10 Things You Didn't Know About... Battle Royale
Over the next few weeks we'll have a range of films on offer from the folks at Arrow Video, with a range of cult classics on offer in stores and online, both on Blu-ray and DVD. You can find the full range of films here in our online store and we'll be revisiting some of the best titles, continuing this week with Kinji Fukasaku's controversial Japanese horror film Battle Royale. Here are 10 things you may not know about the film...
It's still banned in South Korea
Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the amount of gory detail in both the film and the novel it was based on, both the film and the book were the subject of attempted bans by the Japanese government. Author Koushun Takami eventually won the right to publish his novel after a three-year legal battle, but the film suffered similar scrutiny and while it was one of the top 10 grossing films in Japan on its release, it didn't fare so well in other countries and remains banned from being broadcast in South Korea due to the film's graphic violence.
It took 11 years to be released in the United States
Although Battle Royale did make a number of appearances at films festivals across North America during the 2000s, it was more than a decade before the film went on general release in the U.S. Part of the initial delay was down to the Columbine massacre, which was still very recent when the film was first due to be exported. Sadly this proved to be one of string of similar incidents in the country and Battle Royale was held back from release on several occasions due to the film's subject matter.
It's one of Quentin Tarantino's favourite films
Not only did Tarantino once name Battle Royale in his top 20 films of all time, he liked it so much that he cast one of its lead actresses, Chiaki Kuriyama, in one of his own films – she appears as mace-swinging assassin Gogo Yubari in Kill Bill Volume 1.
Director Kinji Fukasaku was 70 years old when he made the film...
Battle Royale might not be your first choice if you were to sit down and watch a film with your granddad, but the gore and violence didn't put off director Kinji Fukasaku, who was already at the ripe old age of 70 when the cameras started rolling.
...and it turned out to be his last
Unfortunately, although Fukasaku did live to see the film released and even begun work on its sequel, Battle Royale II: Requiem, the director was suffering from prostate cancer and sadly died before the sequel was complete. Although he did survive to direct one scene, his son Kenta Fukasaku took over the reins after his father's death and completed the film on his behalf, dedicating the movie to his memory.
It has a body count of 48
Yes, there are a lot of deaths in Battle Royale, but if you've ever wondered how many people actually die during the film, here's your answer: 48 (including 15 who are killed during flashback scenes).
The audition process was brutal
As many as 6,000 budding actors applied to be part of the film, a number which was eventually whittled down to 800 people who actually auditioned. These 800 were subjected to 6 months of military-style physical fitness training under the supervision of director Fukasaku, after which only 42 made the cut.
There were no stunt doubles
Not even for the leading man Tatsuya Fujiwara, who plays Shuya Nanahara in the film. Like everyone else in the cast, Fujiwara has to do all of his own stunts.
The magazine that contains bomb-making instructions actually exists
The magazine Hara Hara Tokei (“The Ticking Clock”) which features in the film is a real thing – a sort of Japanese equivalent to The Jolly Roger Cookbook that was published in 1974 by a terrorist group known as the East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front who were responsible for a series of bombings in the 1970s in Japan, including the 1974 bombing at the offices of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
The long talked about Hollywood remake is probably never going to happen
For several years Roy Lee, the producer behind the American version of The Ring, was interested in doing the same for Battle Royale. Unfortunately, the film was rapped in development hell for a number of years, during which time The Hunger Games became a global phenomenon. Some have accused the latter of copying Battle Royale's central premise (although in fairness there are a number of key differences), but once the films had become a success Lee found that studios began to get cold feet on an American remake, ironically because they feared that audiences would assume it was copying The Hunger Games.