Battle Royale

OMG! Have you got your ticket for The Hunger Games? Are you just dying to see it? Did you read the books? Didn't you just love the books? Teenagers fighting to the death—what a novel concept, right? Well, now is a good time to trot out the 2000 Battle Royale, directed by the veteran director Kinji Fukasaku, who's kind of like the Sam Peckinpah of Japan. Only here we have ninth graders, not cowboys, battling to the death on a remote island—yes, something like Lord of the Flies. The film's nutty premise has these sweet-faced, uniformed schoolkids try to slay one another until only one winner remains. But unlike Hunger Games (or Rollerball or Gladiator, for that matter), entertainment isn't the point to this carnage-ridden spectacular. There are no cameras to relay the allegiances, betrayals, and gore to a viewing audience. Instead, the blood sport is meant as a cautionary, punitive example against disobedient youngsters. On hand as a gruff teacher is Takeshi Kitano, who jeers, "So today's lesson is—you kill each other off!" Even if it lacks a coherent ending, the black comedic Battle brilliantly escalates the hair-trigger volatility of adolescent emotions. (Because Columbine was so fresh, the movie never had a U.S. release.) (NR) BRIAN MILLER

Fri., April 20, 9:30 p.m.; Sat., April 21, 9:30 p.m.; Thu., April 26, 8 p.m., 2012

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