Stop watching ‘The Hunger Games’, start watching ‘Battle Royale’

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One of the most popular movies to date has been ‘The Hunger Games’, but did you know that the idea has been done before and it is much better too? With the release of ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’, the second film in the franchise, we’re looking at why you should start watching the better and brutal ‘Battle Royale’ instead.

It’s argued that ‘The Hunger Games’ (THG) is a completely different film to ‘Battle Royale’ (BR), which is true, but the basis of each film is too similar. If we look at the origins of each film and also their basic plot lines, then we can see that ‘The Hunger Games’ is not as original as fans claim.

In 1996, Koushun Takami completed his novel entitled, Battle Royale, even though it wasn’t until 1999, that it was actually published. The controversial horror-thriller novel sold so many copies that a year later it was adapted as a manga series and also for the big screen.

Now let’s travel forward to 2008, which is when Suzanne Collins published The Hunger Games. The science fiction novel received highly acclaimed reviews, but many pointed out the similarities between the two. In 2012, the screen adaptation was completed, and the film was released.

Maybe I should be classed as a bit of an ‘originals snob’, but for me, the original of everything is always the dominator. There has never been any remakes that I’ve enjoyed as much as the original (except for Maniac – incredible remake), because in my eyes you just cannot beat that initial idea.

‘Battle Royale’, directed by Kinji Fukasaku, focuses on high-school student Shuya Nanahara, living in a chaotic and corrupt Japan, where the Government force him and fellow students to compete in a fight to the death in order to win the game. ‘The Hunger Games’, directed by Gary Ross, revolves around 16 year old Katniss Everdeen; living a post apocalyptic world, she and 23 others aged 12-18 must compete in the annual event of fighting until the death.

For me, I find it all too coincidental that one of the biggest teenage fantasy book and film – after the horrendous Twilight – is the exact basis of an already existing novel and film. Although one of the biggest blockbusters in Japan, ‘Battle Royale’, was never as well publicised in the UK.

So, here we come to the problem; because ‘The Hunger Games’ is aimed at the One Direction-loving teenage population, it’s never going to be easy to prove that ‘Battle Royale’ is where the games are really at.

There are many other copy-cat scenarios within THG; Katniss manages to save Peeta, who, surprise surprise, is in love with her, and makes sure they both survive. In BR, Shuya protects Noriko, as his friend is in love with her, but they’re not seen as heroes, they’re seen as fugative murderers.

The consistent themes run throughout both, but there’s one thing THG is lacking: reality and gore. BR includes a range of weapons from deadly to useless, making the murder scenes brutal, distressing and believable. Unfortunately, THG contains next to no blood, which is strange for a film about killing one another.

If you’re looking for a children’s version of a clever and gruesome film, then ‘The Hunger Games’ is perfect for the family. You’d think it’s imposibble but Collins managed to turn a sick and twisted scenario into something glamorous and almost desirable. Whereas Takami portrayed the inhumane situation as just that – something to frighten, rather than entertain.

For me, ‘Battle Royale’ is the supreme ruler of teen vs teen fight to the death, and I will never step foot near the below par ‘The Hunger Games’. I like originality in novels and films, and I certainly don’t like rip-off ideas. If you can’t think of your own, maybe it’s best to stick to the day job.

With that said, ‘The Hunger Games’ is still ravaged by fans, but maybe fans should say thank you to the film that opened up the idea for a teen sensation. Go and watch ‘Battle Royale’, and then come and tell me that ‘The Hunger Games’ is still better. I know you won’t.

*Images courtesy of Laura Loveday/Scholastic Inc.

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