Posts Tagged ‘Battle Royale’

Hunger Games isn’t the first film to pit human against human for sport

Jennifer-Lawrence-In-The-Hunger-Games-Mockingjay-Part-1-ImagesBy Richard Crouse – Metro Canada

Since the release of the first Hunger Games novel in 2008, literary sleuths have picked it apart, searching for connections to other books and films.

The scrutiny increased when the first film in the tetralogy set records for the biggest opening weekend for a non-sequel in 2012, and continues unabated with the release of this weekend’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1.

Based on Suzanne Collins’s mega-successful series, the movies are set in a dystopian world ruled by a fascist-style president (Donald Sutherland) who presides over The Hunger Games, a televised battle-to-the-death between 24 young players, two from each of the country’s districts, including Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson).

The series draws on things we’ve seen before, in everything from the human sacrifices of Greek mythology or Survivor-style television shows to news stories of government corruption to create a world with its own rules, style and customs.

The most often-cited influence is Battle Royale, a 2000 Japanese movie based on a book by Koushun Takami. Like The Hunger Games, it’s a story of school kids in a televised government-sanctioned death match.

Battle Royale’s DVD box set even included a quote from a critic suggesting there’d be no Hunger Games without the Japanese film. “This is the movie that started it all,” it reads.

Hunger fans were quick to point out differences in the two films. The Japanese movie is about survival, they said, while Collins wrote about revolution. The author revealed her main influences were reality television and the Iraq war.

“I had never heard of that book or that author until my book was turned in,” she told the New York Times.

It’s worth noting that the idea of humans being preyed upon for the entertainment of the upper classes dates back at least as far as 1932’s The Most Dangerous Game. The story of a big-game hunter who tracks humans for sport on an isolated island is based on a Richard Connell short story that also loosely inspired episodes of everything from Gilligan’s Island to Lost in Space. Since then, Norman Jewison’s Rollerball, Roger Corman’s Deathrace 2000 (and its 2008 Jason Statham remake) and The Running Man have mined similar territory.

As for the author who wrote Battle Royale, he gave ABC News a very diplomatic answer when asked about the similarities between the two stories. “I think every novel has something to offer,” he said. “If readers find value in either book, that’s all an author can ask for.”

‘Every man for himself’ makes for great films In Focus by Richard Crouse METRO CANADA Published: March 20, 2012

hunger-games-movie-wp_trio01If you’ve read The Hunger Games novels, you’re likely excited about the big screen adaptation hitting theatres this Friday. The story of a dystopian world where children killing children is a national pastime — think American Idol, only with knives — was a mega-hit in book stores and promises to pack theatres.

But if the movie lineups are enough to keep you away from the theatre on Saturday night, here are some similar themed movies to get you in the mood.

Battle Royale is the ultra-violent Japanese cousin to The Hunger Games.

The movie is a futuristic nightmare about a group of kids who are shipped off to a remote island and forced to wage war against one another until only one remains.

The film’s bloody conflict enraged the Japanese censors who tried to ban the movie, but their plan backfired. Slapping a tough R15 rating on the film only increased people’s desire to see it. “Because it was forbidden,” says director Kinji Fukasaku, “they wanted to watch it even more.”

Also breathing the same air is Series 7: The Contenders, a parody of reality television where contestants hunt down and murder one another. This gory satire won a passing grade from Roger Ebert who said, “It’s not the idea that people will kill each other for entertainment that makes Series 7 jolting. What the movie correctly perceives is that somewhere along the line we’ve lost all sense of shame in our society.”

The idea of televising human blood sports isn’t new to the reality TV era, however. Years before Survivor made the phrase, “You’ve been voted off the island” a household term, Steven King and Arnold Schwarzenegger unleashed The Running Man on audiences.

Arnold plays a wrongly convicted man fighting for his survival on a TV game show, overseen by Family Feud host Richard Dawson.

“I’ll be back!” Arnold says, mimicking his Terminator catchphrase. “Only in a rerun,” says Dawson, who hopes Arnold bites it and gives the show a spike in ratings.

Finally, director Norman Jewison imagined a theme similar to The Hunger Games in his 1975 film Rollerball.

Set in 2018, it’s about a deadly sport that combines roller derby, hockey, football and a generous helping of violence.

The movie’s style seems a bit dated but the ideas aren’t. Jewisons’ prophetic take on violence, the influence of corporations and the state of entertainment are bang on.