Ready To “Catch Fire?”
If you like Katniss and her friends, then you are no doubt eager and primed for the next installment of the hugely successful “Hunger Games” franchise: “Catching Fire”!
Here is the plot for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” – After winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen returns home to District 12 along with fellow winner Peeta Mellark. Shortly after returning home, they must embark on a “Victory Tour” of the districts, leaving behind their close friends and family again.
On the day of the Victory Tour, President Snow threatens Katniss’ best friend and pretend cousin, Gale Hawthorne, outraged after she and Peeta broke the rules of the 74th Hunger Games that allowed them both to win.
During the tour, Katniss senses that a rebellion is brewing in the districts, but the Capitol is still firmly in control as Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games, known as a Quarter Quell, an event taken place every 25 years – a competition that could change Panem forever.
So, first of all, “The Hunger Games” was a very entertaining movie, and “Catching Fire” sounds like it will also prove to be a worldwide smash hit. Author Suzanne Collins has created a unique world that fans have embraced. That said, don’t forget that Japan gave us the original “couple on the run playing a deadly game” movie:
With the phenomenon that is “The Hunger Games”, and the release of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”, I thought you might be interested in this brilliant Japanese movie from 2000 – the original “hunger games!”
Welcome To “BATTLE ROYALE”!
I have called this “the original hunger games”, and I am about to show you why! First, check out the trailer:
As you can see from the tag line, it is a provocative and similar message to “The Hunger Games” – as contestants have to make the ultimate decision: could you kill your best friend?
“Battle Royale” was a hugely successful, and very controvesial, japanese film set in a future Japan, where the government devises a radical plan to control youthful rebellion!
In order to keep Japan’s rowdy youth in check, the government puts one class of ninth grade students on a remote island, gives them each a weapon, and lets them loose in a fight to the death! “Hunger Games” indeed!
As you can see, the basic setup of “Battle Royale” is similar to the concept for “Hunger Games” – the government keeping rebellious thought in check through a forced “Game to the death”…but each film goes in a completely different direction, tackling social and cultural issues along the way.
”My favorite movie of the last 20 years – I wish I had made this movie.” – Quentin Tarantino
As you can see, “Battle Royale” has a lot of fans…
Cue The Bloodshed!
“Battle Royale” is, in some ways, everything that “Hunger Games” isn’t….as in, bloody and violent! This film is much bloodier than “The Hunger Games”, which made it even more controversial upon release.
Despite being restricted to those aged 15 and over in Japan when it opened in 2000, “Battle Royale” quickly became both a critical and box office success, both domestically and in other Asian film markets. Oh, and did I say it was controversial?
And though the film will probably be remembered more for its graphic exploitation of teen violence, “Battle Royale” also makes some rather pointed remarks about Japanese society and history.
”If you love The Hunger Games, Battle Royale sets the stage. One of the best – and most violent – genre films ever made. It’s also a hell of a lot of fun.” – Entertainment Weekly
Battle Royale was directed by Kinji Fukasaku, and was based on the graphic novel of the same name.
The film aroused international controversy and is still banned in many countries. It never received a theatrical release in the US, as it came out soon after the Columbine tragedy. For many years it wasn’t even officially available on home video in the states.
However, the film is one of the highest grossing films in Japan. Director Kinji Fukasaku started working on a sequel but he died of prostate cancer in 2003, after shooting only one scene. His son, Kenta Fukasaku, completed the sequel in 2003 and dedicated it to his father.
Teacher Kitano: “So today’s lesson is, you kill each other off till there’s only one left. Nothing’s against the rules.”
Many members of the Japanese Parliament tried to get the novel banned, but to no avail. When the film was released, they attempted to ban it also. Both efforts resulted in the novel and film becoming even more successful as people bought the book and went to the movie to see what the fuss was all about.
One reason the film received such acclaim is due to Takashi Kitano, one of Japan’s most famous actors.
He is known in Japan as “Beat” Takashi, and his involvement in “Battle Royale” gave the film a much higher profile in Japan.
Takashi is a brilliant Actor and Director, with a intense personal life as well. In 1994, Kitano was involved in a motorcycle accident and suffered injuries that caused the paralysis of one side of his body, and required extensive surgery to regain the use of his facial muscles. Kitano later stated that the accident was actually an “unconscious suicide attempt”.
“ZATOICHI – THE BLIND SWORDSMAN!
In 2003, Kitano made the brilliant “Zatoichi”, the legendary Japanese story of a blind swordsman who wanders the countryside in feudal Japan and dispenses his own brand of justice – Takashi starred in as well as directed.
This is also a terrific movie, so check it out as well on DVD! But, back to “Battle Royale”…
“BATTLE ROYALE” ON BLU!
Yes, “Battle Royale” is now a gorgeous new blu-ray transfer…if you want to go crazy, look at what they are offering up –
THE COMPLETE “BATTLE ROYALE” COLLECTION!
Complete Collection (4 discs): The four discs are (1) Director’s Cut of the film, (2) Theatrical Cut, (3) 2003’s sequel “Battle Royale II” and (4) Bonus Content.
Bonus Disc Content includes: The Making Of BATTLE ROYALE, BATTLE ROYALE Press Conference, Instructional Video: Birthday Version, Audition & Rehearsal Footage, Special Effects Comparison Featurette, Tokyo International Film Festival 2000, Battle Royale Documentary, Basketball Scene Rehearsals, Behind-The-Scenes Featurette, Filming On-Set, Original Theatrical Trailer, Special Edition TV Spot, TV Spot: Tarantino Version.
So there you go: have fun with “The Hunger Games” in theaters, but check out this classic inspiration as well!
Categories: Artsploitation, Asian Cult Cinema, Books / Media, Camp Cult Classics, Classic Action Films, Cult Classics, Exploitation Films, Extreme Cinema, Japanese Exploitation, JRsploitation, Talent / Celebrites, Uncategorized