Batoru rowaiaru [2000]

With the Japanese currently leading the way in thought-provoking cinematic violence, it's only fitting that Kinji Fukasaku's Battle Royale is being touted as a Clockwork Orange for the 21st century. Based on the novel by Koshun Takami, the film opens with a series of fleeting images of unruly Japanese schoolchildren, whose bad behavior provides a justification for the "punishments" that will ensue. Once the prequel has been dispensed with, the classmates are drugged and awaken on an island where they find they have been fitted with dog collars that monitor their every move. Instructed by their old teacher ("Beat" Takeshi) with the aid of an upbeat MTV-style video, they are told of their fate: after an impartial lottery they have been chosen to fight each other in a three-day, no-rules contest, the "Battle Royale." Their only chance of survival is through the death of all their classmates. Some pupils embrace their mission with zeal, while others simply give up or try to become peacemakers and revolutionaries. However, the ultimate drive for survival comes from the desire to protect the one you love. Battle Royale works on many different levels, highlighting the authorities' desperation to enforce law and order and the alienation caused by the generation gap. Whether you consider the film an important social commentary or simply watch it for the adrenaline-fueled violence, this is set to become cult viewing for the computer game generation and beyond. --Nikki Disney

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