Movie Review by EDF
Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Ai Maeda, Shûgo Oshinari, Ayana Sakai
Directors: Kenta Fukasaka; Kinji Kukasaku
Few movies have come out of Japan that packed a punch like the one created by the original BATTLE ROYALE. With a government hell bent to beat down terrorists, they create anti-terror laws to put down potential troublemakers. They do this by kidnapping a classroom full of kids and send them off to a remote island. There they have forty-eight hours to be the last one standing by killing their fellow classmates. While at times violent, BATTLE ROYALE had tender moments between the characters that made you care about their situation. With the prospect of Kinji Fukasaku directing the sequel from a script by his son, an unexpected twist occurred when Kinji passed away not long after filming began. Would BATTLE ROYALE 2 be able to survive without its leader?
The answer is kind of. With his son Kenta now taking over the directing reins, BR2 starts off promising enough. Another class of potential no hopers are selected for the new version on BATTLE ROYALE. Their mission is to storm the island where adult hating rebel Shuya Nanahara (Tatsuya Fujiwara) is holed up in. This time round the kids are paired off with matching neck collars; if one should stray too far away from their partner or dies, their partner also dies.
So off they go, storming the island beach with an action sequence that is a copy of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN but as these are just kids, their panic and fear are real within this chaotic setting. Having a near permanent shaky cam for the action sequences can be nauseating and just shows off the inability of shooting battle scenes. Within a short space of time, less than half of the class have survived and have been captured by Shuya’s forces. Shuya asks the would be assassins to either kill him or help fight for his cause. Special Forces are sent in to finish the job but are defeated by the newly formed alliance. It is then that the film starts philosophising and looking for answers to what war is about. Up to this point the movie was plodding along quite nicely but now it comes to a grinding halt. When another country takes the initiative to attack the terrorist’s island, the local Prime Minister decides enough is enough and orders more of the same. Will the young terrorist escape?
Unlike the first movie where we got to know and care about the characters, we are not given enough time to like these characters as they quickly exit out of the movie without thought or care. The more philosophical scenes are just drawn out and are just not that well written. During the second half, the pace stops the flow a couple of times. This is due to a writer / director who should have edited his script down in the cutting room. The two-hour plus running time could have been shortened by at least 20 minutes, possibly making it a more balanced movie. This is an okay sequel that has been shadowed by a great original.