Battle Royale

Battle Royale

DVD Rating: ***1/2

Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

Read Angus Wolfe Murray's film review of Battle Royale

Tartan's Battle Royale Special Edition DVD is released Region free as a two disc collectors set, the film on the first disc and the extras - all 16 of them - on the second.

The film is presented in its OAR with a choice of 5.1 and DTS audio tracks, the latter a new addition for this release.

Copy picture

The extras comprise:

1) A 50 minute "the making of Battle Royale TV piece" that combines behind the scenes footage with cast and director interviews. Two things really come across here: Fukasaku's amazing energy and the extent to which the piece really captures the uncertainties of its 15-year-old protagonists, the director here tapping into his own experiences as a high school student in the final years of WWII.

2) A 10 minute Battle Royale Press Conference, with Fukasaku and his main stars - wearing their BR costumes - giving statements to the Japanese media in a carefully stage managed way that means you have to read between the lines.

3) A short Instructional video: Birthday version, prepared by the cast and for Fukasaku's 70th birthday, in which the irrepressibly cheerful TV presenter tells the director what he needs to shoot the film - the script, a loudhailer ("this one is super lucky") etc - and a warning that if he is still doing reshoots come the autumn his necklace will surely explode. Charming and amusing.

4) Seven minutes of audition and rehearsal footage.

5) A four minute Special Effects Comparison Featurette illustrating some of the composite effects used for the exploding necklaces and gunfire.

6) A record of the introduction given to the film for its premiere at the 2000 Tokyo International Film Festival, with Fukasaku wearing a suit instead of the scruffy, but practical, sportswear seen elsewhere and leading his cast and the audience in an impromptu song.

7) A 12 minute promo piece misleadingly titled as a "Battle Royale Documentary" that repeats a few facts from the Making Of but otherwise buries everything in a triumph of style over substance.

8) Rehearsals and outtakes from the basketball scene, a flashback in the film but shot six months after the main location work, once more highlighting Fukasaku's energy and way of working with his actors.

9) Another behind the scenes featurette - or another 10 minutes of Fukasaku doing his by now familiar thing.

10) "Filming on set", another 11 minutes of the same with an ever so slightly different - studio rather than location - emphasis.

11 through 13) The original theatrical trailer and two TV spots for the special edition, the latter with Quentin Tarantino enthusing about the film, and all emphasising the controversy aspect.

14) A director's statement from Fukasaku, re-iterating the way in which he connected to the characters and situation within the film through his own experiences during the war.

15 and 16) Filmographies for Fukasaku and Kitano.

The impression, then, is of a decent presentation of the film combined with quantity over quality extras, with too many segments that repeat the same material and which only the most die-hard Battle Royale fan will ever watch more than once. "A" for effort, though.

Reviewed on: 11 Apr 2004
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Futuristic Japanese survival gameshow where school children fight for their lives.
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Product Code: TVD 3457

Region: 0

Ratio: 1.85 widescreen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS surround

Extras: Documentaries and featurettes, rehearsal scenes, promo spots, filmographies, director's statement

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