Battle Royale: Collector's Edition (2000)

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Released 9-Feb-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Making Of-The Making of Battle Royale
Interviews-Cast & Crew-Battle Royale Press Conference
Featurette-Instructional Video: Birthday Version
Theatrical Trailer-Original Theatrical Trailer
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Audition and Rehearsal footage
Featurette-Special Effects Comparison
Featurette-Tokyo International Film Festival 2000
Featurette-Battle Royale Documentary
Additional Footage-Basketball Scene Rehearsals
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Behind-the-scenes featurette
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Filming ON-set
TV Spots-Special Edition TV Spot
TV Spots-Special Edition TV Spot: Tarantino Version
Production Notes-Director's Statement
Filmographies-Crew-director Kinji Fukasaku
Filmographies-Cast-actor Beat Takeshi
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2000
Running Time 108:30 (Case: 110)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Kinji Fukasaku
Studio
Distributor

Shock Entertainment
Starring Tatsuya Fujiwara
Aki Maeda
Taro Yamamoto
Masanobu Ando
Kou Shibasaki
Chiaki Kuriyama
Beat Takeshi
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Masamichi Amano


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Forty-two junior high school students are on an excursion on a bus. Gassed into unconsciousness, they awake in a strange location where they are told by their former school teacher (and some soldiers) that they have been selected for Battle Royale.

    Sometime in the near future, the Japanese government, fed up with the unruly and disobedient student population, passes the BR Act. Each year, a school class is selected at random for the Battle Royale. The students are kidnapped to a deserted island, given provisions and a weapon each, and are given three days to fight to the death. There can only be one winner - whoever is left alive at the end of the three days. They are fitted with explosive necklaces, and if there is more than one student alive at the end of the three days all bracelets explode and no-one survives.

    This film tells the story of the 42 students and their fight to the death. Based on a popular novel by Koushun Takami, the screenplay by Kenta Fukasaku (the son of the director) drops most of the social commentary about modern Japan and instead concentrates on the relationships between the students, and a lot of high-level violence and mayhem. And some dark humour. Even without the added dimensions included in the original novel, this is immensely entertaining, though repeated viewings may highlight the lack of any great depth. The leads are likeable, the violence cartoonish rather than confronting and gory, the direction is spot on and there are no dull patches.

    While the cast is entirely Japanese, there are a couple of familiar faces. The schoolteacher is played by Beat Takeshi, the deadpan and disfigured star of several Japanese action films as well as western films such as Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence and Brother. He is also an accomplished director under his real name Takeshi Kitano, and his character in this film is named Kitano, adding an ironic touch. Also familiar will be Chiaki Kuriyama, from her appearance as the ball-on-a-chain-wielding assassin in Kill Bill Vol. 1. Incidentally, the case has a sticker that describes this film as the inspiration for Kill Bill. Apart from the participation of Kuriyama and the high body count, I do not see the connection.

    The director Kinji Fukasaku made his reputation with a string of yakuza films in the 1960s and 1970s, some of which were just as violent as this one, if not more so. He is deftly able to weld intimate drama and action together without any feeling of contrivance. Despite the bizarre premise, the film creates its own consistent inner world and thus is believable. The pacing of the film could not be better, and the tone remains even throughout, a credit to a 70 year old director working on his 60th film. Fukasaku died in early 2003 shortly after completing a sequel, which hopefully will get a DVD release in Region 4 in the not-too-distant future.

    A lot more could be written about this film, and has been, but I recommend you just get out there and watch it.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The original aspect ratio was 1.85:1. The aspect ratio of this transfer is not mentioned on the case.

    The transfer is quite murky and not especially sharp. The level of detail available is less than would be ideal, and shadow detail is not very good either.

    Brightness and contrast seem to have been boosted so that while the colours seem bright, they are not completely realistic. Flesh tones in particular look inaccurate.

    The film itself has been squeezed onto a single layer, so the transfer is at a fairly low bitrate. While this does not result in any obvious artefacts, there is some macro blocking during the occasional fast pans, especially in the forest. Film artefacts are limited to occasional white spots, but these are so infrequent as to be of no consequence.

    English subtitles are burned into the print. For the most part these are easy to read, being a bright white and quite large, but there are a couple of instances early in the film where they appear against a bright background and are difficult to read.

    The disc is a dual-layered one, but the feature is contained wholly on one layer, so there is no layer change.

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

Audio

    The sole audio track is Japanese Dolby Digital 2.0 and is stereo. There is no surround encoding, so even in Pro Logic mode the rears and subwoofer are quiet.

    There is nothing wrong with the audio transfer, apart from not being in surround. Dialogue is clear and the audio is clean and detailed, much like many a stereo transfer I have heard. Audio sync seems to be good.

    Original music is provided by Masamichi Amano, but the most striking music is excerpts from classical works, including Verdi's Requiem, the Blue Danube by Johann Strauss the younger and the Radetzky March by Johann Strauss the elder. The music not only sounds good but also adds an epic feel to the film.

