Battle Royale

series-7-the-contenders

It’s too bad I already recommended The Running Man this month (for post-Ender’s Game viewing), because even more than the first Hunger Games movie it really fits well with the new second installment, Catching Fire. But that’s okay, you can still add that to this week’s bunch of movies to see. I just won’t include it below. The same goes for Battle Royale, the most obvious movie to highlight for being similar to this franchise, though that one does make more sense as something to recommend after the first movie. Should Battle Royale II: Requiem take its place now that we’re talking about The Hunger Games 2? I haven’t seen it and hear it’s really terrible and it doesn’t seem to coincide plot-wise, so no. Instead I’ve got 12 other movies better worth your time as you wait for the first part of Mockingjay to hit theaters and continue the abruptly halted narrative of the Hunger Games story. As usual, the list will probably involve some spoilers if you haven’t seen Catching Fire.  

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The Hunger Games

Today, the odds may ever be in your favor. Just as The Hunger Games was named by Amazon to be the e-tailer’s all-time best selling book series, the film adaptation starring Jennifer Lawrence hits shelves on Blu-ray and DVD. And as $684 million in international box office grosses might suggest, this one’s a fairly popular choice among movie fans. So as a site that invites movie fans of all walks of life to discuss their favorite films, we thought it proper to take The Hunger Games and build a little mini-marathon that you can act out in your own living room. Because if you’re into this movie, you may have a taste for blood. Or tough girls. Either way, pairing The Hunger Games up with some of cinema’s great fights to the death is far from a bad idea. Or perhaps you’re just a guy who is going to be asked to sit and watch the Katniss movie by the girl of your dreams. Why not propose a trade? “We’ll watch the teen lit film if we can also watch one of these…” With that in mind, we’d like to know which great blood sports you’d pair with The Hunger Games. But first, a few suggestions.

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Tomboy Movie

The beginning of each month is an exciting time wherein Netflix dumps a large number of new titles onto their streaming service. Comb through those titles as well as others added in the past couple of weeks, and a few great titles bubble to the surface. Let’s take a look at a documentary about urban design, a drama about adolescent sexual identity, an existential Western from the vaults, and a few more movies worth streaming this week.

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Who doesn’t love watching teenagers fight? These days it’s just nice to see them doing something that gets them outside and moving around – not to mention the wonders it does for team building skills and self esteem issues. Compared to them sitting in a moist den somewhere playing Skyrim and housing six servings of Zesty Salsa Combos, youth violence isn’t the worst fate for our nation’s children. Anyhoo – Here are some of the better films that celebrate the time-honored tradition of kids punching each other to pass the time.

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The Hunger Games

Maybe our science fiction writers have failed us with all their damned pessimism, or maybe we’re all just obsessed with the world ending because it’s definitely going to stop spinning this year. Either way, everyone on this doomed planet is currently obsessed with the cold, distant Dystopian futures of hits like The Hunger Games. Now it’s time to figure out what it all means (which also means a bit of psychoanalysis). Good thing the Jennifer Lawrence-starring flick has people hungrily dissecting it for meaning. The results? Old Jewish heroines, our cinematic past, Occupy Wall Street, unspoken sexuality and the anti-Twilight.

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Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr is feeling hungry. Of course, this is nothing strange because he’s always feeling hungry. But this week, he’s extra hungry because only one movie is opening wide, and that is the highly anticipated adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ novel, The Hunger Games. So Kevin grabs a bow and arrow, a tub of magical antibiotics, tracker jacker repellant and a big bucket of popcorn to check out what is sure to be the next big young-adult-novel-turned-billion-dollar-franchise. (Spoiler alert: Kevin is still hungry when the movie is over, but that’s no surprise either.)

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We’ve already signed up hundreds of people for FSR Dating – the first dating site for movie fans – and to aid the endeavor to provide all of our readers with that special tingle, we’re tossing out a few ideas (that you can totally claim as your own) for forming dates around this week’s releases. They’re perfect for finding a new flame or for re-wooing your current wife/girlfriend/husband/boyfriend. This week involves a triple header of a bunch of kids fighting to the death, an Asian action flick where men are trying to kill each other, and an Asian flick where a bunch of kids are fighting to the death. Perfect for romance to bloom. Gather ye rosebuds while you can. Check out these thematic date ideas, sack up, and go ask someone out. Then send us the pictures.

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This Week in DVD

Hey kids, it’s This Week In DVD time again! There’s a whopping six releases worth buying this week, and four of them are foreign language flicks. Make of that what you will. Look below for my recommendations on Gainsbourg, The Sitter, Hop, The Muppets, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and… Clown Hunt? As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Battle Royale It’s the near future, and Japan has grown so tired of their violently out of control youth that they’ve organized an annual event featuring a randomly chosen class forced to fight to the death on a distant island. This release has been a long time coming. The movie is over ten years old, but while it’s utterly fantastic this is the first US release for reasons of misguided political correctness. It’s wonderfully violent and bloody film that also happens to have some interesting things to say about society and the cycle of violence… but you can ignore all that if you choose and just focus on the stylishly violent encounters between kids, cliques and even friends. Anchor Bay has released the film in two versions. The single disc only includes the director’s cut, which adds some interesting character bits but is slightly inferior to the theatrical. The one listed to the right though is their beautiful four-disc set that includes the theatrical and director’s cuts plus the mediocre sequel plus multiple extras.

