Battle Royale II - Requiem (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner03/11/2003

Twoout of Five stars
Running time: 133 mins

Disappointing follow-up to the original, darkly funny film ? this is slow, confused, boring and way too long, with only Riki Takeuchi and some blatant American-baiting to liven things up.

2001's Battle Royale was an original, darkly funny, ultra-violent film that worked brilliantly as both a satire on a society that worships reality television and a brutal swipe at high school hierarchies.

Given that the same director and co-writer are on board for the sequel then (at least, till Kenji Fukasaku died during filming), you could be forgiven for expecting something equally good. Unfortunately, however, the result is an unholy mess, lacking in the humour and the ideas that made the original so special - it received an extremely lukewarm round of applause at its late night LFF screening.

Former Winner Turns Terrorist

The most stunning moment in Battle Royale 2 occurs during the opening scene. We see an unnamed cityscape. Suddenly, there?s an explosion and the two tallest towers begin to collapse ? no prizes for guessing what the Fukasakus were intending here. Then the camera pulls back and we see all the other tall buildings undergoing a similar fate. A voiceover then informs us that the winner of Battle Royale, Namahama (Tatsuya Fujiwara) has declared war on all adults and formed a terrorist cell called Wild Seven; this is his work.

However, for some reason, he and his cohorts have decided to hole themselves up on ? yes! - the original Battle Royale island, which is where the plot kicks off.

The first part of the film is more or less exactly the same as in the first film, only with cult actor Rikki Takeuchi taking Takeshi Kitano?s role and hamming it up for all he?s worth. Another bus-load of ?loser? kids get drugged and sent to the Battle Royale island.

They?re equipped with the special Exploding Necklaces and told that they have to take out Namahama and his terrorist cell. There?s a catch, however ? each kid is paired off with someone and if one dies, both die?

Huge Disappointment

So far, so good. However, after a promising opening involving a Saving Private Ryan-style boat landing (in which 20 kids get offed straight away so it?s easier to tell who?s who), the film almost immediately runs out of steam when the kids confront Namahama in a concrete bunker?and sit around talking and reminiscing about Afghanistan (confused? You should be) for, literally, about an hour.

After that, the film has nothing to recommend it apart from a brief cameo in flashback by Kitano and the video screen appearance of Japan?s Prime Minister. The death scenes are all quite boring (Takeuchi even chastises them for their deaths not being ?individual? enough) and worsened by some obvious, intrusive CGI work.

The most remarkable thing about the entire film is the level of America-baiting that occurs: Takeuchi lists a long list of countries America has bombed and later on there?s an amusing extended speech about ?THAT country?. Still, given that Battle Royale itself has yet to be released in the States, it?s highly unlikely that the sequel will get a release there either.

In short, this is a huge disappointment, despite a promising premise and its highly provocative opening. About the only real fun to be had with the film is discussing how much better it could have been in the pub afterwards.

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Content updated: 21/08/2018 22:53

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