"Battle Royale" may be one of the most interesting Japanese releases of the last years. By no means is it the mindless orgy of action and violence that part of the media want to degrade it to. The sophisticated mind too can enjoy certain elements and stylistic devices of the film. The dystopian idea of the youth losing interest in school and values and is only the shallow theme here. The movie focuses on the pupils individual reaction that, influenced by friendship, social status in the class an individual experiences, turns out different for each one of them.
This especially is pictured way better in the Extended Version due to the enhanced complexity of many characters.
A common mistake is to call the Extended Version the Director's cut of the film, as falsely advertised on the Korean Special Edition. To be precise, the shorter Theatrical Version is the official Director's Cut. Although the Extended Version has been produced by late director Kinji Fukusaku it is not his officially favored version, but more of a nod to the fans, offering them as much footage as possible. Whether or not this is true or whether the Extended Version has been produced solely for economic reasons is a different question. Worth looking at it is, regardless of the intention behind it.
For the Theatrical version there are for example the BBFC 18 UK-DVD from Tartan or the HK-DVD to choose from.
The UK-DVD only offers Japanese DD 2.0 audio but has slightly better picture quality than the HK-DVD.
The HK-DVD on the other hand offers an astonishing DTS-Track, much in favor of the classical music that is played throughout the movie. However, the colors are somewhat pale. Anyway: Given the proper equipment, one should choose the HK-DVD with its high quality DTS-track.
Much more interesting are the releases for the Extended Version:
The best known releases are the UK Tin-Box and the Special Edition from Korea.
The Korea SE offers a wider image section and slightly better image quality, as well as a very good DTS-track and animated menus. Sadly, none of the bonus material on the second disc is subtitled which makes it somewhat useless to many viewers.
The advantages of the UK-Tin are the beautiful packaging which appears much more robust than that of the Korean version. In addition, all bonus material is subtitled. There is no DTS, but the DD 5.1 audio track does its job quite well.
Nevertheless, both versions can be recommended without reservations and it is everyones own decision to choose his favorite.
The Extended Version runs longer than the Theatrical version in 27 scenes.
There is a running time difference of about 8 Min 18 Sec.
However, the alternative ending is merely a closing series of the flashbacks that already appeared in the movie. Without the alternative ending the Extended Version runs 4 Min. 57 Sec. longer than the Theatrical Version.
Due to the new scenes in the Extended Version there are numerous continuity cuts. Mostly unimportant but listed here nevertheless.
Through this, the Extended Version is missing about 28 Sec. in 11 scenes.
On top of that, alternative footage has been used on several occasions.
The opening credits are different in both versions - much fancier in the Extended.
Basketball scene 1
The Extended features another shot of Kitano wiping the blood off his hands. Then the image freezes and the voice from the off explains that the teacher left the school shortly after he incident.
(Change of scene)
Cut to the basketball game: While the players are running around enthusiastically and scoring eventually, the voice tells of them being able to maintain their happiness, regardless of the crazy world around them.
The scene offers a deeper view on some of the characters and makes later reactions on the BR program more plausible. For example, we see an outcast girl sitting around bored while the others have fun.
The bus ride
A pan over the excited pupils to the calm Nanahara is shorter in the Extended.
2-3 Sec (in the Extended Version)
The Extended Version features another shot of the soldiers and the former teacher.
After Mr. Kitano has asked: "You know this law?", two more shots of the pupils have been added.
The famous goof has been edited away here:
After Kitano has thrown the knife into the girls forehead, he pulls it out visibly lower than the forehead in the Theatrical Version, making it seem that the knife has hit her in the face instead. This mistake has been edited in the Extended.
Here the knife visibly has hit her forehead:
No time difference
As Nanahara mourns his friend Nobu, several shots of pupils are missing in the Theatrical Version.
The hacker and his friends
After the two pupils have brought the hacker his ordered equipment one shot is shortened in the Extended.
1 Sec (in the Extended Version)
As the hacker throws his friend the book with the photos, two more photos are shown in the Extended. With the last photo the Theatrical Version continues.
A shot of the boy dragging the injured Nanahara out of the water is missing in the Extended.
3 Sec (in the Extended Version)
The lighthouse is seen a bit longer in the TV before the girl comes around the corner.
0,5 Sec (In the Extended Version)
As the girl tells Nanahara who has been killed while he was unconscious the Extended features a flashback on the events of the last night:
Nanahara remembers how Oda has died and that they were attacked by Kiriyama, the volunteer. - The flashback is very helpful since we get to know exactly who Oda was (the girl has just mentioned him as deceased).
