Hey There Actionites -
Many of you are aware that last year ActionFest held a rare screening of Battle Royale, the controversial Kinji Fukasaku film from 2000. I bring this up today of all days because Battle Royale offers more than a little inspiration to the blockbuster around the corner, The Hunger Games. I’ve seen Battle Royale many times, and I’ve read The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (although haven’t caught the movie yet). So, the pressing question is (obviously) which movie would beat up the other movie in a cage match?
Battle Royale takes place in a “not too distant future” in which the frightened ruling adults of Japan enact a terrifying law. Under the Battle Royale law, one random class of high school students will be selected for the game, placed on an isolated island, and forced to kill each other until only 1 survivor remains. The game has lots of rules, such as a collar around each contestants’ neck, ensuring that all will die at the end of the weekend if there is more than 1 survivor. (Which therefore forces the kids to either fight, die, or kill themselves). Sound dark? It is! But Battle Royale is possibly best viewed as a black comedy and a fable reminding us all to have a healthy distrust of our elders. Beat Takeshi’s comedy chops almost steal the show from all the amazing and explosive violence.
Taking place in a VERY distant future, The USA has been divided into various Districts, all ruled by the Roman Empire-esque Capitol. In a state sanctioned contest called The Hunger Games, one young man and woman from each district is randomly chosen to participate in gladiatorial combat. Our hero Katniss Everdeen volunteers for the Games in order to save her younger sister from playing when her name is drawn. Once again, at the end of the contest, only one player may be left alive. And may the odds be ever in the favor of that winner. The Hunger Games is an action-adventure story with a compelling love triangle, but it is ultimately more about sacrifice, survival, and tyranny.
Well, Battle Royale clearly wins in the carnage department. The film is a hard-R rated piece of action entertainment. But The Hunger Games portrays a much more bleak future with the characters living in an even harsher reality than those of Battle Royale; even if the target audience is young adults. So while Battle Royale rules the body count, I’ve got to believe that Katniss Everdeen would waste any of the students from Battle Royale (even though she wouldn’t like it).
What do you think? Did I cop out on the winner? Am I dead on?
And I’m Out.