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REVIEW – Battle Royale (2001)

July 7, 2011

THE ZONE has my review of  Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale: Director’s Cut, which has recently been re-released on DVD.

My review attempts to localise Battle Royale within a dystopian tradition which, it seems to me, is peculiarly Japanese. What distinguishes Battle Royale from many dystopian fictions starring plucky teenagers is that the film uses every possible opportunity to mock and ridicule the suffering of its teenaged scapegoats. Indeed, while writers in this tradition are quick to point the finger at governments that blame the young for social problems, works in this tradition also pour scorn on the youth that allow themselves to be victimised:

Again and again, Japanese genre writers depict modern Japan as a hellish place where the old lash out against the youth in ignorance, fear and hatred but the youth refuse to organise and refuse to do anything about their treatment thereby suggesting that no matter how immoral these old people might be, they are not entirely wrong about Japan’s passive, consumerist youth.

The ways in which Fukasaku mocks and trivialises his teenaged characters feeds directly into my one serious complaint about this re-edition: Was a Director’s Cut really necessary?

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