[IMDB link] [Netflix link] Unfortunately, we did not watch the director’s cut. And wow. Battle Royale 1 was rated 8.0/10 on IMDB, barely missing the Top 250. Battle Royale 2 is only rated 4.7/10. Big difference in people’s opinions! They are more similar to each other than any other movie, so I don’t see the point of making such a huge discernment between the two.
QUIRKS: Three years after the events of Battle Royale 1, the surviving children have formed a terrorist group that has performed a 9/11 style attack on Japan, downing 7 skyscrapers. (Including 2 of equal height right next to each other, like the World Trade Centers.) In response to this, the government creates Battle Royale 2 — a program to send more students in to kill the first students. And we all know how well government regulation works, right?
This movie is on a grander scale than Battle Royale 1. It’s more of a war than a game.
PEOPLE: Director Kinji Fukasaku died while filming this, his 65th movie. He had terminal cancer. Doctors told him to remain in the hospital. He refused, and directed this instead. But he didn’t make it, so his son took over.
Quentin Tarantino was almost cast as the president of the USA, but instead they didn’t have him at all.
VISUALS: The violence plays out more like war movie violence than the random kinds of violence featured in Battle Royale 1. This is because everyone simply has guns, instead of different, unique weapons. This makes the violence more precise and less personal, and the gore a bit more generic. But boy are there a lot of action scenes! There’s even an homage to Saving Private Ryan and the D-Day Invasion (which my grandfather participated in as part of 1st Infantry); shot on similar film stock even.
The characters were a bit easier to keep track of, due to having more unique visual appearances. Not everyone had generic-Japanese-person hair. Though they did kill off the blonde girl really quickly… Overall, this has a more modern look and feel than Battle Royale 1.
MORALS/POLITICS: The basic moral is one of moral relativity. The kids in this movie are considered terrorists — and have indeed taken many innocent lives in their cause. But I would say the events of Battle Royale 1 justified them making a strike back at the adult world via any means necessary. Frankly, calling your enemy “terrorists” has been one of the greatest political hijackings of critical thought in history; only exacerbated by the real events of 9/11. In this movie, the “bad guys” — the terrorists — are the good guys. Yes, they killed innocent adults. But adults killed innocent children first in the game of Battle Royale 1.
And more importantly, outside of Japan, children all over the world are being killed due to the whims of adults. The movie starts out with a scene of a teacher listing a LONG list of countries. At the end, he explains that these are all the countries USA has bombed. 8 million dead. And you can bet a lot of children died. And why? Does our country even get attacked?
In real life, we lost a whopping 3,000 on 911, and 2,000 at Pearl Harbor. In the movie, we bombed 8 million. If you divide 8,000,000 by 5,000, you get 1,600. Yes, it’s kind of weird to compare real life numbers to hypothetical numbers in a movie, but the ratio of deaths here is 1600. If we are killing 1600 in response for every 1 of ours killed, you can bet we’re the ones killing more children than our enemies. (Plus, Pearl Harbor and the World Trade Centers aren’t exactly places where kids hangout, UNlike the many residential apartments we’ve bombed.) So children striking back at various countries, including the U.S., would be totally justified in a movie like this.
BAD STUFF: I still think they should have used the song Kids Are United (“Kids Are United! We can never be divided!”) by Atari Teenage Riot (originally by Sham 69) at some point! And I’m not sure how long that pipeline was! Kind of unrealistic to be able to [highlight for spoilers]→ escape from an island via an underground tunnel. But we shall ignore such flaws, rather than dwell on them.
CONCLUSION: A lot of people don’t like this as well as Battle Royale 1. To an extent, I agree that it’s not quite as good. The action was a bit more mindless. However, this made up for that by being more politically relevant than Battle Royale 1. The politics and point of this movie was a bit grander than the movie itself. Moreso than Battle Royale 1.
RECOMMENDATION: If you’ve seen Battle Royale 1, there’s no reason NOT to watch the sequel. While it lacks some elements of what people liked in BR1, it is more of the same on a grander scale. I also liked Saw 2 more than Saw 1 for similar reasons: The “game” has expanded and become more than it originally was.
SIMILAR MOVIES: This actually plays out like a lot of war movies.
MOVIE QUOTE: 1) Shuya Nanahara: We declare war on all adults!
2) Shuya Nanahara: How much blood has been shed? How many tears spilled? All of our friends who fought beside us are dead, killed in the last three years. But even as justice can never be vanquished, we terrorists will never vanish, however evil they deem us. Because we know, that a handful of adults, a handful of ‘nature’ selfishly define the nature of peace as freedom in this world. But our world is so much more complex that. This world has 63 Billion people living their own lives, living 63 billion different ways, 63 billion kinds of peace, 63 billion kinds of concepts of what is “good”, 63 billion kinds of war and evil. No one has achieved peace without fighting for it. … Behind every peace, there’s a river of blood, sweat and tears. But if we avert our eyes from that history and abandon it, then peace might as well be dog shit.
COINCIDENCES: (Infestation, Battle Royale 2) 2 movies within 3 nights where people who were basically going to die anyway started smoking, and coughed a lot because they didn’t know how to smoke.
(Sleep Dealer, Battle Royale 2) 2 movies 2 nights in a row with “good” guys that are “terrorists”.
And here’s the Atari Teenage Riot Sham 69 cover I mentioned earlier, which I wish they’d used at some point:
P.S. This movie takes place on 12/24-26, same time of year as this post! :)
Mood: not quite tired yet
Music: KMFDM – Virus