Battle Royale: Director's Cut (Blu-ray) (2000)

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Released 12-Sep-2012

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-Battle Royale Documentary
Featurette-Instructional Video: Birthday Version
Featurette-Audition and Rehearsal Footage
Featurette-Special Effects Comparison
Featurette-Tokyo International Film Festival 2000
Featurette-Basketball Scene Rehearsals
Featurette-Behind The Scenes
Featurette-Filming on Set
TV Spots-Director's Edition x 2
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Eastern Eye Trailers x 4
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 122:09 (Case: 121)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Kinji Fukasaku
Studio
Distributor
Toei Company
Madman Entertainment
Starring Tatsuya Fujiwara
Aki Maeda
Taro Yamamoto
Masanobu Ando
Kou Shibasaki
Chiaki Kuriyama
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $34.95 Music Masamichi Amano


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese Dolby TrueHD 7.1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     In the near future Japanese society is in chaos. Unemployment is soaring, and the youth are out of control. The response from the government is to pass the BR Act; each year one grade 9 high school class is selected at random, transported to an abandoned island, provided with food, water and a weapon, fitted with tracking collars and instructed to kill each other until only one remains. They have three days; if after that time more than one student survives, all will be killed.

     With a class of 42 students on the island waiting to be killed, not all can be individualised. The film centres on the duo of Shuya (Tatsuya Fujiwara) and Noriko (Aki Maeda) as they try to avoid killing anyone and look for a way out. Others, such as Mitsuko (Kou Shibasaki) or the silent, psychotic Kiriyama (Nasanoku Ando) become cunning killers, but others like Shinji (Takashi Tsukamoto) show leadership and band together with others to fight back at those who control the game, while others simply want to hide away. Others to stand out are Kawada (Taro Yamamoto), who has a separate agenda, and the teacher Kitano (played by legend Beat Takeshi) whose character has more depth than it seems at first.

     Battle Royale, released in 2000, is a genuine cult classic, a surprisingly tender film of ideas as well as pulsating action. It was apparently director Kinji Fukasaku’s 60th film and he clearly knows a few things about making films. Despite its reputation in Japan and overseas, Battle Royale is by no means a video nasty or a splatter film; although there is plenty of blood (more so in this director’s cut) it is not excessive or particularly gory. Instead Battle Royale builds tension well with varied and interesting characters, excellent pacing and explosive action sequences.

     Based on the novel by Koshun Takami (both the book and the film caused concern in Japan), Battle Royale a decade after its release remains a powerful, emotional film. The tone of the film is helped by the excellent score by Masamichi Amano that was supported by selections from Bach, Verdi, Strauss (Snr. & Jnr.) and Schubert that provided depth and an epic feel to the soundtrack. Before I reviewed the DVD on this site I had not seen the film and thought it as a bit of a video nasty. I could not have been more wrong, and rewatching the film on Blu-ray only confirms its quality.

     The DVD of theatrical cut of Battle Royale was released in Australia by Shock and was reviewed on this site here. I reviewed the DVD of the director’s cut here. For a detailed outline of the differences between the two cuts follow the link here.

     This Blu-ray release is the longer director’s cut of the film. The Blu-ray has no extras, but is packaged by Madman with the DVD of the previously released director’s cut including all the extras.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Battle Royale – Director’s Cut is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in the MPEG-4 AVC code. The IMDb gives the original theatrical ratio as 1.85:1.

     I called the video on the DVD functional. The Blu-ray is a clear improvement. It is still not a completely crisp and sharp print, but sharpness and fine detail has improved. Colours also have better depth and appear brighter but still natural, skin tones are good. Blacks are solid, and shadow detail improved, allowing more to be seen in the night sequences. Other than some slight ghosting, I saw no artefacts, and the slight edge enhancement of the DVD was not evident.

     The English subtitles are in a white font and are easy to read. I did not notice any spelling or grammatical errors.

     While not one to show off your Blu-ray system, the video is an improvement over the DVD release.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is a choice between Japanese Dolby TrueHD 7.1 or English TrueHD 5.1. Both are new to the Blu-ray as the DVD included only a Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 audio that was not particularly vibrant. The audio is a major improvement over the DVD.

     The Japanese audio is much more aggressive than the DVD mix, but retains good balance and separation. Dialogue is clean and from the front centre. The surrounds provide a nice enveloping feel with the main beneficiary being the score, which is much more noticeable, although gunfire, explosions and rain also occur. There are some panning effects in the gunfights and the subwoofer added bass to the music and explosions.

     Lip synchronisation is fine.

     The original music by Masamichi Amano supported the film well, but it was the added selections from Bach, Verdi, Strauss (Snr. & Jnr.) and Schubert that provided depth and an epic feel to the soundtrack.

     The voice acting in the English dub is not particularly good from the portion I sampled. This mix also lacks the depth of the 7.1 but I guess is there for those who may be interested in the film but cannot read subtitles.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     There are no extras on the Blu-ray, except for two trailers, for Redline (1:55) and First Squad: Moment of Truth that play on start-up, but cannot be selected from the menu. This Blu-ray release from Madman, however, includes the previously released DVD which has all the extras that were on both the director’s cut and the theatrical release DVDs. Details of the extras can be found in my review of the director’s cut DVD here.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     Our Region B Blu-ray is the same as the Region A US release in its technical specifications, and indeed comes with the FBI piracy warning. Region A also has the Battle Royale complete collection, with the theatrical and director’s cuts, Battle Royale II: Requiem plus a DVD of all the extras. The UK has a Region Free release with the two versions of Battle Royale (but with Japanese DTS-HD MA 5.1 and DTS 2.0) plus a DVD of extras. Having both versions of Battle Royale would be interesting, but with extras the same I doubt if it is enough to go past the local release.

Summary

Battle Royale is a genuine cult classic. It is by no means a video nasty or a splatter film; although there is certainly plenty of blood and violence Battle Royale builds tension well with varied and interesting characters, excellent pacing and explosive action sequences.

     This Blu-ray release is the longer director’s cut of the film. The main difference from the DVD is the enhanced HD video and the greatly improved audio, with lossless a Japanese DolbyTrueHD 7.1 plus an English DolbyTrueHD 5.1 dub previously unavailable in our region. Personally, I think the improved video and audio mean that, for fans of the film, a repurchase is warranted.

     The Blu-ray has no extras, but is packaged by Madman with a DVD of the previously released director’s cut including all the extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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