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

Extras

    Accessing the extras may be slightly confusing. Selection of this option from the main menu takes you to another menu where you select English subtitles on or off. Select either option and the extras menu is displayed. There are a lot of extras on two pages.

    Unless otherwise stated, all extras have optional English subtitles and are in 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Most have some aliasing present.

Main Menu Animation and Audio

    The Main Menu has some minor animation, with the Requiem of Verdi for a musical underscore.

The Making of Battle Royale (50:24)

    This documentary shows a lot of behind the scenes footage, plus interviews with cast and crew members.

Battle Royale Press Conference (9:32)

    A press conference with the director and some of the actors where they make statements to the press about their thoughts about the film. Worthwhile watching for Takeshi's humorous short monologue at the end.

Instructional Video: Birthday Version (3:02)

    For Kinji Fukasaku's 70th birthday the crew made a send-up of the instructional video from the film. This also shows the on-set celebrations.

Original Theatrical Trailer (1:39)

    The trailer has burned-in subtitles, and watching this sets the optional subtitles to Off, so if you watch another of the extras you need to turn them on again. 1.78:1 and 16x9 enhanced.

Audition and Rehearsal footage (7:10)

    Raw footage from the auditions and rehearsals for the killing sequences.

Special Effects Comparison Featurette (4:15)

    This is one of the better extras. It shows several scenes from the film, mostly involving people being shot, then shows the original footage and the composites separately, so you can see how the final effects were built up. This has some of the film's music as background.

Tokyo International Film Festival 2000 (4:25)

    The director and cast appear on stage talking about the film at the Tokyo festival.

Battle Royale Documentary (12:08)

    Much like a shorter version of the main documentary, though with different footage, this looks like a featurette preview for TV or the cinema.

Basketball Scene Rehearsals (8:38)

    This is a rehearsal for the basketball scene that was included in the Special Edition of the film, but not in the version on this disc.

Behind-the-scenes featurette (10:07)

    Similar to the shorter documentary, with more behind the scenes footage.

Filming ON-set (11:00)

    More behind the scenes footage. There are no English subtitles.

Special Edition TV Spot (0:30)

    This is a TV trailer which is letterboxed, but I expect it was meant to be seen letterboxed on TV as the end is full screen.

Special Edition TV Spot: Tarantino Version (0:31)

    Not directed by Tarantino, just a Japanese commercial with a few snippets of Tarantino praising the film thrown in.

Director's Statement

    Three text pages by the director stating why he made violent films.

Filmography: director Kinji Fukasaku

Filmography: actor Beat Takeshi

    Detailed filmographies of the director and star.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

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

    All three versions of this film are available on DVD outside Australia, though there does not appear to be any US Region 1 release at the moment. Only the original international version and the Special Edition are available with English subtitles.

Original version

    A UK Region 0 edition from Tartan has much the same transfer as the Region 4 judging by the reviews, but has far fewer extras. The subtitles are burned in.

    A second release from Tartan, also Region 0, has Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and the same extras as the first release, but is NTSC format and has an improved transfer. It has removable English subtitles.

    A Hong Kong Region 3 edition has DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, but has almost no extras and is not 16x9 enhanced. Apparently the subtitles have spelling and grammar errors.

Special Edition

    A Korean Region 0 release from Starmax features the film in 1.78:1 and has DTS 5.1 audio. It has different extras from the Region 4 on a second disc, but the extras disc has no English subtitles. The subtitles on the feature are apparently difficult to read.

    A Korean Region 3 release from Cream is basically the same as the Starmax, but the extras have English subtitles, and the subtitles are easier to read than the Starmax.

    Tartan have released two versions of the Special Edition, each of which have the same extras as the Region 4 but on a second disc. The first version has Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and comes in a metal tin. The second version also has DTS 5.1 but no metal tin. Both have removable English subtitles.

    Just to complicate matters:

    In terms of the Special Edition cut of the film, the second Tartan release with DTS sound looks the best bet.

    In terms of the original international version of the film, the second Tartan release has better sound, and judging by screencaps I have seen a better transfer than the Region 4, but it is NTSC and has little in the way of extras. This is one case where if you want quality video and sound and a range of extras, you will need to buy more than one set.

    There is also a Region 4 rental release, which I have not seen. Reports on this release are unclear, in that it may be a 1.33:1 pan-and-scan transfer or simply not 16x9 enhanced.

Summary

    A very good film presented on an overfilled DVD - this should really have been on two discs. Still, it is worth a look if you are interested in what all the fuss is about.

    The video quality is not the best.

    The audio quality is satisfactory.

    The extras package is pretty good.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Monday, May 31, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V596 for surround channels; Yamaha AX-590 as power amp for mains
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Richter Harlequin; Rear: Pioneer S-R9; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Image comparison and more info on Director's Cut - REPLY POSTED
Kill Bill Connection -
R1 release - Steven Cameron (read my bio)
Director's Statement -