With the UK’s government’s axe-wielding on education causing students to take to the streets of Britain, while the rest of the country sinks into a mire of apathy because society has been broken beyond repair, you’d be forgiving in thinking you were trapped in some dystopian nightmare like If or A Clockwork Orange.
In the latter film, loosely based on Anthony Burgess’s novella, a socialist regime introduces a new form of psychological conditioning in an effort to ‘reform’ criminals, but their social ideals backfire with terrifying results. Another film addressing the theme of ‘keeping the social order’ is Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale.
Based on the best-selling novel by Kōshun Takami, this violent futuristic drama was a big hit on its release back in 2000, and has since achieved worldwide cult status thanks to its disturbing themes and graphic violence.
Set in a near-future Japan, teenagers have lost total respect for their elders, forcing the totalitarian government to pass a new law in which those students who misbehave are sent to an isolated island where they are forced to fight each other to the death.
Takeshi ‘Beat’ Kitano stars as an abused teacher who turns the tables on his unruly charges. He kidnaps his class, puts exploding collars on each of the 42 students, then sends them out armed with a range of weapons and a deadly mission: they have three days in which to kill their other classmates or risk losing their heads. What follows is a bloody, brilliant series of set pieces in which the assorted students face poison, crossbows, machetes and dynamite in their quest to stay alive.
If you haven’t already seen Battle Royale, then there’s no better time. The twisted cult flick has just been lovingly restored with a high definition transfer on both Blu-ray and DVD, featuring both the theatrical and director cuts. There’s also a mega serving of extras that will keep any BR fan happy – the biggie being the exclusive 32-page comic, Parents’ Day, by Stefan Hutchinson and Barry Keating.
I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of politicians in the coalition government didn’t get Battle Royale in their Christmas stocking this year. I’m sure it will be food for thought as they try to come up with even more devious ways to control those pesky students who seem to be making a right mess of the government’s nefarious machinations.
Out now on DVD and Blu-Ray