Battle Royale: Limited Edition 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray review

Battle Royale: Limited Edition 4K UHD, Arrow Video, Ultra HD Blu-ray & Region B BD, £80

Movie: Director Kinji Fukasaku's controversial near-future shocker Battle Royale follows a class of 42 Japanese high school kids taken to a remote island, strapped into exploding necklaces, and forced to fight each other 
to the death as part of a government scheme to tackle the rising tide of juvenile delinquency. Even after 21 years and numerous inferior imitators (yes, we’re looking at you, Hunger Games), Battle Royale remains a powerful and disturbing piece of 
cinema that must be seen to be believed.
Movie rating: 4/5

Picture: Battle Royale has been restored at 4K by Arrow using the original 35mm camera negative of its Theatrical version, and a 35mm dupe negative of the Director’s Cut. HDR10/Dolby Vision grading then brings it bang up-to-date.

Bear in mind, though, that it was never a particularly attractive film. Drab and murky, the big issue has always been the near total lack of genuine blacks within the film’s palette. Almost every area of darkness is milky or carries a blue tint, and given that so much of the action occurs at night (or during what often appears to be graded day-for-night shooting), that’s a big chunk of the story. As much as the 4K restoration brings extra clarity and sharpness to the visuals, it can’t reveal shadow detail that has never been present.

That said, Arrow’s 1.85:1 4K presentations are 
still by far the best either version has ever looked. Close-ups and brightly lit scenes reveal more precise details than earlier Blu-rays managed, and even the muted colour palette has a little more life to it.
Picture rating: 3.5/5

Audio: Both cuts have a choice of Japanese-language DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 stereo soundtracks. Given the subject matter it’s no surprise the 5.1 mixes are nicely aggressive, with some potent LFE and localised surround effects. 
The real highlight, however, is the gorgeous rendering of composer Masamichi Amano’s orchestral score.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: The Theatrical and Director’s Cut versions 
of Battle Royale are accompanied by archival extras carried across from Arrow’s original 2010 BD release. The former is also joined by a chat track from Japanese cinema specialists Tom Mes and Jasper Sharp, and a 42-minute documentary exploring the film’s impact and legacy. Two additional Blu-rays then host the ‘Requiem’ and ‘Revenge’ edits of Battle Royale II, the first UK hi-def disc releases for the (disappointing) 2003 sequel. These, too, are blessed with numerous interviews and other archival goodies. Exclusive to this limited edition are the 23-track Battle Royale soundtrack CD; a 52-page book of essays; a 120-page monograph on director Kinji Fukasaku by Tom Mes; a set of Trump cards; and a poster.
Extras rating: 5/5


We say: Still not a lush-looking movie, but this is a well-stocked release for Fukasaku's cult classic.

Battle Royale: Limited Edition 4K UHD, Arrow Video, Ultra HD Blu-ray & Region B BD, £80