A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
There's an anti-totalitarian message that warns against brainwashing and the failure of critical thinking. Authority must be questioned sometimes.
Positive Role Models
Almost all of the teens fall very quickly into the game, killing their friends and schoolmates without a second thought. Even the good ones who attempt to resist eventually find themselves embracing violence or illicit activities to survive. The adults, on the other hand, are almost purely evil.
Violence & Scariness
The violence in the movie is over-the-top and unrealistic, but still very intense. It includes knives and stabbing, arrows, crossbows, guns of all types, shooting, grenades, explosions, fighting, poison, severed and/or exploding heads, an ax to the head, suicide, arguing, and lots of blood and gore. A teen discovers his father's dead body (hanging after a suicide). A teacher smacks (and kills) his teen students. A mother accepts money to allow a man to sexually abuse her daughter. A teen tries (and fails) to force himself on another teen girl.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Many of the teens nurse crushes on one another, but most are very shy about admitting it. Some implied sexual violence.
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Language is in English subtitles, and foul language doesn't really start to appear until the last third. Words include "f--k," "s--t," "damn," "Goddamn," and "asshole."
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Products & Purchases
A bottle of Tanqueray gin is seen in a flashback. Signs for Coca-Cola and Tower Records are seen in the epilogue.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Teens are seen smoking occasionally, and drinking from a flask. Adults also drink alcohol from time to time.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Battle Royale is a super-violent Japanese sci-fi film from 2000, telling roughly the same story as The Hunger Games, but with a different perspective. The fights and killings are more over-the-top and cartoonish, with a great deal more blood. Some sexual violence is implied, and teen crushes develop though nothing intimate occurs. Language, in the English subtitles, contains a few strong words such as "f--k" and "s--t," and teens are seen both drinking and smoking. Thanks to high praise from some noted directors and critics, this movie is a considered a cult classic and may be on a must-see list for cinema-savvy teens. (Note: there is a 114-minute theatrical cut and a 122-minute, unrated cut.) To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Battle Royale was the final film by the Japanese exploitation master Kinji Fukasaku, who was 70 at the time, and he clearly put everything he had into it. Despite the 122-minute running time, it's exquisitely paced and balanced, varying periods of rest and hope with periods of shock and violence. The huge cast of teens -- including future Kill Bill star Chiaki Kuriyama -- is handled well. Characters unexpectedly reveal new sides of their personalities, i.e. sudden courage or cowardice.
Fukasaku plays the movie for bloody thrills while keeping the sinister message in the background. Viewers will likely find themselves thinking about the movie long afterward, as it grows richer. The final masterstroke is the casting of filmmaker/performer Takeshi Kitano (who acts under a stage name, "Beat" Takeshi), as the former teacher and current ringmaster. He brings a very dark, deadpan humor to his role, as well a quiet thoughtfulness, turning him into one of the great tragic movie villains.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.