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Battle Royale: The Complete Collection Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Video Codec: AVC/MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (23.976Hz)
  • Audio Codec: Japanese Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz/24-bit), English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (48kHz/24-bit) (Director’s Cut Only); Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 (Theatrical Cut and Battle Royale II)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: NR
  • Run Time: 369 Mins.
  • Discs: 4 (3 x Blu-ray + 1 x Special Features DVD)
  • Studio: Anchor Bay Entertainment
  • Blu-ray Release Date: March  20, 2012
  • List Price: $49.99

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Purchase Battle Royale: The Complete Collection on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for More Blu-ray Titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Films
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Films

[Rating:4/5]

Society apparently crumbled at the turn of the millennium, and with the steep downward socio-economic spiral came an unprecedented spike in juvenile delinquency. With an entire generation of high-schoolers out of control, the government steps in with The B.R. Act, which institutes an annual Battle Royale (Batoru rowaiaru) to deal with the problem. The rules are brutally easy to remember: An entire class of youngsters–abducted during a field trip–is deposited on an uninhabited island and given three days to fight one another to the death with only one winner at the end, otherwise all survivors will be executed via their exploding necklaces.

Some from among this latest group adapt to the challenge better than others, and only the bravest stand a real chance, with occasional flashbacks to provide glimmers of insight into their character. The copious violence is intermingled with quite a bit of teen drama, remnants of the life they used to know. The increasingly-blood-stained school uniforms are a disturbing touch, as is the periodic onscreen tally of the fallen.

The movie stirred up quite the controversy in its native Japan, and was ultimately re-released in a Director’s Cut a few minutes longer than the Theatrical Cut, which anyone 15 and under was banned from watching. Quentin Tarantino is apparently a fan, so much so that he cast Battle Royale co-star Chiaki Kuriyama in what would be his next film, Kill Bill.

Three years later, in Battle Royale II: Requiem (Batoru rowaiaru II: Chinkonka), a familiar Battle Royale veteran has become the leader of a global terrorist resistance to the ongoing oppression of youth, and so a new game is created. This time the teenaged participants are sent to wage a war against this antihero, thereby saving the world from the very person who is trying to help them with his targeted acts of violence. Like just about everything else in II, the pro-youth message has lost much of its subtlety, but as we would expect the sheer quantity of action is tremendous.

Video Quality

[Rating:4/5]

Both the Director’s Cut (Disc One) and the Theatrical Cut (Disc Two) as well as the sequel (Disc Three) are presented at a TV-friendly 1.78:1, and the image is usually sharp enough, despite the intermittent shot that will display a flat, slightly muted appearance.

Blacks can definitely be a little murky, a shame since so much of the movies is set at night or in shadow. I also noted some unpleasant video noise in clouds of dust or the glow of a headlight for example, and colors can go rather wonky on us at times too, but overall this is a pleasing HD presentation.

Audio Quality

[Rating:4/5]

The Director’s Cut has been given a new 7.1-channel remix, while the Theatrical Cut and Requiem are in 5.1 channels, all in their original Japanese and all encoded as Dolby TrueHD. (The Director’s Cut alone also has a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 English option.) Although a tad more love is evident in the Director’s Cut, each of the three shares a common feel, with aggressive surrounds, strong bass that seems appropriately exaggerated at times, and a wide spread to the musical score. The surrounds in particular boast some discrete voices and cues, often used to impart a sense of directionality across the multichannel soundfield when the action really gets going.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2.5/5]

The Blu-ray platters in this set are movie-only, meaning that all of the extras are relegated to Disc Four, a DVD. The content seems scraped together from whatever the disc producers could find, although I’m guessing that this is one of the most comprehensive home video editions ever, and due to their vintage the bonuses likely exist only in standard definition. They are also in Japanese, with optional English subtitles.

Together these documentaries, odd surviving video clips and more provide ample insight into the overseas production, and help to put its cultural impact into perspective. Also of note, The Complete Collection arrives packed in a handsome hardbound book.

The supplements:

  • “The Making Of Battle Royale” (1.33:1: 50:24 MPEG-2)
  • Battle Royale Press Conference” (1.33:1: 480i/30: 12:03)
  • “Instructional Video: Birthday Version” (1.33:1: 480i/30: 3:04)
  • Audition & Rehearsal Footage (1.33:1: 480i/30: 7:12)
  • Special Effects Comparison Featurette (1.33:1: 480i/60 4:18)
  • “Tokyo International Film Festival 2000” (1.33:1: 480i/60: 4:28)
  • Battle Royale Documentary (1.33:1: 480i/30: 12:10)
  • Basketball Scene Rehearsals (1.33:1: 480i/60: 8:40)
  • Behind-the-Scenes Featurette (1.33:1: 480i/60: 10:10)
  • “Filming On-Set” (1.33:1: 480i/60: 11:02)
  • Original Theatrical Trailer (1.78:1: 480i/60: 1:51)
  • Special Edition TV Spot (1.33:1: 480i/60: 0:32)
  • TV Spot: Tarantino Version (1.33:1: 480i/60: 0:32)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

This harsh, inspired cult phenom is poised to reach its biggest audience yet, with the original in two different editions plus the sequel all visually and sonically spruced up for Blu-ray. Action enthusiasts looking for an alternative to Hollywood fare should definitely jump in.

Additional Screen Captures

Battle Royale II:

[amazon-product]B006L4MX4A[/amazon-product]

Purchase Battle Royale: The Complete Collection on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for More Blu-ray Titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Films
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:4/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2.5/5]

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