By Lime Blake
Director Quentin Tarantino’s all-time favourite film is now available for sale in North America. Cult classic Japanese horror movie Battle Royale was released on DVD and Blu-Ray on March 23 by Anchor Bay Entertainment in two versions: a single-disc format and a special four-disc collector’s pack.
The single disc version features the film’s director’s cut and both Japanese and English language tracks, but no special features. The collector’s box set features both theatrical and director’s cuts. Also included are the sequel, Battle Royale II: Requiem, and additional bonus content.
Battle Royale, based on a popular 1999 novel of the same name, is a tale set in a dystopian future, where society has collapsed and crime-rates among young offenders has increased. In order to re-establish patriotic fear and respect, the government has passed a law called the “BR Act”, a “survival program” that annually pits a lottery-selected class of ninth graders against each other in a death match spanning three days. Only one survivor emerges victorious, and if no one dies within 24 hours, everyone dies. If there is more than one survivor at the end of the three days, all those left alive die.
The film follows a boy who refuses to take part in the killing games, and instead vows to protect a fellow classmate and love interest. The duo meets up with a mysterious transfer student – who is the sole survivor of a previous “survival program” tournament. The three join forces to devise a way to get off of the island alive.
Initially released in 2000 by Toei Company, Battle Royale became popular in Japan among teenagers. Despite government chagrin to the film’s graphic violence, director Kinji Fukasaku encouraged teens to sneak into theatres to see the movie.
No official North American release was available until now due to distribution issues with Toei Company. However, circulating bootleg copies of the film’s theatrical and director’s cuts became cult classics among horror fans.
Tarantino has reportedly said that Battle Royale is his favourite movie since becoming a director in 1992.
The film’s March 23 home video release has sparked some debate between Battle Royale fans, and fans of The Hunger Games. Online, “BR” fans said The Hunger Games is a blatant rip-off of Battle Royale. Both movies share a similar plot about kids pitted against each other in a tournament of death. Both movies are also based off of popular young adult novels.
Author Suzanne Collins said she had never heard of Battle Royale or its author, Koushun Takami, until she handed in her own manuscript to her publisher. Collins said she was advised by her editor to ignore the aforementioned material.
However, the heated debate among fans of both franchises has played a part in the marketing and sales of Battle Royale’s home video release, said Anchor Bay executive Kevin Kasha.
“There’s a core fan base that has been looking for this movie, and that’s who we’re targeting with the boxed set … but with The Hunger Games coming out, there’s also a whole new market full of people who probably didn’t know Battle Royale existed,” Kasha said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.