Hollywood has taken inspiration from Asian cinema from as early as 1960. The Magnificent Seven was an adaptation of Japanese film Seven Samurai and more recently The Departed won an Oscar for Best Film for basically just translating Infernal Affairs from Cantonese into English.
While The Hunger Games is not a word-for-word translation of an Asian film, it does bear an uncanny resemblance to Quentin Tarantino's favourite film (since 1992, the year in which his first film Reservoir Dogs came out) Battle Royale, which was also adapted from a book. This has not escaped fans of either film, who have engaged in their own battle of words on the internet.
Battle Royale is like the reality TV show Survivor, but contestants aren't voted off the island, they're killed. The Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins told the New York Times she "had never heard of [Battle Royale] until [her] book was turned in", but had the idea while watching reality TV and news footage of the Iraq War. Battle Royale wasn't distributed in America and a Hollywood remake of a film about Asian students killing each other didn't seem such a good idea after the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, so maybe Collins did write The Hunger Games in blissful ignorance.
I have an unhealthy obsession with The Hunger Games trilogy, I read each book in under 24 hours, but I also spotted the similarities. So is it a remake or a rip-off and does it even matter?
The Hunger Games is set in a dystopian future, where every year a totalitarian government randomly chooses a boy and girl from each of Panem's (North America) 12 districts to fight to the death in an arena, as the whole of Panem watches on TV.
Battle Royale is set in a dystopian future, where every year a totalitarian government randomly chooses a class of 21 male and 21 female high school students to fight to the death on an island, as the whole of the Republic of Greater East Asia watches on TV.
Whether Collins heard of Battle Royale or not, The Hunger Games is a rip-off, but didn't the Romans do it first thousands of years ago in the coliseum?
Besides the basic premise, the films are separate entities. Battle Royale author Koushun Takami had the original idea, but Collins took that idea and created an entire world, although the games are a central part of it. Battle Royale is a Japanese horror film about the inhumanity of its villains, whereas The Hunger Games is a Hollywood blockbuster about the humanity of its heroes.
Having said all that, I'm with Tarantino on this one - The Hunger Games is a guilty pleasure, but Battle Royale is one of my favourite films and books (since 1992).
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