The Theatrical Version simply goes on and Nanahara utters an exhausted "Oh." - The short scene with the "Oh." is missing in the Extended Version: After Nanahara remembers, the Extended continues with the dialogue after the "Oh.". (about 1 Sec is therefore missing in the EV)
Additional flashback in the EV:
As the girl reports that Mizuho and Kaori have died a flashback follows showing the pupils leaving the headquarter with their BR equipment. One of the two has told the other that they still were friends. Only then follows the changeover to the two dead girls on the cliff. - Here too we are able to better absorb the fate of the two since we get to know exactly who has died.
In the Extended Version the camera pans over the dead girls much slower.
The girl goes on to tell that Takiguchi and Hatagami has been reported dead. (up until here both versions are identical). - As the scene changes over to the two dead boys and Mitsuko getting dressed, the EV features two additional close ups of the corpses. Only after this follows the long shot of the corpses.
Cut back to Nanahara and the girl. In the Theatrical Version the shot starts a little earlier: The girl doesn't move at first, then produces a watch from her folded arms.
1,5 Sec (in the Extended Version)
After Nanahara asked the girl whether she had bandaged him the following shot starts a bit earlier in the Theatrical Version.
0,5 Sec (in der Extended Version)
Shootout in the lighthouse
After the girl with the Uzi has run for cover a short and aggressive exchange follows between her and the other two girls that are lying behind a cover also. - Here the shot of the two other girls is a bit shorter at one point: the other girl screams something as well.
As the girl with the glasses is shot on the table CGI blood has been edited in in the Extended - the Theatrical Version lets her die without much bloodshed while in the Extended three gigantic fountains of blood shoot out of her.
No time difference
After Nanahara has looked down on the dead girl from the top of the lighthouse and screamed "I don`t know what any of it means!" he sinks to the ground crying.
In the forest
After the listing of the dead a shot of a foggy forest follows. Only then we see Kawada carrying a shrubbery around. The scene is contained in the Theatrical Version but comes a little later and is also a bit shorter.
Here occurs Norikos dream in which she walks along a river with Kitano eating ice cream. The scene is in the Extended as well and is absolutely identical but in the alternative ending it is shown again, only this time it is longer and with actual dialogue. More about this at the end of the report.
No time difference
The Extended features another flashback of Nanahara: He sits in the basketball hall. - The scene is played backwards. - The ball bounces past him and into his friends arms. After he catches the ball he asks Nanahara to protect and watch over Noriko.
Now the Theatrical version features the shot of the foggy forest, but a bit shorter.
2 Sec shorter
In the warehouse
The girl watches the boy who has been looking for her for the whole movie from her hideout. In the Extended the close up of her face is much longer. The following shot of the injured boy getting up and the girl seeking cover is only contained in the Extended.
As the boy finds he girls bottle, different footage has been used in both versions:
In the Theatrical Version the girl lifts her head, then we see the boy looking in her direction without noticing her. She looks behind herself for a chance to retreat and runs to the stairs.
In the Extended Version she looks over her shoulder right away, then to the boy, then back again and runs towards the stairs.
After the boy has died in the water a flashback to the basketball game occurs in slow motion. The girl cheers at him.
Mitsuko from the Off: "Die". - In the Extended Version we first see Mitsuko appearing from behind a curtain and pointing the gun at the girl before she shoots. In the Theatrical Version she stands in front of her and shoots right away.
The Extended features a longer of the corpses after Mitsuko has shot the two because the listing of the new deceased follows right away. - In the Theatrical Version the listing appears two but later and over a scene that is in the Extended as well.
After Mitsuko has shot the girl we are treated to a flashback from Mitsukos childhood. She is on her way home from school and says goodbye to her friends. As she enters her house she finds her mother drunk and a strange man sitting beside her who stands up immediately. She asks what is wrong with her mother but the man gives no clear answer and suggests that they play together. Mitsuko screams "No!" and runs into her room.
Then we see the still drunk mother in a close up. She is holding a large bundle of money. Muttering to herself she says that Mitsuko must must be strong or she will end like herself.
The scene continues in Mitsukos room: The disgusting man has followed her and shows her a doll, saying that the dolls name is also Mitsuko. He asks and himself gives the answer that the very sweet. Then he rips the dolls head off. - After a cut we see the headless doll lying on the floor, now completely undressed and her clothes lying neatly beside her. The man tells Mitsuko that the doll is wearing no clothes now and that the real Mitsuko must undress as well. As he tries to touch her, saying "Lets take them all off", Mitsuko screams "No!" again and jostles the pedophile quite strongly. The man falls down the stairs and breaks his neck (in the Off).
