Directed by Kinji Fukasuku, starring Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Taro Yamamoto and Beat Takeshi.

Japan at the dawn of a new millennium: the education system has been eaten away by the cancer of rebellious and out-of-control students. Teachers have jettisoned efforts to educate the youth, while classrooms have been turned into dangerous dens of disaffection, violence and chaos. As the plague of juvenile delinquency reaches epidemic proportions, the Government decides to fight fire with fire and instigates operation Battle Royale.

Each year, a high school class is chosen randomly, escorted to a desert island where they are given arms, and ordered to murder each other until only one remains. The 'winner' will then be allowed to re-join society. What follows is a protracted cat-and-mouse scenario of crumbling trust, suicide and, of course, murder as the students discover that Battle Royale is not a game. Unfortunately, it isn't a good film either.

The ultimate problem with 'Battle Royale' lies in the exposition of teenage rebellion. The filmmakers go to great lengths to assure us that the Government views these youngsters as being beyond societal salvation, yet the characters we see are typical of teenagers everywhere: they flirt, they tease, they dislike authority and, a dead give-away this, they yearn to fit in. The only difference between these teenagers and any others is that this crowd is damn resilient: it takes at least ten bullets to eliminate any of them. Like its US counterpart 'Series 7: The Contenders', 'Battle Royale' is another deeply flawed addition to the deeply offensive phenomenon of 'reality TV'.

Tom Grealis