The Plot: In the future, a dystopian society passes a law that requires tournaments where children fight to the death. Numbered pairs of boys and girls are taken to a isolated outdoor hunting ground where they are given a bag full of supplies and a variety of weapons and told to kill each other until only one person is left (and then they get to go home.) Carnage ensues with regular announcements of the deaths as they occur and in the end a young couple bucks the rules and both survive.
Sound familiar? Yeah, it’s the plot of Battle Royale, a Japanese movie directed by Kinji Fukasaku in 2000, based on the 1999 book written by Koushun Takami.
I never read the book The Hunger Games, but saw the movie with a group of friends when it came out. Almost immediately I starting hearing allegations that The Hunger Games was a direct rip off of Battle Royale.
So I decided to find out for myself and watch Battle Royale, which is now available streaming on Netflix.
Let’s start with a little more background. Battle Royale the movie was released in 2001, but was only shown in the US in two lesser known film festivals, was not released on DVD and faded into obscurity in the US. Then comes The Hunger Games. The book was published in 2008 (with the movie to follow in 2012) and resulted in the author claiming she had never heard of Battle Royale when she published The Hunger Games.
I’m calling pants on fire. For so much of the plot line and story details to be practically identical and then try to say it is “coincidence”, I’m just not buying it.
Were there differences in the two movies? Sure, but only in minor plot details. Battle Royale had more “Friday the 13th” style gore, where The Hunger Games went a little more Twilight-ish. Battle Royale chose a 9th grade class to fight to the death, where Hunger had tributes. Hunger had Lenny Kravitz giving the heroine medication when she was hurt on the battlefield and Royale had Tarô Yamamoto. Battle was outdoors on a island. Hunger was in a domed outdoor world. You get the picture.
So my thoughts are, if you would like to see a Hollywood version of Battle Royale without subtitles, with Taylor Swift music versus classical music, go see The Hunger Games.
They also made a Battle Royale II in 2003 where the “winner” of the previous event was villainized by the government and has to go back and fight again. I wonder what Catching Fire will be about. I’m just saying…