A shattered family and a mother saying that she must be strong to not end like herself, accompanied with the fact that Mitsuko has already killed someone are important indicators for her ruthless behavior. A pity that this scene is not in the Theatrical Version.
As the scenery changes back to the warehouse Mitsuko is seen longer as well.
In the Theatrical Version Mitsuko approaches the two bodies a bit longer - another continuity cut.
After Mitsuko has hit Kiriyama with the sickle the shot of his grinning face is longer.
After Kiriyama has shot Mitsuko he picks up his machine gun and leaves the warehouse. Alternative footage has been used here:
In the Theatrical Version, the current list is shown while the Extended shows Mitsuko again after Kiriyama picks up his gun. The Theatrical Version runs a bit longer.
In the Extended Version the scene runs 15 Sec.
In the Theatrical Version the scene runs 11 Sec.
Difference: 4 Sec.
The hacker tries to infiltrate the BR headquarter
The scene is cut differently in both versions. What follows is not a detailed listing but a listing of the shots missing in either version.
After the first shot of the typing hacker the Extended features another flashback to the basketball game in slow motion.
After the third shot of the typing hacker the Extended features another flashback to the basketball game in slow motion.
In favor of the flashbacks however, a longer part of the building of the bombs has been removed from the Extended:
First we see another shot of the two boys sitting on the floor and building the bombs. Then we see the guidebook, balanced on a scale and vibrating due to the preparations. Cut to the various photographs, so the photographs are seen in the Theatrical version two times in the exact same shot. - Another shot of the hacker at his computer is missing in the Extended as well but only the last part of the shot where we see the laptop.
15 Sec (in the Extended Version)
During the panic among the soldiers due to the successful attack of the hacker the Extended is missing a shot of the flashing map of the island and the Danger Zones.
1 Sec (in the Extended Version)
After the Danger Zones have been deactivated Kitano turns off the power and says: "Reactivate".
For continuity another shot of the panicking soldiers is missing in the Extended.
Death of the hacker and his friends
The scene has been made more brutal with CGI blood on various occasions:
As the boy approaches Kiriyama and is shot by him blood spurting out of his back has been edited in.
No time difference
As the hackers second friend dies more CGI blood has been edited in in both shots.
No time difference
As the hacker wants to detonate the car bomb and Kiriyama shoots him in the back he flounders a bit more in the Extended. However, the scene isn't cut very elegantly here.
After the hacker has detonated the car bomb alternative footage has been used as Nanahara and the other come running down the hill:
In the Theatrical Version we see Kawada running on ahead and looking at the fire.
In the Extended we see Nanahara and Noriko running down the hill.
Running time of the Theatrical version: 11 Sec.
Running time of the Extended Version: 14 sec.
After Kawada has shot Kiriyama in the leg with his shotgun the Extended features another shot of Kawada sitting in the grass.
The "alternative ending" of the Extended Version is somewhat questionable.
After the flash "Run" three scenes of the movie are repeated. Apart from the third scene no new information can be drawn out of this. In addition, the three scenes are declared "Requiems" here.
"Requiem I - 9th Grade, Class B - Friends":
First the basketball game that has been cut into the movie on several occasions, but in one piece and real time.
"Requiem II - Shuya`s Dream"
Then follows Nanaharas dream again. (s. 1.22.18)
"Requiem III - Noriko and Kitano`s Dream"
Last but not least the dream sequence of Noriko walking along the river with Kitano. The scene is extended and recut and we also hear the two talking to each other. In the movie itself only music was heard.
Kitano remarks what other people would think if they saw them there together. Then he asks whether his classes are boring. Playfully, Noriko answers "Yes." to which Kitano evenly playfully replies what has gotten into her. He explains what it like for him to teach a class and that he taken a liking in it. Then he adds that this has changed now. he goes on to explain that teachers are not allowed to hit the pupils anymore, even if they attack him with a knife or he will be fired immediately. Noriko tells him that she had picked up the knife Kitano has been stabbed with. She wasn't too sure back then but now she keeps the knife in her desk drawer. Then she approaches Kitano and says that this should stay their secret to which Kitano replies: "What do you think a grown-up should say to a kid now?"
Now the dream fades away and the last question is shown in text again.
3 Min. 21 Sec.