Controversial horror/action film set in what appears to be Japan in the near future plagued by crime and juvenile delinquency. As a result, the BR Act has been passed, allowing for a random group of Year 9 students to be chosen for a 'game' of death. They are taken to a remote island and a disgruntled former teacher (director/actor Takeshi Kitano, AKA Beat Takeshi) forces them to kill each other off until one is left standing. Assorted weapons are handed out, some more useful than others.
That's basically all the plot, and one of the film's weaknesses is that this plot is somewhat undercooked. The backstory is hazy and choppy at best, and we never really fully understand what makes Kitano in particular tick. And, if the very idea of 14 year olds killing each other off doesn't offend you, the extreme violence with which they carry out on one another just might cross the line for you. Be warned, this is pretty brutal stuff, even if the 'Kill Bill' films are probably just as violent. These are kids doing most of the killing and dying, after all (perhaps the film is more 'horrifying' than 'horror', I don't know).
With all this said, I have to confess to being a bit of a sick puppy myself at times and I dug this film, warts and all. Above all else, it never for a second bored me. I know there are real-life school shootings and all, but so long as you accept the film as just a 'movie' and you are somewhat level-headed, you aren't likely to be too traumatised by it. There is so much graphic violence that like the 'Kill Bill' films it is almost cartoonish, and less affecting. True, it's shocking to see kids doing all this (and shocking to see them dying just as we are getting to know them), but when the movie is over, you can go back to reality somewhat unaffected. This isn't 'Last House on the Left' (It's better).
Despite some of the heavy goings on, the film is also very funny at times. An instructional video for the contestants with a super-perky girl is an absolute laugh riot. Kitano in a perhaps underdeveloped role, is wonderfully droll. Whether he's offering 'helpful' comments to the contestants, or his hilariously bizarre final scene which is one of the most surreal and funny moments I've seen in quite a while, he's great to have around. I just wish his motivations were made more clear.
This film demands you sit up and take notice of it. If you are into controversial films that are perhaps in bad taste, it might be the film for you. Funny, violent, visually interesting. If this isn't your thing, go watch 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' instead.