First released overseas more than a decade, the futuristic Japanese survivalist action-drama Battle Royale is finally coming to DVD and Blu-ray for the first time in the United States. Distributor Anchor Bay Entertainment has even cut a brand new trailer to promote the release. You can watch it here below.
The film is based on a popular manga and is set in a time where overpopulation and an unstable economy forces the Japanese government to institute the Battle Royale Act, whereupon one class of students will be taken each year against their will to a small island and forced to fight for their lives. Outfitted with tracking devices and given an array of weapons that range from the dangerous (swords, machine guns) to the absurd (pot lids), the students finds themselves in for the literal fight of their adolescent lives. By the end of the day only one will remain standing.
Battle Royale is the best-known film of the late Japanese filmmaker Kinji Fukasaku. Throughout his four-decade-long career as a director he has called the shots on violent Yakuza gangster epics and cheesy B-movies like The Green Slime and the infamous Star Wars rip-off Message from Space. Fukasaku earned some early career respectability for directing the Japanese segments of Tora, Tora, Tora, the 1970 epic drama about the attack on Pearl Harbor. He passed away on January 12, 2003 while in production on Battle Royale II so his son Kenta took over the directing reigns in his absence.
Contrary to popular belief Battle Royale was never officially banned in the U.S., but the shootings that took place at Columbine High School in early 1999 were said to have dissuaded many of the film’s potential Stateside distributors from picking it up for an American release. The film managed to achieve cult status in North America thanks to bootleg DVDs and the magic of all-region DVD players. Quentin Tarantino is an acknowledged rabid fan of the movie, even going as far as hiring one of its stars, Chiaki Kuriyama, to play the deadly, mace-wielding assassin Go-Go Yubari in his Kill Bill. Battle Royale finally began its first U.S. theatrical run this past Christmas Eve at Los Angeles’ Silent Movie Theater.
Battle Royale will be available on DVD and Blu-ray and four-disc Complete Collection DVD and Blu-ray on March 20, 2012. The Complete Collection set includes both Battle Royale movies along with hours of bonus features.