - The Complete Collection: BD Review
Mar 6th, 2012
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The bloody Japanese cult classic finally gets an American high-def release, but should fans stick with a single-disc edition or the Complete Collection Blu-ray box set....?
Anchor Bay / 114 Minutes / 2000 / Unrated / Street Date: March 20, 2012
We're only weeks away from the megaplex debut of The Hunger Games - a series roundly assailed as being - dare I say - a rip-off of Battle Royale - so it's a bloody, feverish treat to return to Kinji Fukasaku's original film to see just how things started in the first place. Aside from concept and basic narrative thrust, this 2000 film is pretty darned disparate from Suzanne Collins' books, but they nevertheless traverse similar thematic territory.
In fact, a rewatching of Battle Royale makes Hunger Games seem positively limp by comparison. The whole cat-and-mouse setup here doesn't necessarily need to be hyper-violent, but the act of one person literally hunting another person isn't exactly touchy-feely. What Fukasaku understands in Battle Royale that Collins as an author can't quite make a case for in her books is that there is a slippery, fascinating moral/physiological quandry that informs the human instinct for survival.
That being said, Battle Royale is no thinkfilm. No, this tale of a group of forty-two high-school students who are sedated and transported to a distant island, then instructed that they are to hunt each other without hesitation or compassion, or they will be murdered. The last student alive gets to go home. And while the movie's grotesque violence is very often not all that easy to stomach, the kinetic force of Fukasaku's film is nevertheless irresistible. It's The Most Dangerous Game with governmental conspiracies, ultra-violence and teen angst thrown in for good measure. Beat that, Suzanne Collins!
The question, though, is whether to opt for the single-disc BD release of the movie or this Complete Collection box set. The differences between the director's cut and the theatrical versions of the original Battle Royale are minimal (additional footage doesn't exactly flush things out to any major degree), and Battle Royale II: Requiem - the movie's sequel - is a total bust. So it all comes down to audio/video quality and bonuses. Let's check it out....