Battle Royale

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Battle Royale Movie Poster Image
Ultraviolent Japanese cult movie came before Hunger Games.
  • NR
  • 2000
  • 122 minutes
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 35 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

There's an anti-totalitarian message that warns against brainwashing and the failure of critical thinking. Authority must be questioned sometimes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

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

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.

Sex

Many of the teens nurse crushes on one another, but most are very shy about admitting it. Some implied sexual violence.

Language

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."

Consumerism

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.

What 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.)

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byYoungAtheist November 15, 2013

Some Real Insight

It is fairly violent, yes, but more mature teenagers will be able to grasp the underlying themes of it. I feel as if most people on this site focus too much on... Continue reading
Adult Written byM B November 20, 2016

Boring ultraviolent movie

This film has a similar scenario to that of Hunger Games However it is ultraviolent. But this film is ultraviolent with completely explicit violence and unlike... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byTHE BR ACT August 16, 2012

10 x's better than the Hunger Games

This film was made first, showing it's superiority over the Hunger Games. I think boys might like Battle Royale better than the Hunger Games because of it... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byjustareviewer April 10, 2012

Finally! A Battle Royale Review

This movie is my favorite Japanese movie (with Ringu as a close second). Parents should know that the violence is extreme, with almost every classmate dying on-... Continue reading

What's the story?

In an alternate universe, the Japanese government seeks to control the country's youth with the annual "Battle Royale" tournament. A class of 50 ninth graders, hijacked during a class trip, are chosen for the games. They are fitted with explosive collars that also track their movements. Set loose upon an island, they are required to kill their classmates before time runs out; the survivor gets to go home alive. If they try to cheat, their collars will explode. They are given survival packs and weapons, which range from guns to a pot lid. As the game drags on, the number of survivors dwindles, but those that are left do not give up hope: there may be a last-ditch, desperate plan to save themselves.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's extreme violence. How does the movie use it, and what is the effect? Does it make you cheer or squirm? Or both? Could the same story be told with less violence?

  • What are the differences and similarities between Battle Royale and The Hunger Games? How do the messages of each movie compare?

  • Are there any strong female role models in this movie, compared with Katniss of The Hunger Games?

Movie details

For kids who love anime

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