After the distinctly standard DVD release for the startling Japanese film "Battle Royale", Metro Tartan have come up with a special edition that's just achingly cool. More violence, more characterisation, an alternate ending, and a metal tin to enclose the beast are now within your grasp.
Picture The picture quality has improved since the last DVD with more detail on offer, but the end result is still a little soft.
Sound The dull mono track of the old DVD has been binned and veritably trampled on with a new 5.1 monster that thunders and rips through the speakers. The difference is incredible, and transforms the effect of the film in terms of claustrophobia and shock value as your ears get the audio kicking of a lifetime.
Making of "Battle Royale" This 50-minute documentary is really a showcase for 70-year old director Kinji Fukasaku as he's easily the centre of attention. Energetic and excitable, he soon strikes fear into the kids when they're not looking scared enough. "Do it again, that was no good - you're supposed to be frightened, act like it!" he barks, and suddenly the results are there to see.
Nearly all the footage is taken on-set during the shoot and includes Fukasaku demonstrating to two young girls how they should be crying - by standing over them with a bullhorn and making sobbing noises. As 'making of' features on DVDs go, this is easily the weirdest but great fun too.
Press Conference Fukasaku asks himself the question the press would like answered but aren't going to put to him: why is he doing this at his age? You only live once is his response and he goes on to chat a little about his experiences in World War II and how that's translated into the film.
Instructional Video: Birthday Version Fukasaku celebrated his 70th birthday on-set and was clearly adored by everyone connected with the film. This is a birthday themed, "Battle Royale"-style guide to making a film.
Audition and Rehearsal Footage Even the rehearsals are somewhat crazy, spurred on by Fukasaku who's in a playful mood.
Special Effects Comparison Ever wanted to see the layers that go into creating an effective shot of a head being blown off? Find out here.
Tokyo Film Festival 2000 Footage from the premiére screening of the film for which advance tickets sold out immediately, which is unheard of in Japan. Fukasaku is on hand to introduce the feature and jokes that the rating doesn't reflect the quality of the movie.
Documentary Hardly a documentary, this flashy and busy 12-minute featurette looks nice but is a little pointless. There's more footage of Fukasaku ramping up the enthusiasm of his cast.
Basketball Scene Rehearsals The kids are supposed to be screaming but Fukasaku isn't impressed. He just shouts back at them through his bullhorn to get them to really scream.
Behind the Scenes This is little more than another 10 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage, although it's all watchable entertainment thanks to Fukasaku.
Filming On Set Yet more behind-the-scenes footage but this is literally more explosive stuff, with the kids diving for cover. Not satisfied with their wounds, Fukasaku comes out from behind the camera and paints more blood on them.
Additional Extra Features A trailer, two TV spots, a director's statement, and cast and crew filmographies.
Ratio: 1.85:1 (anamorphic)
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Audio Tracks: Japanese
Menus: Animated, with mayhem.
Special Features Subtitles: All of the special features come with subtitles.
This DVD was reviewed on a JVC XV-S57 DVD player.