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2000 Japanese dystopian thriller film adapted from the 1999 novel of the same name by Koushun Takami. It was the final film directed by Kinji Fukasaku. It received a global audience and critical acclaim. It is often regarded as one of Fukasaku’s best films, and one of the best films of the 2000s. In 2009, filmmaker Quentin Tarantino praised Battle Royale as the best film he had seen in the past two decades. Fukasaku started working on a sequel, Battle Royale II: Requiem, but he died of prostate cancer on January 12, 2003, after shooting only one scene with Takeshi Kitano. Battle Royale has been influential in global popular culture.
Middle school student Shuya Nanahara copes with life after his father committed suicide. Noriko Nakagawa is the only student regularly attending class 3-B. Their teacher, Kitano, resigns after being wounded by a student. One year later, class 3-B takes a field trip, but they are gassed and taken to a remote island. The first six hours see twelve deaths, four by suicide, and most caused by the desperate, psychotic Mitsuko Souma and psychopathic volunteer Kazuo Kiriyama.
Transfer student Shogo Kawada lets Shuya go, while basketball player Shinji Mimura plots to hack into the military’s computer system to disrupt the program. Amid shifting loyalties and violent confrontations, Shuya promises to keep Noriko safe as Yoshitoki secretly loved her. Shuya awakens in the island’s lighthouse, bandaged by female class representative Yukie Utsumi, who has a crush on him. Five other girls are also hiding in the building, including Yuko Sakaki, who attempts to poison Shuya out of fear for Tatsumichi Oki who she saw die and believes that Shuya had killed him, only for Yuka to accidentally eat the food. On the morning of the final day, Kawada, aware of the collars’ internal microphones, seemingly kills Shuya and Noriko. Suspicious, Kitano ends the game and dismisses the troops, intent on personally killing the supposed victor.
Kitano realizes that Kawada hacked the system months beforehand, and has disabled Shuya and Noriko’s tracking devices. Shuya, Noriko and Kawada leave the island on a boat, but Kawada dies from injuries, happy that he found friendship. Shuya and Noriko are declared fugitive murderers, and are last seen on the run in the direction of Shibuya Station. Noriko gives Shuya a Seto Dragon Claw butterfly knife before they run off together. Roughly 6,000 actors auditioned for the film, which was narrowed down to 800 potential cast members. These finalists were subjected to a 6-month period of physical fitness training under supervision of the director, Kinji Fukasaku, who eventually cast 42 out of the 800.
Despite the characters being middle school students, Aki Maeda, Yukihiro Kotani, Takayo Mimura, Yukari Kanasawa were the only four who were aged 15 to 16 years old. The other members of the cast had all graduated from secondary education, and Tarō Yamamoto and Masanobu Andō were the oldest among the actors, aged 25. Kinji Fukasaku stated that he decided to direct the film because the novel it was adapted from reminded him of his time as a 15-year-old munitions factory worker during World War II. At that time, his class was made to work in a munitions factory. In July 1945, the factory came under artillery fire. Beat Takeshi told a documentary crew during filming that he believes “an actor’s job is to satisfy the director I move the way I’m told to.
I try to look the way I’m told to. I don’t know much about the emotional side”, before adding, “Mr. Fukasaku told me to play myself. I did not really understand, but he told me to play myself, as I ordinarily would be! I’m just trying to do what he tells me. The song used during the end credits, “Shizuka na Hibi no Kaidan o” by the rap rock band Dragon Ash, is not included in either the Japanese or French edition of the soundtrack.