Battle Royale schill
Wed Jan 10 06:59:09 EST 2001

So Battle Royale is not as bad as -- the worst movie you can think of.
Agreed. Technically, in fact, Fukasaku and his staff have done a superior
job, but to what end? For whatever claims it has to being a defense of
"anarchy against postwar Japan's vision of authority," the film is mainly
concerned with killing fifteen-year-olds in gruesomely creative ways (Arnold
S. may have much to answer for, but he's yet to skewer a teenage girl in the
forehead with a hunting knife). The back story about rising teen crime rates
and general social disorder is just an excuse to get on with the carnage.
This is not "Lord of the Flies" we're talking about here, folks -- it's
on-screen Mortal Kombat, with heads exploding like so many rotten pumpkins.

The point is not whether BR is as shocking and disgusting as the Minister of
Education seems to think it is. I, frankly, wasn't shocked or disgusted so
much as irritated that I'd wasted two hours with tripe. It's whether BR
belongs as one of the top ten films in the most prestigious critics poll in
Japan. I think its selection is a huge embarassment for Kinema Junpo and
highly indicative of the level of film criticism here -- at least as
practiced by KJ pollees.

Mark Schilling

PS. For those who are interested, I have attached my Japan Time review of
Battle Royale

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