Teenage Nightmare

Many of us out there have for a long time advocated the return of birching and national service for the young. But few would have gone as far as to suggest we have them battle to the death.

More fool us. This sterling idea has been put to good use in the plot of the 2000 Japanese thriller ‘Battle Royale’, a film reputed to be a favorite of Quentin Tarantino.


It’s set in a world where rebellious teens have got so out of hand, the government decides to have a yearly ‘Battle Royale’ in which one school class in the nation is chosen to fight to the death on an uninhabited island.

In the wrong hands this could be just a routine gorefest but director Kinji Fukasaku has a fine sense of black comedy and extracts many laughs out of his death scenes.

Right from the opening sequence when we are warned that the following film is unsuitable for those under sixteen, we are aware that the film has its tongue firmly in its teenage cheek.

Of course one thing goes through our minds when we are watching the latest group of teenagers meet their bloody ends …’Hey, wait a minute. Haven’t I seen the idea of young people fighting each other to death in another film recently?’

Yes you have and it’s called ‘The Hunger Games’. In my view there is simply no way that the makers of that film couldn’t have seen ‘Battle Royale’.  In addition, there’s probably no way that the writer of the book could not have been aware of the original Japanese novel that ‘Battle Royale’ was based on.

There’s a fine line between being inspired by and stealing from. I’ll give ‘Hunger Games’ a pass but I strongly recommend you see ‘Battle Royale’. New Yorkers will be pleased to note it is playing at IFC in the Village, giving you a chance to get the big screen impact of someone’s neck exploding. Surely an opportunity not to be missed.

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