“Battle Royale” (2000)
“So today’s lesson is, you kill each other off till there’s only one left.
Nothing’s against the rules!”
– Teacher Kitano
“Stand still, I only have a frying pan.”
It’s difficult to go online these days without running into a reference to Fortnite Battle Royale or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (“PUBG”). For the purpose of this piece, most observances will be gleaned from my experiences at PUBG. I tend to prefer Fortnite for its co-op multiplayer mode, in which you and teammates focus on building bases, defending checkpoints, and smashing monsters. But that’s just me. A team player. Yep.
Anyway, these multiplayer rumbles throw a hundred players out of an airplane/flying bus(?) and into an expansive and seemingly abandoned area, only to make them battle to the death with whatever weapons they can get their hands on. Weapons range from machetes and sickles to pistols, shotguns, and more. If you are lucky, you might be able to intercept an air-dropped care package in order to obtain some of the game’s most powerful items. For example, there’s a Ghillie suit to wear, letting you live out your Swamp Thing cosplay dreams. There’s also an adrenaline syringe a la Pulp Fiction, though an OD’d Mia Wallace is nowhere to be seen. Keep in mind that even looking at these bonus packages with your human eyes paints a giant target on your back. Everybody loves free stuff, after all.
In addition to weapons and accessories, there are also numerous power-ups to be found, such as bandages, first-aid kits, and everyone’s favorite…pills! Yes, nothing helps one recover from massive wounds like guzzling a bottle of Brand X pain reliever.
In order to keep teams moving, as each match progresses the playing area gradually shrinks. Standing outside of the designated zone, or circle, will cause your health to decline. Slowly at first, but quite rapidly by the final stages of the match. Depending on how events play out, you could eventually find yourself battling the enemy in a circle the size of a phone booth (Google those if you’re not quite sure what they are).
Friends can play together in teams of two, three, or four. For those who prefer the single life or an extra challenge, you can also head out into the unknown on your own. Regardless of your party size, games will typically end with you bellowing curse words into your gaming headset. This normally occurs after dying via a sniper’s bullet from across the map, getting flattened by a car you didn’t even hear coming, or wondering how someone killed you with a crowbar despite your bulletproof vest and military helmet.
With a bit of skill and a lot of luck, you could be fortunate enough to be the only team standing at the end of the game. This is referred to as “Victory Royale” in Fortnite or the deliciously named “Winner Winner Chicken Dinner” in PUBG. Winning gets you some bonus points to spend on extra clothing for your character. Nothing too exciting here at the moment. Maybe an identical red t-shirt to go with your other two, or a tactical pair of skinny jeans. You also get bragging rights and hopefully some nice footage for your highlight reel. If you’re streaming your game online for friends and internet strangers to watch, you’ll probably hear how much you suck and be threatened with new and shocking things to fit inside your own ass. And then, as if the past 10-20 minutes never happened, you’ll find yourself back on that goddamn airplane and ready to start again from scratch.
So, why all the gaming talk? Isn’t this a movie blog? Well, yes. These games call to mind several dystopian, combat-oriented films. Some might say Lord of the Flies, while others may be partial to the Hunger Games series. Still others might say Harry Potter, though I think they probably weren’t paying attention and just like to talk about Harry Potter for some reason. For me, I’m always reminded of Battle Royale.
Hey, DT! Convince me! So why…: Battle Royale?
Based on the novel by Koushun Takami, Battle Royale takes place in a dark timeline where a class of young Japanese students is forced by a governmental program to eliminate each other over the course of three days until only one winner remains. Failure to participate in the program or adhere to the rules will result in the detonation of an explosive collar placed around the neck of each student.
Unlike in the aforementioned video games, where players only have the clothing on their backs (and sometimes not even that) and have to fight for every item, the kids in Battle Royale are each given a small pack with some supplies and even a “weapon.”
(Well, you’ll see.)
While the movie does jump around among the 42 members of Class B, I like to think there are three main characters: nice guy Shuya Nanahara, nice gal Noriko Nakagawa, and the mysterious loner Shogo Kawada. Without giving too much away, these kids will encounter a variety of their fellow students during their struggle for survival. And, as you’d expect, the stress of the situation affects different students in different ways. The next student they bump into could be a useful ally or a deadly foe. When every player has the same goal in mind, can anyone really be trusted?
Now that you’re here, check out:
Beat Takeshi (Takeshi Kitano), Japanese TV personality/comedian/actor/director/etc! In Battle Royale, Takeshi turns in a great performance as Class B’s instructor, Teacher Kitano. Kitano really seems to be enjoying the Battle Royale program. At least someone is, I guess?
Many Americans will probably recognize Takeshi from Most Extreme Elimination Challenge, which was re-purposed from a Japanese program called Takeshi’s Castle. Running those obstacle courses always looked like a blast to me, but anything would be more appealing than being hunted on an island by my bloodthirsty classmates.
This is the end…
Ready to see how a PUBG or Fortnite match would turn out in “real life?” Tired of getting headshot by snot-nosed kids and ready to kick back with a gritty survival flick? Even if you’ve been hiding in a bush and have missed out on the survival game trend, Battle Royale is here for you. Considered a highly controversial film upon its release due to its subject matter, Battle Royale‘s violence now doesn’t seem much more shocking than what we’re subjected to far too frequently on our news programs. We here at Titan Town will totally understand if you decide to skip this one. But, if you’re ready, grab your frying pan and start running because…in the end, there can only be one survivor.