Before Hunger Games, there was Battle Royale. Not your typical teenage high school drama, Battle Royale sees a class of 9th grade students pitted against one another in a battle to the death. Ultra gory moments are packed in to this film that serves a cynical look at Japanese society and expectations.
For most of the part, this is the most intense the movie can get. Total number of protagonists - that exceeds over 40 in a two hour movie - is handled in a way that every character has some kind of a backstory. So, none of them feels like a statistic as they are being broadcasted after each murder count. And because of that, the ending fails to reach the same profoundness since it's too busy trying to be meaningful.
For all you scholars researching the roots of Japan's slow-motion demographic disaster, urtext alert: this one's for you--feast your eyes. Also cover them; things are going to get gross fast. Just how riveting, winningly goofy, dreamily thoughtful and unexpectedly moving could this post-Lord of the Flies, pre-Hunger Games satire of the vagaries of humanity in extremis possibly be, you may ask? Roughly, lots.
Based on a novel and manga which were themselves based on 'Lord of the Flies', it is merciless, cruel, never self indulgent, with a good dose of dark humour. The young actors are all rising up to Takeshi Kitano, who adds a level of demented madness to his character. BR inspired the 'Hunger Game' book and the film franchise that followed... (no comment)
A allegory on youth, generational resentment, disillusionment from society/peers & of regret in ones life. It's also satirical and a dark comedy, a hilarious one at that. Can't get over the transfer student runnin' around with the Uzi like he's in a John Woo movie. Where it surprisingly excels aside from it's absurdity, is the fleeting moments it distance itself from the slaughter for one of reflection & melancholy.
3-4. What emerges really clearly is that these kids could have lived if they stuck together, but that conforming to the system won't necessarily save you. Japanese in spirit, but doesn't really emphasize rebuilding the system, even though it values the right aspect of human social bonding. So it's a bit novel in that respect. It also deftly defies convention in small ways here and there. I really liked it, overall.