Saturday, March 5, 2011

Battle Royale

Quentin Tarantino has said that Battle Royale is his favorite film made since he started directing and it is easy to see why. It’s a brilliantly layered work, combining social commentary, the adolescent struggles of high school, and the connection between sexuality and violence all in a movie that is chock-full of gloriously portrayed violence. It’s about a high school class which is randomly chosen to participate in Battle Royale, a contest on an isolated island where they are all given different weapons and only the last one left standing is allowed to live. Once I got past the slightly odd Japanese cultural quirks, the over-the-top melodramatic touches, and suspended my disbelief for a bit for the obvious absurdity of the plot, I was swept away by the movie and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the Kill Bill movies (you can watch the entire movie Battle Royale here And now after re-watching Kill Bill Vol. 1 for this class, I immediately recalled this scene with Chiaki Kuriyama ruthlessly killing another classmate.

The scene is very similar to the one we saw with the same actress Chiaki Kuriyama(that time playing GoGo)in class. In both this scene and the scene we saw in Kill Bill, she is obviously annoyed by the sexual advances of an unattractive male and lashes out violently. It’s interesting (and of course very disturbing) that the first substantial stab she makes at him at 3:14 is at his genitals which is obviously a direct response to his implied threat to rape her after he took out his crossbow. However, it’s amusing that this male classmate’s bravado and threat are both just empty gestures, since he obviously is quite surprised and apologetic after he accidently shoots her and cuts her cheek at 2:15. Like her scene in Kill Bill, Chiaki Kuriyama is obviously the dominant one of the two, being a ruthless killer compared to the meek males of both scenes. Both movies turn gender roles upside down and allow females to be just as violent and in most scenes even more violent than men.


  1. Battle Royale is excellent I think that is because the premise of it is so ridiculously disturbing. The idea of a deserted island populated by schoolkids who are forced to kill one another is morbidly fascinating.

    The sequel has a different premise, and falls short of the greatness of its predecessor - The winners from the previous Battle Royale have become terrorists against the Japanese government, and a new class of students is forced to fight against them. Gone are the friendships and rivalries, that developed between the students as classmates, which influenced the student's willingness to participate in the violence. The sequel simply could not match the original in dramatic power and was reduced to a disorganized gore fest.

  2. I think Chiaki Kuriyama's characters in both movies presents an interesting take on the Japanese School-Girl archetype. Instead of the stereotypical innocent "cute" ideal, that is treasured, there is an ironic twist where the agent of innocence and purity becomes the harbinger of death.

  3. I agree that the whole school girl "cuteness" thing is being turned upside down in both kill bill and this scene. I think Quentin enjoys giving a different take on norms and beliefs that pervade our society, especially ones about women. I feel like it is possible that Quentin is just ruining this school girl archetype for everyone since now we will never know if some cute little girl is gonna stab me in really sensitive areas.


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