*** / ****
Dir: Kinji Fukasaku
2000 Color Japanese
Not Available in the US – Rated 18 in the UK
This is the story of a high school class that wakes up to find themselves not on a school field trip, but rather on a deserted island where they are to compete in the ultimate competition. They must kill each other to stay alive and only the one person left standing will be able to leave the island.
I was a little apprehensive about watching this movie. I had heard how bloody and violent it was, but actually it could have been a lot, lot worse. I actually found myself engrossed in the character development as well as the fate of certain characters. If you don’t like the prospect of seeing friends suddenly turning on each other with guns and grenades and other weapons, then this is not the movie for you. Buried behind the gore was some good messages about the results of our actions – why did you exclude this one girl from everything? or if only you would have told this girl you liked her, she wouldn’t have shot you.
I thought that the performances of the students and the teacher were excellent, save for a few of the poor actors who don’t have much more than a stereotype to work with. Clearly, this movie is not for everyone, but if you can get past the violence, you will find a well done movie that is way better than your average Hollywood picture. I just know that I will never look at the groups of Japanese students wandering Disneyland the same way.