The Onion A.V. Club looks at Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale:
As high concepts go, Battle Royale hits the sweet spot: It’s Lord Of The Flies meets The Most Dangerous Game meets perhaps the cruelest year of teenage life, which would have a Darwinian quality even without the aid of axes and semi-automatics. Add to that ultra-violence, Japanese schoolgirls, and Takeshi Kitano, add water and stir, and voila, you have the ingredients for an instant cult classic…
…Battle Royale is many things at once: A grand metaphor for the cruel cliques and hierarchies that govern teenage life; a statement about the chasm between the older and younger generations; a rebellious salvo against fascism and government control; and a stinging, no-holds-barred action film that’s like manga come to life. Watching 15-year-olds savagely murder other 15-year-olds sounds irredeemably perverse as entertainment, like The Running Man for kidz. But because the whole situation is so thoroughly couched in metaphor — and because Fukasaku aligns himself so strongly with the youth — the film remains surprisingly palatable, even fun, because there are only abstract ideas connecting what happens in the film to reality. Elephant this ain’t.
I don’t know if I’d use the term “fun” to describe Battle Royale, but otherwise, I agree completely. My own review can be found here.