Total Film - 02/01/2011 4 stars out of 5 -- "[A] manga-fied LORD OF THE FLIES with automatic weapons..."
In a future where society is on the verge of collapse, the government takes drastic action against the problem of rebellious teenagers in this violent sci-fi opus from Japan. In the year 2002, Japan's economy has taken a dramatic turn for the worse, and massive unemployment and inflation have thrown most adults into a state of chaos; the nation's youth culture responds with unprecedented violence, delinquency, and truancy. Desperate to restore order, the Japanese parliament responds by creating the Millennial Reform School Act, in which groups of junior high students are selected at random, sent to an isolated island, and forced to play a rigorous war game, in which all but one of their number are killed. Kitano (Beat Takeshi) is an embittered school instructor who guides the 44 students of the Zentsuji Middle School's Class B through the deadly game known as "Battle Royale," as they struggle to survive against the elements and each other. BATTLE ROYALE proved to be both successful and highly controversial in Japan, where it set box-office records and prompted political leaders to call for stricter controls on violence in Japanese entertainment; the film was initially rated R-15 (no one under 15 admitted), unusual for violent films in Japan, though director Kinji Fukasaku later prepared a re-edited version that earned a more lenient classification.