Watched with Katy because of the Hunger Games connection. Kind of a not-so-great summer teen-action flick, but it’s still fun and interesting enough to justify rewatching. Also it’s got Beat Takeshi. Has the same-ish final line as teen deathmatch story The Long Walk (not counting all the weird special-edition dream sequences that follow the proper story, like a selection of extended/deleted scenes).

The Battle isn’t televised (even the gov’t overseers don’t have cameras, only microphones inside the kids’ explosive necklaces), and its very existence seems to come as a surprise to the kids, who don’t realize its seriousness until they’ve been in the island-arena for a while. Katy points out that this would make the Battle less of a deterrent than the Hunger Games – more of a personal vendetta by Kitano against his former students.

Mild, oft-injured Nanahara (Tatsuya Fujiwara) and his sweetie Noriko (Aki Maeda of Gamera 3) are the survivors/escapees who head to the inferior sequel. They’re helped by Kawada (Taro Yamamoto), winner of a previous Battle forced to fight again. Fortunately, all teens in movies circa the year 2000 knew how to hack into government systems, so one group concentrates on taking down the surveillance machines, and Kawada figures how to remove the necklaces. The other “transfer student” is friz-haired Kiriyama (Masanobu Ando, the tough one in Big Bang Love), who signed up for the fun of killing people, finally blinded in an explosion set by the hacker group and killed in a machine-gun battle with Kawada.

Among the others: Chigusa (Chiaki Kuriyama of Kill Bill), evil gal Mitsuko (Ko Shibasaki, star of One Missed Call), and Nanahara’s best friend Kuninobu who gets killed by exploding necklace during Kitano’s introductory speech.