Three years have passed since the infamous Battle Royale massacre, and one of the kids that survived the bloody game – Shuya Nanahara (Tatsuya Fujiwara) – has set up a terrorist group, declaring war on Japan’s adults. A new game is established by the government, and the 42 randomly-selected school kids are this time given the task of storming the terrorists' island fortress to kill Nanahara within three days – or they themselves will be terminated.
Battle Royale’s thrilling mix of jet-black satire and gory teenage violence made it one of 2000’s most controversial films, and this sequel doesn’t mess around in trying to out-shock it. Requiem opens with the destruction of a pair of twinned skyscrapers in a huge city (presumably Tokyo), and ends with the surviving terrorists taking refuge in an unnamed Middle Eastern country; in between there’s a talk of the ‘Evil Empire’ that controls most of the world and debate as to the moral implications of terrorism. Which is all very well, but the rest plays out like a tedious war movie with none of the original’s savage wit or demented energy.
Veteran director Kinji Fukasaku died during the making of Requiem, his son Kenta taking up the reins. And boy, does it show. The film starts promisingly enough with a near-identical retread of the original's opening sequence, where the unlucky kids are fitted with explosive neck braces and informed of the deadly game they have been chosen for. Instead of Takeshi Kitano’s weary schoolteacher we have scenery-chewing military boss Riki Takeuchi (best known for Takashi Miike’s Dead or Alive films) and a neat twist – each teenager is paired with another, and when one dies, their partner’s neck brace will detonate. Quite how this helps their mission I’m not sure – it just means the kids die quicker – but it does provide plenty of opportunities for some splattery deaths.
Once the kids begin their task of landing on the island and trying to reach Nanahara’s fortress, it becomes less a biting satire and more a teen Saving Private Ryan. Fukasaku uses that jerky combat photography that Spielberg pioneered in his war epic, and the action is certainly excitingly directed. But one of the most shocking visual elements of the first film – that these kids are wearing school uniforms while they slaughter each other – is removed when we have the whole lot wearing identical army outfits. Battle Royale 2 maintains the gimmick of having the names of the dead appear on the screen alongside a countdown of how many of the original 42 are left, but it all seems a little redundant since Fukasaku has clearly given up on the concept of this being a ‘game’ designed to scare the shit out of Japan’s errant youth.
At 130 minutes even the action grows tiresome; there’s a plodding mid-section when the remaining teens team up with Nanahara and his gang and reflect on what their lives have come to, before it's back to the gunfights as a load of adult soldiers storm the island. Sonny Chiba pops up in a cameo, as does Takeshi Kitano in a brief flashback, and Riki Takeuchi has an amusingly bizarre death scene. It’s bloody and brutal, but also shmaltzy and monotonous. Game over methinks.
AKA: Battle Royale II: Revenge (extended original version)
[Tartan Video's limited edition 3 disc tinset gives fans of this film a treat with disc 1 featuring the movie as reviewed above, disc 2 covers the extended version of the original movie (or Revenge as it's known) whilst disc 3 consists of all the extra material including four behind-the-scenes faturettes, cast and crew interviews, 'making of the music' feature and teaser trailer]