Monday, May 17, 2010

In Haste: Battle Royale

What did I just watch?  The thing about quite a number of these Asian thrillers is the strange balancing act they tiptoe between splatter, action-adventure, and melodrama.  Battle Royale appears to merrily oscillate from serious survival epic, a psychological horror film, and an after-school 'treat the weird kid nice or he might end up becoming a school shooter because of your meanness' flick.  Despite the meandering tone, the film faithfully provides portrait after portrait of bludgeoned teenagers. 

Where do I go with all these images?  I must admit the plot which motivates the annihilation of some 40-odd budding young youths is darkly tantalizing.  It is happily reminiscent for me of Stephen King's "The Long Walk", and the classic cheeseball 80's Arnie flick, "The Running Man".  Furthermore, persistent record-keeping the film takes to list the recently departed souls also provides a creepy smirk to my slowly building bloodlust.  This bloodlust the film imparts to me is caused by nature of the subject matter which never quite lets me settle into the action comfortably (maybe that's intended), the result of which stirs within me a nihilistic nonchalance about the fate of all the characters.

Who is to blame for all this carnage?  One element of the film that is clear is the relationship between adults and the youth generation.  There is an innate hostility there.  This uneasiness (to put it lightly) is never lessened, and therefore the film's prescription at the tale's end is predestined: "Run!"  The youth can't trust their educators, and the old are forced to serve the young in everyday culture, so the lesson can only be trust no one, and never stop running.

How trustworthy is this theme in present day Japan?  Has it become only a society of cradle idolization?  What a self-defeating idea.  This type of world impregnates the individual with dissatisfaction, and yet leaves no one to point the finger of blame at.  How can you punish the young for the crimes you've instilled in them?

Why go on?  I'm not getting any younger...