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Overall Rating

Awesome: 20%
Worth A Look50%
Average: 6.67%
Pretty Bad: 10%
Total Crap: 13.33%

2 reviews, 18 user ratings

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Battle Royale 2
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by Brian McKay

"I may be a Gaijin with a 100 word Japanese vocabulary - but I liked it"
4 stars

Having been a pretty big fan of the first BATTLE ROYALE film (which has yet to see the light of day in the West on any legitimate DVD format), there was no way in hell I was going to pass up the chance to see BR2 while in Tokyo during the month of it's premiere. Did I like it? Yes. Was the story any good? Hmm, talk to me after I've seen the subtitled version (or learned more Japanese).

This review may be a bit of a rocky road, as it's the first time I've reviewed a film without understanding over 98 percent of the dialogue (and considering how limited my Japanese is, saying that I fully understood the other two percent is probably generous). Thankfully, the language of exploding neck collars, arterial spray, tracer rounds, and flying body parts is pretty universal.

The sequel to the wildly popular (in Japan, at least) and highly controversial (in Japan and everywhere else) BATTLE ROYALE is pretty much more of the same with a few new twists. Although many nuances of the plot and characters were totally lost on me, the main thrust of the story is easy enough to follow.

Having survived the previous BATTLE ROYALE bloodbath, our heroes from the last film, Nanahara (Tatsuya Fujiwara) and Noriko (Aki Maeda) are now the head of a terrorist group called the "Wild Seven" (a play on "Mild Seven", a popular brand of cigarettes in Japan). The Wild Seven has detonated a series of Tokyo skyscrapers, in a chilling opening scene reminiscent of both 9-11 and the finale of FIGHT CLUB (my apologies if you are one of the three people on the planet who hasn't seen that movie yet). The act of terrorism is apparently a protest against the corrupt Japanese government, the Battle Royale program, and the meddling of what is presumably America (referred to only as "ano Kuni" or "that country") in the Middle East.

The Wild Seven are holed up on an island full of derelict buildings (much like in the first film) with a stockpile of weapons and high tech electronics. Rather than just bomb the bejesus out of them or send the army first, the powers that be decide to send the latest batch of BR candidates in against them. So, another class of innocent high schoolers is dropped into a blood bath - only this time they're fighting a common enemy instead of each other. Among them, not coincidentally, is Shiori Kitano (Ai Maeda), the daughter of Kitano (Beat Takeshi), the previous director of the Battle Royale program who was killed by Nanahara and Noriko. Though her relationship with dad was strained at best, she's still out for a little payback. This time, it's personal!

Like in the previous film, the unwilling participants are given the exploding dog collars that will detonate if they disobey orders, step out of line, or refuse to fight. Only this time, the collar of each team member is linked to another team member. If one dies, the other's collar counts down to detonation - apparently as incentive for the team members to watch each other's backs. They are given matching assault rifles and body armor, piled into zodiacs, and sent to the slaughter.

Also like the last film, the body count is atrocious. The group of forty something teenagers is whittled down to just under twenty in a matter of minutes, in one of the most grueling combat sequences in recent memory. The pacing and visual style is obviously copied from Blackhawk Down, which was in turn copied from Saving Private Ryan. However, it's gruesomely entertaining stuff. Most of the battle sequences, while a tad unrealistic, are certainly exciting, although unlike in the first film, it seems doubtful that the violence here was used as a protest against violence in general. The refrencing of American films, including a scene toward the end which is lifted from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, is unmistakable. For a film that bears what many have percieved as a decidedly anti-American slant, it certainly copies our films enough. But at least it copies the cool parts, and does it fairly well.

After a treacherous uphill battle to breach the Wild Seven's compound, the few surviving members are captured, only to be swayed to the side of the Wild Seven. This results in the two groups uniting to defend the island from a hellacious onslaught that includes air strikes and hundreds of Japanese troops.

Since I understood practically none of the dialouge, I am in no position to judge the film on merits of plot or script. However, I can say that the performances all seemed pretty solid, with the exception of the kid playing the lead, who sneers and postures angrily in nearly every scene, and Riki Takeuchi, who chews scenery as the pill-popping and maniacal new director of the BR program.

I can only judge BATTLE ROYALE 2 purely on the basis of an action movie - and as far as the action goes, it does not disappoint. And while I certainly would have gotten much more out of a subtitled version, the BR2 experience was worth both my precious vacation time in Tokyo, and my 1800 Yen.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 08/04/03 16:02:04
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User Comments

7/04/12 XxXEmoTacoXxX i do have to say this movie was dissapointment and was a lot worst then the 1st 3 stars
3/14/12 porfle Maudlin. Disappointing. Embarrassing. 2 stars
4/06/09 Deneb Trash! Compared to the frst, this is more confusing, coming with bad acting and shallow plo 1 stars
10/17/08 Cloud.Scream Has more narrative quality than the first. The film's message is RIGHT ON THE SPOT! 4 stars
12/04/07 Prodigs Watch the first half of the movie, it's classic. Then when it gets half way go elsewhere. 4 stars
5/09/07 Nic Brilliant the first was outstandingly amazing this one is wickdly cool 5 stars
2/16/07 Abs It's only worth watching once unlike the first one 3 stars
11/17/06 mr plow stupid and boring. 2 stars
4/22/06 Daveman Dull follow-up to an entertaining piece of trash. 2 stars
8/10/04 kyotomatt This one hurt. HBS reviewers need to get correct. WAKE UP PEOPLE! 1 stars
7/07/04 dead next door crap 1 stars
5/18/04 taintedlunch I can't believe people liked this. Overblown in every conceivable way. Garbage 1 stars
2/07/04 Joe Blow Ballsy 5 stars
1/07/04 Lord Azazel It´s one of the best films I´ve ever seen, BR 1 was better but number one is always so. 5 stars
1/03/04 Mark Great movie that even with its plot holes didn't deserve all the bad reviews in My opinion. 4 stars
10/31/03 Michael Park Wow... I loved this film... I dont know if its as good as the original but the acting. WOW 5 stars
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  05-Jul-2003 (R)



Directed by
  Kenta Fukasaku
  Kinji Fukasaku

Written by
  Kenta Fukasaku

  Tatsuya Fujiwara
  Aki Maeda
  Takeshi Kitano
  Ai Maeda
  Riki Takeuchi

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