BATTLE ROYALE LIMITED EDITION UHD BOXSET REVIEW

So lets get straight to the point here. Firstly,

We were not given discs 3,4 and 5, so I will not be reviewing theses. This means that discs 1 and 2 will be the main focus. Secondly (and more importantly) You, the spender of money and collector of stuff will ask, ‘why the hell again am I having to upgrade my copy of _____________’ (Insert film title here.) Good question. I asked it on hearing that Arrow were again releasing this 2000 masterpiece and its weaker, father son directed sequel from 2003. It is a seminal film, with multiple versions and stories that float around it to explore in extra details. But again the question comes back to us. Why am I spending another 60 quid for a boxset that will replace a defunct set, we were told was the ultimate?

On reviewing the contents, I was pleasantly surprised. We get included the original films directors cut (my preferred), The sequels extended version called REVENGE. There is also a host of newly produced features from Jasper Sharp, which also peaked my interest. So you know the synopsis. The distant future. An alternate dystopian vision. Lawlessness has destroyed society and children now run amok. So as a quick fix it, a system called BATTLE ROYALE is enacted. 42 junior high school students are selected to take part in an annual tournament. This put simply, sends them to a remote island, they are each given individual weapons and ordered to go out and kill one another until one is left to take the crown of champion. Now why not just run away or join up and fight back? Well three things stop that. One, the army is on the island. Two, every player is fitted with an explosive collar around their neck and worse of all, three, they have a three-day time limit, so kill or be killed. If this is not bad enough,  overseeing the carnage is a brutal teacher and fan of sadism (‘Beat’ Takeshi Kitano). If they dont kill each other, he might just deal with them himself.

DISC 1 and 2

The 4K is hit and miss. It hits on any of the non video and non director cut introduced footage. The video is flat, washed out and drained of colour. Thats video suckers, get over it. The director stuff is just haphazardly done. This means that the original is far more worth spending time with. Gloriously rich and a lot better than its previous versions, simply because it does not lose depth in the visual field when projected.

EXTRAS

The best? Number 1?  The work of veteran director Kinji Fukasaku is given life in the commentary from Tom Mes and Jasper Sharp. They are both knowledgeable, involving and extract slices of detail, missed in many other works. They also both pay homage to how much this film, gave Japanese new cinema, to the western audience (though comparing it to RASHOMON is a bit heavy.)

Number 2? The Correct Way to Make ‘Battle Royale’: Birthday Version. Its old but it is so much fun. Number 3? Coming of Age: Battle Royale at 20. This focuses as much on the classic cult shocker  source work, yes it was adapted from the controversial novel by Koushun Takami. Both do not pull punches and this is wonderfully explored. Well a littlish. Number 4? Adding another one to the list because I like it, well it is Kenta Fukasaku on Battle Royale. Kenta took over from his father on the second film and details a lot of the first in this interview. Worth a glance at the very least.

 

4K ULTRA HD LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS

  • Brand new 4K restoration of the Original Theatrical Version and Special Edition Director’s Cut of Battle Royale from the original camera negative by Arrow Films, approved by Kenta Fukasaku
  • 4K (2160p) UHD Blu-ray presentation of both versions of Battle Royale in Dolby Vision (HDR10 compatible)
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of the Battle Royale II: Requiem theatrical cut and the Battle Royale II: Revenge extended cut
  • Original 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and 2.0 stereo audio
  • Optional English subtitles
  • Original soundtrack CD for Battle Royale [Limited Edition Exclusive]
  • Kinji Fukasaku: Man of Rage, an exclusive 120-page monograph on the director by Japanese cinema expert Tom Mes [Limited Edition Exclusive]
  • Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new essays by Matt Alt and Anne Billson and archival articles
  • Exclusive Battle Royale collectors’ Trump Card set [Limited Edition Exclusive]
  • Reversible poster with new artwork [Limited Edition Exclusive]

DISC ONE – BATTLE ROYALE: ORIGINAL THEATRICAL VERSION (4K UHD BLU-RAY)

  • Brand new audio commentary by critics Tom Mes and Jasper Sharp
  • Coming of Age: Battle Royale at 20, an exclusive new 42-minute documentary about the legacy of Battle Royale
  • Bloody Education: Kenta Fukasaku on Battle Royale, a brand new exclusive interview with the film’s producer and screenwriter
  • The Making of Battle Royale: The Experience of 42 High School Students, documentary featuring footage from the shooting of the film and cast and crew discussions
  • The Slaughter of 42 High School Students, a look behind the scenes of the shoot
  • Behind the scenes footage with comments from the cast and crew
  • Filming on Set, a look at the shooting of key scenes from the film
  • Conducting Battle Royale with the Warsaw National Philharmonic, archive footage of Masamichi Amano conducting the soundtrack rehearsal

DISC TWO – BATTLE ROYALE: SPECIAL EDITION DIRECTOR’S CUT (4K UHD BLU-RAY)

  • Shooting the Special Edition, on-location featurette with footage of the cast and crew reuniting for the shoot of the Special Edition
  • Royale Rehearsals, featurette on Kinji Fukasaku directing the film’s young cast
  • Masamichi Amano Conducts Battle Royale, archive featurette
  • Takeshi Kitano Interview, filmed on location with the Japanese star
  • The Correct Way to Fight in Battle Royale, instructional video explaining the rules of the game
  • The Correct Way to Make ‘Battle Royale’: Birthday Version, a new version of the original instructional video made to celebrate Kinji Fukasaku’s birthday
  • Premiere Press Conference, preceding the film’s first public screening
  • Tokyo International Film Festival Presentation, with footage from the gala screening at the Tokyo International Film Festival
  • Opening Day at the Marunouchi Toei Movie Theatre, archive footage of the Japanese opening
  • Special Effects Comparison showing how the film’s violent killings were created
  • Original Trailers and TV spots
  • Kinji Fukasaku trailer reel, a collection of original trailers for Fukasaku’s classic yakuza films from the 70s
  • Image Gallery

DISC THREE – BATTLE ROYALE II: REQUIEM (REGION B BLU-RAY)

  • Bloody Graduation: Kenta Fukasaku on Battle Royale II, an exclusive brand new interview with the director and screenwriter of Battle Royale II
  • Behind the Scenes of Battle Royale II, on-location featurette during the film’s shoot
  • Rehearsals footage of the auditions and pre-production rehearsals
  • War and Struggle, featurette of the cast discussing their thoughts on war
  • Alternate Piano Scene
  • The Recording of the Music Score, archive footage of Masamichi Amano and the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra
  • Opening Gala with The Orchestra, featuring a public introduction by the director and main cast
  • Battle Royale II Premiere, a featurette on the film’s first screening at the Marunouchi Toei Movie Theatre
  • Trailers and TV spots
  • Image gallery

DISC FOUR – BATTLE ROYALE II: REVENGE (REGION B BLU-RAY)

  • A Tribute to Kinji Fukasaku, featuring scenes of Kinji Fukasaku on the location of Battle Royale II
  • Kinji Fukasaku’s 73rd Birthday: A Speech by Kenta Fukasaku, paying public tribute to his father

DISC FIVE – BATTLE ROYALE (SOUNDTRACK CD)

CD featuring the complete score to Battle Royale by Masamichi Amano and the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra

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