(Originally posted on 2/25/04)
Holy anti-Americanism, Japan! After the violent delirium of Battle Royale, director Kinji Fukasaku -- along with his son Kenta, who finished the film after his father passed away in 2003 -- returns with the despicable Battle Royale II. It’s three years after the first film’s schoolchildren were forced to hunt each other on a remote island, and our surviving hero Shuya (Tatsuya Fujiwara) has become the leader of a terrorist organization dubbed Wild 7 that’s waging war on Japan’s adult world. Sound stupid? Well, to make matters moronically worse, Wild 7’s terrorist actions include blowing up skyscrapers resembling the World Trade Center towers and ardently idealizing Islamic “freedom fighters.” Yes, you heard me right – this is a film in which the heroes are al Qaeda surrogates and the villains are Japan’s militaristic government and, lurking in the shadows, the impudent, infantile, bomb-happy USA. Cue my uncontrollable retching. There’s a story buried in here about a new class of students forced, via the government’s BR II protocol, to infiltrate Shuya’s island headquarters and kill him, but -- putting aside the film’s frighteningly simple-minded political subtext -- the film is just a derivative war movie infatuated with aping Janusz Kaminski’s jittery, washed-out cinematography from Saving Private Ryan. The kids eventually band together and, after far too many inane monologues, beat back Japan’s grown-up army and retire to the idyllic Afghanistan mountainside for a little R&R. That the film is bereft of any well-defined characters or plot points makes it a crappy follow-up to the playfully satiric original. That it romanticizes Islamic terrorism while ridiculing American counter-terrorism efforts, however, makes it a fundamentally misguided and repugnant piece of anti-Western civilization propoganda.