Have you seen the Japanese cult classic film Battle Royale? If you answered “No” to that question then do yourself a favor: open a new tab to your Netflix account right now and bump the movie to the top of your que.
For those of you who HAVE seen Battle Royale and truly appreciate it for the savage fun it is, we have good news for you: after nearly a decade the film may finally be released on American soil – and in 3D, no less.
In honor of its ten year anniversary, Battle Royale undergone a 3D conversion for a Japanese theatrical re-release. Nippon Cinema reports that Anchor Bay has snagged the rights to the film, the 3D version and the sequel film, Battle Royale 2, and could release them stateside at long last.
For those who don’t know, Battle Royale is based on the novel by Koushun Takami, about a future in which the Japanese government has collapsed and the youth have become disenfranchised and hostile. A disgruntled ex-teacher working for the government kidnaps a class of ninth graders and deposits them on an island to wage war against one another in a last-man-standing battle to the death. The students are fitted with explosive collars and, like any good video game, a variety of weapons (ranging from bats to guns) are distributed across the battlefield. If the students don’t kill each other off in the allotted time, the explosives in their collars will detonate, killing them all.
Battle Royale was a simple, savage, unapologetic premise that worked very effectively as a genre film – hence why the movie is now considered a cult-classic and has spawned any number of imitators (The Condemned, I’m looking at you!). However, Battle Royale was released in 2000 – just on the heels of Columbine murders – needless to say, a movie about school children killing each other was not something America was looking for at the time. There are several conspiracy theories about why the film has been kept out of U.S. theaters (was it the will of Japanese production house, Toei, or U.S. distributors?) but the bottom line is that only a small portion of American moviegoers are aware of the flick.
Hopefully Anchor Bay is planning to release the film in America sooner before later. The thought of seeing Battle Royale in an actual theater is very appealing – though I’m not 100% sold on the idea that a 3D release is necessary (though that’s the more likely scenario for a U.S. theatrical release).
If Battle Royale is released in American theaters, would you go see it? Do you think enough time has passed for a movie like this to be released in the U.S. without controversy? After all, if The Hungers Games can get the Hollywood movie treatment, why can’t this film?
Battle Royale 3D hits theaters in Japan on November 20th; a U.S. release is being planned for sometime in 2011.