Sunday, September 25, 2011
Top 100 Grab Bag #57: Battle Royale
When it comes to the concept of a horror film, or any film for that matter, there's usually lines and boundaries that are inherent in the structure of the script. What is taboo and what is accepted. The thing about Asian cinema is just how much the directors take on those taboos and obliterate them. Sometimes creating an entire film to doing that very purpose (the Guinea Pig series, the All Night Long films, Tetsuo: Iron Man) or infusing it into a genre film backed by masterful storytelling-- Park Chan Wok's Vengeance trilogy, Kim Ji Woo's I Saw the Devil, Takashi Miike's countless genre films, etc. Yes, the violence is intense. But the vision is wholly uncompromising. & in that respect, elevates the level of intensity and drive of the characters.
The notion of a civil unrest and a nation terrorized by its youth has been done before on smaller scale. Narciso Ibanez Serrador's Who Can Kill A Child is a prime example. But what Royale has in spades that so many faux B movie knockoffs of the present don't is the conviction to stay true to its concept. The astounding thing about Battle Royale is that the entire concept & plot is taboo to begin with. It's the Lord of the Flies taken to the next level. One of those films that could not possibly be remade on American shores. Koushon Takami's graphic novel has become a cult classic and rightfully so. It rigorously goes over the multitude of scenarios that can be possible when faced with this dilemma.
One must take into account- these are actual teenage actors playing these roles. Putting even more bite into the synopsis. Here is a film that fully embraces its controversial concept and rides it out to the very end.