It was around 2002 during an anime convention when I stumbled into the room dedicated to showing Asian films. The movie was “Battle Royale” and it was a heck of a trip. Based on a controversial book of the same title by Kenta Fukasaku and pretty much an extreme version of “Survivor” mixed with “90210,” the film depicted a Japanese high school class cast away on a deserted island where all the bad blood between the students literally spills out when they are forced to kill each other until only one remains. The film managed to strike a nerve about the rising unemployment, the rebellious youth, the pressures of high school, and some black comedy for fun. Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino snagged actress Chiaki Kuriyama, one of the high school girls of “Battle Royale,” to play Gogo Yubari in his blockbuster “Kill Bill vol. 1.” The success of the first film paved the way for a sequel aptly titled “Battle Royale II: Requiem” was a violent social commentary against knee jerk American politics against terrorism that did not do so well.
Nevertheless, the two films inspired a lot of “Battle Royale” cosplay at anime conventions for a few years but never an American release. Rumors that the film’s material of high school students killing each other with guns and other instruments struck too close of a nerve to the Columbine shootings and other school shootings sounded believable. Additionally, negotiations with Toei were rumored to be too stubborn on either side to reach an agreement. There were even talks of making a Hollywood adaptation of “Battle Royale” complete with awful casting.
But now Anchor Bay seems to have picked up the rights to the “Battle Royale” franchise. This includes the “Battle Royale” 3D re-release scheduled for November 20th in Japan. The 3D gimmick is not exactly I really care for, but the fact Anchor Bay is actually able to bring the film to US soil legitimately is quite a feat. Then again, with parental groups more focused on violent video games corrupting the youth, violent films like “Battle Royale” seem less of a threat these days.
When the film does hit American screens and/or shelves, it should at least get rid of the need for a Hollywood remake. And the surge of “Battle Royale” cosplay at anime conventions may just return and I can get mine out of the closet again.