Battle Royale

Veteran director Kinji Fukasaku is kind of like the Sam Peckinpah of Japan, only here we have ninth graders, not cowboys, battling to the death in 2000's Battle Royale. The nutty premise that has these sweet-faced, uniformed schoolkids confined to an island until one survivor's alive naturally recalls Lord of the Flies, but entertainment isn't the point to this carnage-ridden spectacular. There are no cameras to relay the allegiances, betrayals, and gore to an imaginary viewing audience; instead, the blood sport is meant as a cautionary, punitive example against disobedient youngsters. On hand as a gruff teacher is Takeshi Kitano, who jeers, "So today's lesson is—you kill each other off!" Even if it lacks a coherent ending, the black comedic Battle brilliantly escalates the hair-trigger volatility of adolescent emotion to its illogical conclusion. (R) BRIAN MILLER

Fridays, 11 p.m. Starts: March 2. Continues through March 30, 2012

 
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