If you know anything about Japanese cinema, you probably know about the 2000 Kinji Fukasaku movie “Battle Royale”. And if you know of it, you either love it with a fiery, cult-favorite passion, or you were immediately turned off by all the violence aimed at youngsters. I’m of the “love it” persuasion, not because of the violence, but perhaps in spite of it. I’m not a person who needs excessive gore for a gritty film to be deemed good, and I certainly am not usually a fan of kids being maimed or killed on film (unless it’s a cheesy slasher flick, which is all in good fun). What attracted me to “Battle Royale” is the story itself, which focuses on a group of high school kids who are taken to a secret government compound for a fight to the death, in which only one person remains standing. It’s a unique and wholly terrifying look at what happens to us humans when wer’e put into a violent, “me or them” situation.
While it’s a MUCH more violent and no-holds-barred film than “The Hunger Games”–which was so successful it blew even elevated anticipated numbers out of the water– the latter takes quite a few queues from the former. It shouldn’t come as a shock, then, to learn that the CW may be looking at adding a new show based on the film to their program lineup. Not a shock; more of a disappointment.
For one thing, it’s always difficult to translate the success of a foreign film on American celluloid. And I don’t mean financial success; we all saw that “The Grudge”, “The Ring”, “The Eye”, and films of the like did phenomenally well here in the states after being adapted from their Asian counterparts. But a big part of what made them so successful was that most of them were brought down to a PG-13 rating from either an R or even unrated original; why, you ask? Well, because American teenagers are a huge part of horror audiences, and they can’t get in to an R-rated flick. PG-13 = more money. Unfortunately, that means cutting out a big chunk of the good stuff; not just the gore and violence, but things that are integral to the plot to make the story speak to the viewer.
Obviously, a CW show and a PG-13 film have a lot in common. And while they can get away with a few more things than, say, The Family Channel, there would still have to be a whole lot of changes made if a show was to spinoff from a film like “Battle Royale”. And that is hugely disappointing for fans of the movie.