Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 18
  • Action
  • 2000
  • 113 mins

Battle Royale

Battle Royale


Bizarre and often brilliant Japanese film about a class of school children put on an island and forced to fight to the death. Features Takeshi Kitano as the ex-teacher compere


This is a different kind of high school movie. It does all the things other teen movies do: the Japanese teens in Battle Royale have painful crushes on each other, try to look cool and don't trust the adults. But they have also been drugged and placed on an island and told to kill each other. In this alternative Japan, social cohesion has broken down so far that the government has passed the Battle Royale Act, and, as a symbolic punishment, one school class a year has to fight down to a final winner. And if more than one person is left alive, all the survivors die (thanks to the charming device of explosive collars round their necks).

But even that extreme premise doesn't capture the tone of Battle Royale. It's a film that veers between murderous slapstick and typically Japanese cornball sentimentality. One of the tricky things about it is knowing how seriously to take the love-conquers-all moral - even as we race through the deaths of dozens of kids.

In Japan, where the establishment is deeply worried about a disaffected generation that has grown up during a decade long economic crisis, they are taking the film very seriously. But with its broad, brutal comedy, the comparison that springs to mind is A Clockwork Orange, equally seen as a portent of doom at the time but looking more like pantomime now. Battle Royale isn't fascinating because of what it might be saying, but because it takes its intriguingly extreme set up and makes a fast, weird and very funny film out of it.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Masanobu Ando, Taro Yamamoto, Aki Maeda, Chiaki Kuriyama, Kou Shibasaki, Takeshi Kitano, Tatsuya Fujiwara
  • Director: Kinji Fukasaku
  • Screen Writer: Koshun Takami, Kenta Fukasaku
  • Producer: Akio Kamatani, Masao Sato, Tetsu Kayama, Masumi Okada
  • Photographer: Katsumi Yanagishima
  • Composer: Masamichi Amano

In a nutshell

A wonderfully exciting, incredibly idiosyncratic actioner.

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4

    Thunder Island

    Thriller. A hit man (Gene Nelson) is hired to kill a former Caribbean dictator. He abducts a couple and their boat to reach the despot's island, but then his plans go badly wrong.

  • Film4

    The Enchanted Forest

    An old man raises a young boy who became lost in the woods, teaching him about life and nature

  • Channel 4 Blog

    TIFF: five favourites

    Elena Lazic reports from the Toronto International Film festival on her five favourites of the fest. The Lobster Yorgos Lanthimos' success in realising the usually disastrous combination of farci

  • Channel 4 Blog

    TIFF: five favourites

    Manuela Lazic reports from the Toronto International Film Festival on five favourites from the fest. The Witch What if the sorceresses and deadly spells in which people believed so fervently in th

Register with

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register