It’s recently come to my attention that there are quite a few folk out there who are fans of or have seen the movie ‘Battle Royal’ and have recently come to the conclusion that ‘The Hunger Games’ is a version or adaptation of ‘Battle Royale’. Some individuals have even gone so far as to say such things as, and I quote: “So what’s up with this hunger games craze? I don’t see what it can possibly give me that “battle royale” “the lethal lottery” and “running man haven’t already.” Well, while ‘Battle Royale’ and the ‘Running Man’ are good movies with similarities even to ‘The Hunger Games’, they are in no way the same and as thus in no way offer the exact same things. And believe me, I’m the first to yell out “hasn’t this been done before?”
I’ve decided to take it upon myself to enlighten or rather… impress upon those who think as such, just how wrong they are. So, here’s the…nitty gritty if you will.
The Running Man– The story’s protagonist, Ben Richards, is a citizen of Co-Op City, a suburb of the fictional Harding, which is located somewhere in the Midwest, west of Detroit (not to be confused with the real Co-Op City) in the year 2025. The world’s economy is in a shambles and America has become a totalitarian dystopia. Richards is unable to find work, having been blacklisted from his trade, and needs money to get medicine for his gravely ill daughter Cathy. His wife Sheila has resorted to prostitution to bring in money for the family. In desperation, Richards turns to the Games Network, a government-operated television station that runs violent game-shows. After rigorous physical and mental testing, Richards is selected to appear on The Running Man, the Games Network’s most popular, lucrative, and dangerous program. Richards meets with Network producer Dan Killian and Running Man host Bobby Thompson. The men proceed to discuss Richards’ contract for appearing on the show, as well as the challenges he is expected to face when the game starts.
Battle Royale– Shuya Nanahara is a Japanese middle school student trying to cope with life after his father’s suicide by hanging. Meanwhile, Noriko Nakagawa, finds her class, 3-B, empty with only her teacher Kitano present in the classroom. Kitano leaves but is attacked by student Yoshitoki Kuninobu with a knife. Kitano later resigns after recovering from his wound. One year later, class 3-B makes a field trip after completing their compulsory studies; however, the class is gassed and summoned to a “briefing room” on a remote island after being gassed, wearing electronic collars. Kitano explains that the class has been chosen to participate in this year’s Battle Royale as a result of the BR Act, which passed after 800,000 students walked out of school. The orientation video has the class forced to kill each other for three days until only one student remains.
The Hunger Games– The Hunger Games takes place after the destruction of North America by some unknown apocalyptic event, in a nation known as Panem. Panem consists of a wealthy Capitol and twelve surrounding, poorer districts. District 12, where the book begins, is located in the coal-rich region that was formerly Appalachia. As punishment for a previous rebellion against the Capitol in which a 13th district was destroyed, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are selected by annual lottery to participate in the Hunger Games, an event in which the participants (or “tributes”) must fight in an outdoor arena controlled by the Capitol, until only one remains.
There you can see that all three films, while having a vaguely similar theme of people set in a game of life and death, they are in no way the same movie. Each film offers up something completely different. In ‘The Running Man’, the main character places himself in that situation rather than face jail time. In ‘Battle Royale’ none of the combatants has a choice in fighting. And in ‘The Hunger Games’, everyone who’s not a citizen of the capital has to enter their names in a lottery of sorts in order to receive rations for their families. Of course the more times your name’s entered, the more likely you are to be chosen as “tribute” of your district.
If you’ve managed to see past vague similarities and other folks opinions of the film or book, then by all means, do check out the film. Give it a chance. If nothing else, the story (the theatrical version) was quite well done. The acting was superb, and the effects were quite nice. Not over the top and not underwhelming, just nice.