Battle Royale II: Requiem (Batoru Rowaiaru II: Rekuiemu)
Directors – Kenta & Kinji Fukasaku, Screenplay – Kenta Fukasaku & Norio Kida, Based on the Novel by Koshun Takami, Producer – Shigeyuki Endo, Photography – Junichi Fujisawa, Music – Masamichi Amano, Production Design – Toshihiro Isomi. Production Company – Fukasaku-gumi/Toei
Tatsuya Fujiwara (Shuya Nanahara), Shugo Osinari (Takuma Aoi), Riki Takeuchi (Teacher Riki Dakeuchi), Ai Maeda (Siori Kitano), Ayana Sakai (Nao Asakura), Haruka Suenaga (Haruka Kuze), Yuma Ishigaki (Mitsugu Sakai), Miyuki Kanbe (Kyoko Kakei), Masaya Kikawada (Shintaro Makimura), Yoko Maki (Maki Hayada), Aja (Kazumi Fukuda)
It is three years following the Battle Royale and Shuya Nanahara has become a wanted terrorist after declaring war against all adults. A class of 42 troubled students from Sikanotoride Middle School are gassed unconscious and wake up to find themselves thrown into a new Battle Royale. They have had collars placed on them and learn that these will detonate if the person they are paired with strays too far away or dies. They are given weapons and sent to Shuya’s island base where they must eliminate him within three days if they are to survive the game. Their numbers are brutally eliminated in the furious battle that erupts. After coming face to face with Shuya, he instead offers them the opportunity to turn against their controllers and join his revolution.
Battle Royale (2000) was a cult classic, both in Japan and in the West, for its entertainingly over-the-top ultra-violence and its wittily satiric escalation of the idea that would in a very short period become the essence of the reality tv show. Kinji Fukasaku, the director of the original and a veteran director in Japanese cinema, returned with this sequel. Unfortunately, Fukasaku died halfway through production and the film was taken over and completed by his son Kenta, who had written the original Battle Royale.
For a time, Battle Royale II: Requiem starts out seeming to offer what all sequels do – more of the same but with the scale of the first film having been upped. Thus we have another class selected for combat – but this time in a gimmick borrowed from Wedlock/Deadlock (1991) the combatants are coupled in electronic collars that will explode if they move too far apart, while they are now given a mission and sent to kill the hero that survived the first film. This starts out well and the Fukasakus direct some brutally intensive battle scenes that they have seemingly modelled on the gritty battlefield realism of Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan (1998).
Alas, things go astray. For one, the satiric premise of the original seems strained being made to fit the new concept involving conscripted student commandos. Soon the Battle Royale concept is forgotten about and Requiem turns into a war film. You cannot deny that the battle scenes have a fierce intensity but what you also cannot also deny is that they do drag on and on. It becomes increasingly clear that the film has little in the way of plot – and 143 minutes (155 in the director’s cut) consisting of not a lot more than scenes with people ducking and being hit by bullets while running around ruined buildings does start to seem too much. It is not at all clear what Shuya’s rebellion is against, or why another country (it appears to be the USA) is firing missiles on the Battle Royale island. Riki Takeuchi, taking over the part of the game controller/teacher played by Beat Takeshi in the original, gives an astonishingly lunatic and eye-rollingly over-the-top performance.