The shockingly graphic Battle Royale (2000) may not be as well known as some of the films on this list, but the movie has gone on to become a cult classic and is beloved by global audiences. What makes Battle Royale stand out from other Western films that have teenagers killing each other in them is how willing it is to show violence. While other young adult Lord of the Flies-esque movies sanitize their violence, Battle Royale goes all out to create a faithful adaptation of Koushun Takami’s novel of the same name.
With a film as narrow in scope as Battle Royale, it’s hard to pick out movies that are exactly like it. Does the violence make a movie like it? Is it the teen characters? Or maybe it’s the crushing bleakness of being trapped in a violent situation for someone else’s entertainment? In this list of movies that are like Battle Royale, we lean in on the claustrophobic terror of being trapped in a deadly scenario that you’re not likely to escape, so if that’s what you loved about Battle Royale, stick around.
1. The Hunger Games (2012)
The 2012 film The Hunger Games is an adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ book trilogy about a young woman who becomes part of a rebellion against a totalitarian government. Katniss Everdeen lives in abject poverty and hunts game to keep her family alive after her father dies. Katniss grows to hate her mother for being despondent and not taking care of them, but she cherishes her younger sister Primrose and would do anything for her – even take her place at the Hunger Games, a battle to the death between teenagers gathered from the 12 Districts of Panem.
When Katniss arrives in Panem, she’s forced to play celeb in the most sick and twisted reality TV series you can imagine. Unlike many of the young adult dystopian books and movie adaptations that became popular after it, The Hunger Games actually delivers on its promise of serving as a commentary on the vapidness of Hollywood culture, going so far as to use its love story to poke fun at the forced pairings we often see on TV.
2. Battle Royale II: Requiem (2003)
What better film to watch to get your next Battle Royale film than the sequel? Sure, Battle Royale II: Requiem (2003) doesn’t bring anything new in terms of the themes the film deals with, but it gives us a more long-term perspective of the experiment that took place in Battle Royale.
Set three years in the future, Battle Royale II follows a new group of students who are captured by the Japanese government and sent off to fight the Wild Seven, a group of rebels that was formed by survivors of the original Battle Royale. The kids have good reason to agree, as many of them were orphaned because of terrorist attacks initiated by Wild Seven.
3. Azumi (2003)
Azumi (2003) is a bit of an odd pick for this list, as Battle Royale and films like it typically have a dystopian element to them. Instead of being contemporary or set in the future, Azumi is about a young girl named, well, Azumi who is trained to become an assassin. Her master chose her after seeing her lack of emotional reaction to her own mother’s death. Now a student under the master assassin’s tutelage, Azumi is trained alongside several other students. Naturally, the group develops bonds of friendship with each other.
Their emotional attachments to each other backfire when their master asks them to pair up for a mission. The students choose their closest friends to go on the mission with but are later told that they must first kill their own partner.
4. The Hunt (2020)
The Hunt (2020) breaks away from the action genre that Battle Royale is squarely in. Instead, it’s a horror thriller about a group of 11 people who are abducted and left in a forest. Fortunately, they’re not entirely defenseless, as whoever left them there also gave them a crate of weapons. The weapons help them fend off an unseen attacker, but what they don’t know is that they’ve been trapped there to serve as entertainment for the wealthy.
5. Final Girl (2015)
Another horror film in the same vein as Battle Royale, Final Girl (2015), is about a young woman who accepts an invitation to ‘hang out’ with a group of young men in the woods. She plays the role of frightened victim and tries to escape them, but what the men don’t know is that she has been looking for them.
6. The Menu (2022)
It takes a long time for The Menu (2022) to get to its Battle Royale-like elements, but the long wait just makes the situation even more tense. The rich and stuck-up diners at the restaurant are clearly in no shape or state of mind to be fighting for their lives against the people who were serving them just hours before. Trapped on an island with people who want to kill them, the diners now have to figure out how they can call for help.
7. Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022)
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (2022) may seem like an unlikely choice for films that are similar to Battle Royale, but the movie does share a lot of elements with the Japanese film. For one, Glass Onion takes place in an isolated location. Things start out relatively lighthearted, even with the drama between the characters, but quickly go south when it becomes clear that there’s a killer in their midst.
8. Nerve (2016)
Nerve (2019)’s trap isn’t a location but a situation. Vee, a high school student, signs up to be a player on Nerve, a secretive game where viewers pay contestants to complete increasingly dangerous dares. The dares start out fun and stupid, the kind of dares you’d hear in a group of drunk friends, but later become challenges that could get the contestants killed. Things take a turn for the worse when some of the contestants decide they want out.