czwartek, 23 maja 2013

Battle Royale - バトル・ロワイアル

              Imagine a beautiful island with tall, lush, green trees. Blue sky, birds and the ocean breaking on the rocks. And kids running around killing each other. And NO ... I'm not writing about "The Hunger Games" - although I will next time :).

I'm writing about "Battle Royale" or バトル・ロワイアル (Batoru Rowaiaru) a Japanese blockbuster movie from year 2000 made by a famous Japanese director - Kinji Fukasaku. The film is based on an equally famous and acclaimed novel of the same title written by Koushun Takami.

Few words about the plot. We have a high-school bus full of kids going on a field trip. To their horror, however, during the bus ride they are gassed and transported to a misterious island where their former teacher - with a help of a cheerful and cute instructor - tells them that they were chosen for the annual Battle Royale game. They will receive a bag with supplies, some kind of weapon (which vary from fire arms to binoculars) and a collar, which will transmit their location. Their only job is to kill one another untill only one of them stays alive at the end of the third day. If they enter a danger zone their head will explode - another usage of the collar. As simple as that :)

Throughout the movie we observe how the students struggle with the situation. Some cannot accept the new reality and they choose suicide, some try to hide, others try to ally with friends hoping that it will be possible to survive without killing anyone. There are those, however, who quite like that game and are very eager to follow the rules.

When I saw the movie it was a very different cinema from other movies I have seen. Firstly, it's not American and the Japanese style of making movies is quite distinct. Secondly, the emotions shown on the screen (as well as the emotions themselves) are different because Japanese culture is so different from my culture or the European culture at large. In Polish television there aren't many opportunities to watch Asian movies, so I was very curious how the cinema looks there, how they make their films :). It was a new experience not only from the "movie watching" point of view, but also in terms of learning something about different cultures. No to mention that Japanese language sounds beautifully :)

An important point is that the movie has some big names in it or that it made some actors famous. I would like to hint at few of my favorites:

Tatsuya Fujiwara (Shuya Nanahara) a main male character in the film. He doesn't want to kill his friends and he allies with Noriko to protect her. Fujiwara is quite a recognized actor for his film and theater roles. His biggest movies are: Battle Royale, Death Note films and The Incite Mill. I reccomend Moonlight Jellyfish as well :)
Aki Maeda (Noriko Nakagawa) a main female character, who allies with Nanahara and wants to run away from the island.
Masanobu Ando (Kiriyama Kazuo) a sociopath killer who murders the biggest number of students. Due to a car accident he is unable to feel any emotions and it is rumored that he entered the competition voluntarily. I absolutely love this actor, whose character was superbly done. He was very scary. I reccomend: A Juvenile Big Bang Love69Sukiyaki Western Django (co-operation with Quentin Tarantino), Kids Return, and Nightmare Detective. All and all - an actor worth remembering.
Kou Shibasaki (Mitsuko Souma) as deadly as Kiriyama, said to be the most beautiful and sexy girl in school. She uses her looks to win the game. Shibasaki is a very diverse actress. From a killer to a mute violinist - she can become anyone on the screen. Other movies to see: DororoShaolin Girl47 Ronin and J-drama Orange Days
Chiaki Kuriyama (Takako Chigusa) the fastest runner in the class and a very clever girl. She was noticed and eventually casted in Kill Bill as O-Ren Ishii's (Lucy Liu) personal bodyguard.
Takeshi Kitano (Kitano) is the former teacher, who becomes a sort of host of the new Battle Royale game. Takeshi Kitano - or Beat Takeshi - is a multi-talented person. He is an actor, film director, singer, comedian, film screenwriter, film producer, poet, painter and many more. An absolute icon in Japan and well known in the States.

Battle Royale's official seal

The competitors

After watching "Battle Royale" I became more interested in Japanese movies. Their cinema and world perception are unique and like a breath of fresh air in the American dominated cinema. For those who are searching for something new :)

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