A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.)
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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.
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?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.