Battle Royale review

The near future. Forty-two Japanese school kids are dumped on a remote island guarded by soldiers. Naturally bewildered, their teacher (Takeshi Kitano) explains that they're this year's victims of the Battle Royale Act, a bill designed to halt violence in schools. The up-shot being that they're each given a weapon and three days to kill their classmates...

Needless to say, Kinji Fukasaku's violent, delirious picture has caused a seismic shudder, its juxtaposition of gushing claret and 15-year-old players proving too much for American distributors in a post-Columbine world. But taken as a brave, unflinching satire - of both reality TV and Japanese society - it's an incredible concept, a film that'll nail-gun you to your seat gasping in shock.

In execution (ho-ho), however, it's a different matter, an excess of characters and plot holes causing this loaded weapon of a movie to occasionally jam. But then who's going to worry about fodder extras when you've got teenagers going head-to-head with stun-guns and axes?

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