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"Happy 10th Anniversary, Battle Royale! Hope You Like 3D."

Toei plans revamp of cult classic, plus, J-movie news from Cannes.

Battle Royale to Get 3D Treatment?


 Finally we can all watch Oda's head explode from that grenade...in 3D!
 Finally we can all watch Oda's head explode from that grenade...in 3D!
Since the release of Avatar Hollywood studios have been falling over each other to find new and expensive ways to employ their fancy 3D camera tech and pass the buck to we, the audience. Sometimes this means shooting an entirely new movie in the format, other times it's converting footage to it. Perhaps Japan's film elite were feeling like their American counterparts were getting lonely, I can't say for sure, but yesterday screendaily.com reported that Japanese film powerhouse Toei is throwing their hat into the ring by converting the hyper-violent cult sensation Battle Royale into 3D. The move is being spearheaded by Kenta Fukasaku, son of Battle Royale's director, Kinji Fukasaku, who died in 2003 shortly into the filming of its sequel and left most of the direction of his company to Kenta. 
 
If you haven't had the pleasure of seeing Battle Royale, it's the story of a dystopian near-future Japan where each year a single class of students is selected to participate in a free-for-all fight to the death on a deserted island where only one student may remain alive. Each student is fitted with an explosive collar that prevents escape (as well as having other features), given basic supplies and a random weapon before being tossed to the wolves. Needless to say, the worst part of teenage angst and pettiness--not to mention some certifiable psychos--inevitably whittle the group down with gory efficiency for our entertainment. 
 
Despite the blood-soaked content, however, the film is not merely violence for the sake of violence. In interviews Fukasaku stated that Battle Royale was a reflection of his experience as a witness to inhumanity towards the end of WWII and his feelings about how Japan's adults are failing their children. With this in mind, and the fact that the movie was never a visually saturated effects-driven blockbuster, I'm really wondering why Toei would go through the considerable expense (estimated in the millions) to convert this ten-year-old cult classic to 3D. Well, other than for the money, that is. If green is all that drives them then Battle Royale is best left as is, preserved as a landmark to turn-of-the-century Japanese film and a tribute to its late, great director.          
 

Cannes Audiences Feel the Beat of Takeshi Kitano's Latest Gangster Flick


Beat Takeshi: you may know him from the American rebroadcast of his late 80s obstacle course game show MXC, or from his short appearance in the ill-fated cyberpunk action thriller Johnny Mnemonic (though I truly wish you'd forget that one), or as the disturbed teacher from the aforementioned Battle Royale. Hopefully he's familiar as a prolific face in Japanese yakuza films for the past couple decades, kicking ass and quite often dying bloodily. On top of acting, though, Kitano's also a skillful director, making a number of iconic genre films including Hanabi, Brother, Zatoichi and more. His newest gangster epic is called Outrage, a tale of two thugs whose minor misunderstanding erupts into bloody war between underworld factions. It's an old school mob film, devoid of complicated plots, twists of fate and overwrought melodrama that focuses neatly on bad people being bad to each other. 
 
And critics so far love it. For my money, Kitano's never failed to amaze and this is one writer who'll be first in line when this is screened here in the States.
ShadowKnight508 moderator on May 18, 2010 at 11:05 a.m.
Nice...I remember reading the first book of Battle Royal back in 2005...at the time it was a litte too over-the-top in the violence department for my liking. Did not know of a movie, so I might look into this.
DonChipotleon May 18, 2010 at 11:31 a.m.
I love the Battle Royale film and book. If it gets remade in 3D I think I just might pop a blood vessel.

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