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The conflict between the generatins has gotten more & more violent to a
point where the grown-ups fear their own youths - to a point where they have
passed the Battle Royale act, a law that forces a randomly chosen class of
ninthgraders to fight each other on a remote deserted to last man standing.
As another class is introduced to the rules of the game - having been told
they would go on a class trip -, the students soon have to find out how
merciless the game is, as, even during instructing them, Kitano (Takeshi
Kitano) - a former teacher of them, who is despised by everyone including his
wife & his daughter Shiori (Ai Maeda), to whom he speaks on the phone
frequently, & who hates everyone back - kills 2 of them in front of
their very eyes, & has the massacred body of their teacher rolled in as a
vivid illustration of their situation. & to spice things up a bit, Kitano
has also thrown 2 transfer students into the mix, Kawada (Taro Yamamoto) &
Kiriyama (Masanobu Ando) - one because he has already once won the Battle
Royale, the other because he's a bloodthirsty bastard.
Every student is soon given a pack containing a random weapon - which could
be anything from a machine gun to ... a pot lid - & is sent outside into
the battlefield one by one. As Shuya & Noriko are sent out reloattively
late, they have to find out the game has already begun & reality shows its
grim face, as many of their former friends turned bloodthirsty beasts - but not
necessarily very successful in killing anyone but themselves - & petty
quarrels & minor intrigues suddenly prove good enough reasons to kill one
Some commit suicide to escape the bloody proceedings altogether, while
others like transfer student Kiriyama or beautiful but bitchy Mitsuko (Kou
Shibasaki) take a liking to killing their fellow students very soon.
All seems lost for Shuya & Noriko when they receive unexpected help from
transfer student Kwawda, who chooses the couple as his companions because they
remind him of Keiko (Minami), who he wanted to save her when he was in the last
Battle Royale, but when she betrayed him he had to kill her in order to stay
Shuya soon gets separated from Kawada & Noriko & is badly wounded,
but nursed back to health by Utsumi (Erie Ishikawa), who has secretly been in
love with him for the longest time, but who is soon killed by group dynamics
gone horribly wrong that lead to a deadly shoot-out. But Shuya learns
that electronics expert Mimura (Takashi Tsukamoto) might know a way out as he
has gained access to a computer, &, still weak, he heads back for Noriko
& Kawada, & after many more shoot-outs including the final demise of
Mitsuko, they actually get to Mimura, who has succeeded in rendering the Battle
Royale computers useless & providing them with a possible escape - but
unfortunately in addition to that he & his associates were found out by
Kiriyama & shot dead.
It soon turns out Kiriyama, Shuya, Noriko & Kawada are the last four
standing - & in a shoot out, Kawada even overcomes Kiriyama - only to tell
Shuya & Noriko he will kill them as well, only having used them as his
departure ticket all along ...
As he hears 2 shots, Kiätano automatically assumes Kawada has killed his
companions - with the computer hacked by Mimura before his demise, Kitano has
no longer access to the surveillance cameras -, dismisses his soldiers &
welcomes the winner of the game, Kawada. But to his surprise, Shuya &
Noriko turn up, too, & they are more than a little pissed & unwilling
to take his bad sick jokes lightly - & consequently shoot him when he
threatens them with a water pistol (Kitano's death scene is priceless). As the
trio leaves the island, Kawada dies from his injuries, the other 2 go
underground, wanted for murder ...
Back in the 70's, director Kinji Fukasaku gained acclaim & notoriety for
making some seminal yakuza movies (most notably Jingi Naki Tatakai/Battles without Honour & Humanity: The Yakuza Papers 
or Jingi no Hakaba/Graveyard of Honour
), but since at least the 80's his career has been on decline, with his
movies, while sometimes quite entertaining, being nothing more than standard
So who would have thought that, at the tdawn of a new millenium, this man
would deliver this uniquely bleak, cynical satire, that despite its blunt &
silly plot stays intelligent & thoughtful throughout, making it the best
antiutopian sci-fi-movie of its time ? What actually makes this movie work
quite as well as it does is not its thought-provoking concept itself but the
fact that it's packaged in a nice action-story that keeps things going at fast
speed, with violence & gore aplenty to keep things interesting - which is
more than one might say about quite a few action-flicks.