The phenomenal box-office success of The Hunger Games left us yearning for a repeat viewing of this Japanese classic, a profoundly subversive action movie that feels increasingly relevant with each passing year. Veteran director Fukasaku’s final feature is a lively adaptation of a controversial novel (and later Manga) positing a dystopian future where the government deposits a problem class of youths on a remote island, forcing them to participate in a deadly game: they must kill each other to survive, with TV audiences tuning in for the results. Sound familiar yet?
Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins insists she had never heard of Battle Royaleprior to penning her best-selling YA series – the similarities remain notable, but they’re decidedly different works. Played utterly straight, the tone here shifts violently (literally so) between overwrought teen melodrama and pulpy shocker, with winning results. Plus, filmmaker and cultural icon Takeshi ‘Beat’ Kitano is a howl in a droll turn as the teens’ put-upon teacher (Notes by Derek O’Connor.)
Showing as part of a Bang for your Buck: Action Movies 101 season throughout May.