It’s hard to believe that something as lame as The Hunger Games has managed to capture the imaginations of millions. If anything, it’s good to see the kids reading. Literate children is not a bad thing. But there’s a disconnect at play here. There's a failure to bring young readers into the literary tradition. The same can be said about movies, and that’s thankfully an example that The Hunger Games manages to satisfy.
If it could be said that the books owe a stylistic debt to Richard Connell’s short story The Most Dangerous Game, then it stands to reason that there’s a stylistic lineage between The Hunger Games films and Kinji Fukasaku’s film Battle Royale – itself an adaptation of Koushun Takami’s novel of the same name.
So why all the pedantic pooh-poohing? Because Battle Royale, now a 15-year-old film, is still leaps and bounds a better film, from concept to execution, than the far-more successful aforementioned film franchise.
It’s also an insanely badass film that was destined to inhabit the realms of classic cult cinema.
The premise is simple: After a collapse in the governmental structure of Japan and the en masse walkout of 800,000 students, the adults create the “Battle Royale Act” where students are forced into a designated area with minimal provisions and instructed to kill one another off until one remains.
As a splatter fiesta of over-the-top dying and campy motifs, the film is an instant winner and deserving of its fame beyond Japanese borders and well-earned domestic box-office returns. As an exploration of human nature, isolationism, and government-sponsored paranoia, it begs numerous viewings for its artistic nuances.
While the point of the story is to kill off the offending and dangerous youth, it is an actual celebration of the indomitable spirit of youth and the unrestrained creative powers of young people.
With the inimitable and instantly recognizable Takeshi Kitano in an acting role (he might be best known to Western audiences as one of Japan’s most famous and creative contemporary film directors, Beat Takeshi), Battle Royale’s initial run was filled with controversy as numerous entities fought hard to ban or change the controversial subject matter. All this free publicity might’ve ensured the film’s success, but of its own merit, it would’ve triumphed anyways.
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Back in 2009, Quentin Tarantino even said it was his favorite film since joining the industry.
Now, both fans and first-time viewers can enjoy it again on the big screen. Locals Morbid Movies have partnered with Tugg and Palm Beach County Grindhouse for an exclusive, one-night showing of this modern cult classic in celebration of the film turning the age of its protagonists. With ticket reservations, guests will have a chance at winning a $200-plus-value horror prize pack raffle. Tickets are available here.
Filmgoers can hang out afterward at the Brass Monkey Tavern to revel in some postgore chit-chat and plan island getaways over a few beers.
Morbid Movies, Tugg, and Palm Beach County Grindhouse present Battle Royale at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 22, at Movies of Lake Worth, 7380 Lake Worth Road, Lake Worth. Tickets cost $12. Visit morbidmovies.com.