Arrow Films in conjunction with Cult Labs have announced the high definition debut of Kinji Fukasaku’s controversial Battle Royale (バトル・ロワイアル) for November 29th. This three disc Blu-ray set will include the 114 minute theatrical version and 122 minute special version (this isn’t a director’s cut like many mistakenly claimed) with restored-by-Toei Company 1920x1080p transfers and new English subtitle translations. The set will be limited to ten thousand individually numbered units; originally five thousand before the studio saw the immense interest in this release. Cover art is still TBA.
The supplemental material, some of which will be exclusive to this set, is immense. The theatrical disc featurettes include The Making of Battle Royale: The Experience Of 42 High School Students and Conducting Battle Royale with the Warsaw National Philharmonic Orchestra. The special version disc featurettes include Shooting the Special Edition, The Correct Way to Make Battle Royale, and Tokyo International Film Festival Presentation. The third disc’s featurettes include Opening Day at Maru No Uchi Toei Movie Theatre, The Slaughter of 42 High School Students, Premiere Press Conference, The Correct Way to Fight in Battle Royale, Royale Rehearsals, and Masamichi Amano Conducts Battle Royale. Rounding out the video extras will be various trailers and ads for both features, a special effects comparison, and Fukasaku trailer reel.
The paper bonuses include a 32-page comic book, 36-page book with articles by Tom Mes and Jay McRoy as well as an excerpt from Takami’s novel, and 16-page booklet of concept art. Also 5″x7″ Battle Royale postcards and a fold-out reversible poster depicting original key art.
It remains to be revealed whether any of the special features will be presented in high def, but it has been announced this release will be region free for any Blu-ray player globally to play. The extras should also be playable on any BD player as well. This is excellent news considering Toei’s steadfast reluctance to license the film for any sort of official home video release in North America. Also many of the DVD releases, even those that are licensed abroad, feature honestly terrible picture quality even for the norms of the standard definition format.
So Battle Royale has been aching for quite some time for an overhaul. Hopefully Arrow and Toei’s restorations don’t disappoint. Amazon.uk has this limited edition available for pre-order for just under $25 USD shipped to the states. And remember, ordering from Amazon’s UK branch is no different from ordering from Amazon US, just use your domestic log-in information and your normal account should be accessed.
Another thing about the picture quality, Toei has announced a tenth anniversary Battle Royale 3D re-release in Japanese theaters and recently debuted the trailer below. Disregarding the goofy added 3D effects, the color and depth of even this low resolution YouTube video far surpasses any of the DVD presentations. Fingers crossed that the Blu-ray transfers have the same revelatory effect…