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Battle Royale + Lesson of the Evil

I'm quite a fan of Japanese cinema, even though there aren't many Japanese films being widely distributed over here due to overly practical reasons and such which seem like overly convenient excuses not to do anything in my opinion. I'm sure a lot of enthusiasts have to search miles just for one film, or simply keep their fingers crossed that their favourite films would be given a spot at some film festival. In any case, there needs to be more loosening up concerning films before anybody wilts from deprivation. Today's article will recollect some of the Japanese films that I've had the privilege to watch. Just a little note here - as the films are controversial in nature, kindly refrain from reading further if such content upsets you. For those who have no problems dealing with such, shall we proceed?

I'm sure that a considerable handful will be familiar with the late Fukasaku Kinji's 'Battle Royale', starring Fujiwara Tatsuya, Maeda Aki, Shibasaki Kou, Kuriyama Chiaki and Kitano Takeshi. The film was initially banned and later mercilessly scissored by the authorities before it was finally given the theatrical nod. While I can understand the controversies and such surrounding 'Battle Royale', doing the film injustice is another thing altogether. I had wanted to watch the film but unfortunately I was too young back then. Years later when I did have the opportunity to do so, I was impressed by the strong performances from the ensemble. Many of the actors were still in their teens and pretty new to the scene at that time, yet under the excellent direction of Mr. Fukasaku, they were able to pull off such difficult and intense roles. The violence was undoubtedly bloody, but such depictions had been necessary to support the uncontrollable situations faced by the various characters.

A similarly controversial film is 'Lesson of the Evil' (Aku no Kyouten) directed by Miike Takashi, who is internationally well-known for his works including 'Audition' and 'Ichi the Killer'. 'Lesson of the Evil' stars Itou Hideaki of 'Umizaru' fame. In the film, the tables were turned as Itou Hideaki played a psychopath working as an English teacher in a local high school. His character Hasumi Seiji won the hearts of many students with his charming personality. However, deep down Hasumi was unable to feel the slightest emotion for anybody. His perversions began in his teens, yet his high intelligence would always help him escape the consequences of his evil deeds. Hasumi's method of dealing with the school's various problems was murder. The most difficult scenes to watch had to be the night before the school's cultural festival when Hasumi trapped all the students (and a couple of teachers) before unleashing a bloody massacre which lasted merely minutes.

Coincidentally, 'Battle Royale' and 'Lesson of the Evil' were both adapted from bestselling novels. 'Battle Royale' was written by Takami Koushun in 1996 but it took three years for the novel to see the light of day. The story had entered the 1997 Japanese Horror Novel Grand Prix but was eliminated during the final round due to the panel's largely negative reviews. 'Battle Royale' went on to sell more than a million copies. As for 'Lesson of the Evil', the book was written by Kishi Yuusuke who was nominated for multiple awards and eventually won the 1st Yamada Fuutarou Award in 2010 for it. I've yet to read both novels because they are a little too long - 'Battle Royale' is 666 pages long and 'Lesson of the Evil' is 856 pages long. Okay, they are very long indeed.

Well, what would cinema become without controversies? While many critics would say that such films are trash, there are others like myself who would easily embrace these additions to our cinematic experiences. Like it or not, the films are here to stay.

Eccentrically Yours.

Written by J.Fluffysheep ♪

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