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While the film has never had an American release, it seems like Kinji Fukasaku‘s Battle Royale (based on the novel by Koushun Takami) has already been seen by every cinephile who has sought it out (I saw it just a couple of weeks ago at Los Angeles’ own Cinefamily, when it had its first American theatrical run). The film never got an official U.S. release, because its subject matter (kids killing kids!) struck a little too close to home when the film was first made and ready for U.S. distribution (in 2000, post-Columbine). But it has shown at various festivals and has been readily available on bootleg DVD in the twelve years since, though it’s still worth celebrating that the film is finally getting an official home video release in the U.S., thanks to Anchor Bay. Of course, the timing of the release does coincide quite perfectly with another film based on a book that mines very similar territory. Like Battle Royale, the upcoming The Hunger Games film follows a government-sponsored fight to the death between teens. The comparisons between the two of been made many times, but as our pal Russ Fischer over at /Film notes, author Suzanne Collins “maintains that she had never seen or heard of Battle Royale before writing her books,” something he finds “difficult to believe — it seems like someone whose interests run to the sort of material represented in The Hunger Games would have known Battle Royale — but I suppose it is […]

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With DJ Caruso directing Preacher, it becomes the second cult western literary adaptation to be taken on by an averagely talented, workhorse director (although Caruso doesn’t even come close to Ron Howard’s league). This might be the natural evolution of “geek” properties being co-opted by Hollywood. A decade ago, it was Sam Raimi bringing his Evil Dead prowess to a web-slinging comic of note. Now, the grittier material is getting notice, but middling directors will start earning the paycheck. So it goes. The list of directors who could bring the story of a Texas preacher man whose been imbued with the power of pure goodness and pure evil (and the power to command people to do his bidding) to life is a long one. So is the list of directors better suited than DJ Caruso. Here are just seven of them (ranging from the obvious to the not-so), but feel free to brainstorm more:

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Japan has seen a virtual tsunami of quality films leave their shores over the years to touch down in foreign lands and convert innocent and unaware film lovers into lifelong fans. Most of these movies accomplish this after being picked up for domestic distribution in theaters or on DVD, but sometimes it’s not that straight forward. Battle Royale is a critically acclaimed, stylistically violent, and visually exciting satire that is more than a decade old… and it has yet to see an official release in the US. Until n– well no, it’s still not available domestically. But thanks to the wonderful Brits over at Arrow Video fans of the film can finally see Kinji Fukasaku’s final film in all its remastered glory. The film may not pack the some visceral punch it did ten years ago, but there’s no denying its entertaining mix of the satirical and the exploitative. Both the Blu-ray and DVD versions look better than it ever has before, and it’s packed with special features across three discs. Three beautifully region free discs…

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Whether they are hitting shelves This Week in DVD or This Week in Blu-ray, chances are slim that a great home video release gets by either Rob Hunter or Neil Miller. Together, they provide some of the blogosphere’s most consistent (ok, mostly Rob, but you get the idea) coverage of the best take-homes from week to week. Whether you’re using them to help you fill your shopping cart or your Netflix queue, surveys have shown that you are using them. And with 2010 coming to a close, we thought it only fitting to give these two shut-ins a shot at listing their favorite home video releases of the year. From the fun to the feature-filled, there were plenty of great releases from which to choose. So prepare yourself, as you always do, to sacrifice the weight of your pocketbook in exchange for in-home cinematic bliss.

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Santa Claus: “And what do you want for Christmas this year little boy?” Robbie: [silence] Santa Claus: “How about a nice football?” Robbie: [silence] Santa Claus: “Okay, get him out of here.” Robbie: [Robbie is shoved down the slide, but he stops himself and climbs back up] “No! No! I want to see Asian high school girls wearing skirts and knee socks shooting, slicing, and stabbing each other in a battle royale last person standing blood bath of a film!” Santa Claus: “You’ll shoot your wad out, kid.” [He presses his boot to Robbie's face and pushes him back down the slide] “Ho. Ho. Ho.”

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Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale is one hell of a beautiful movie. Forty two high school students dropped onto an otherwise deserted island and  forced to fight each other to the death for the right to go home. Action, horror, dark comedy, and deep social commentary all rolled into one absolutely brilliant film anchored with a strong performance by the legendary Takeshi Kitano. The movie is ten years old but has yet to see an official US release, and until now has only been available on import DVD. Well there’s still no US release, but that’s okay… Arrow Video in the UK has just announced the specs for their upcoming Blu-ray and DVD editions of the film, and in addition to being jammed to the gills with all sorts of incredible extras both formats are going to be REGION FREE. (Be sure to check out the Cult-Labs forum for more info on the release.) And in addition to that? It will include both the theatrical and the director’s cuts. Arrow produces absolutely amazing discs from the packaging on down to the extras, and this release looks to be one of their best yet. Check below for the Blu-ray specs (the DVD is identical minus any HD formatting) and then hurry up and head over to AmazonUK to reserve your copy of the Blu-ray or DVD now. Features listed as “LE EXCLUSIVE” are only available in the first 5000 pressings. Arrow Video’s Battle Royale will be released in the UK on November […]

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Your daily recommended allowance of random movie stuff, stories that fell through the cracks, and news you can’t use.

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Hideo Nakata is going to shove ten people into a bunker and make them murder each other. Get excited.

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decade_foreignfilms

As part of our epic, two week long Decade in Review, master of the Foreign Objects Rob Hunter lays down his picks of the best foreign language films of the decade.

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