When I first heard about “The Hunger Games” I decided not to watch it. A friend of mine told me about “this awesome movie in which children kill each other in order to win a competition” and I immediately thought about “Battle Royale”. It turned out that I was wrong. The awesome movie she spoke about was called “The Hunger Games”.
Hollywood has its long tradition of remaking Asian films and in particular, Asian horror movies. “The Ring”, “The Grudge” and “Dark Water”, to enumerate only a few, they all originally come from Asia. I disagree with those who claim that the Oriental version is always the better one. Asian cinema is realistic and close to life, while American movies resemble a fairy tale. Some may prefer the former, others may enjoy the latter. There’s no accounting for taste.
The fact remains, however, that Americans give us an opportunity to experience the extreme ideas implemented in Asian movies in a more viewer-friendly form. The case of “The Hunger Games”, however, is more complex. It is not simply a new version of an Asian movie. It dwells upon the same idea as “Battle Royale” and yet any connection between the two is denied. This was precisely what caused my initial inhibition towards the movie.
Then, however, I decided to watch it and then reconsider the issue of the alleged plagiarism. I was disappointed when I had to admit that my initial view was an exaggeration. Even though the main idea remains the same, it is used for different purposes. I don’t think that anyone would accuse computer games such as “Mortal Combat” of stealing the intellectual property of Romans, the creators of gladiator fights.
The idea of fatal combats is definitely not a new one but it still sells well. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with reusing it for different purposes. “Battle Royale” may make some people reflect on human condition but it is not its main task. First and foremost, this movie is supposed to entertain the audience. The characters are juicy, there are many unexpected twists and the ending comes as a surprise – briefly, it is a kind of movie you want to watch after a long and tiresome week. Some may feel insecure having seen streams of disturbingly realistic blood but hey, this is what Asian scary movies are about.
Now, “The Hunger Games” is also meant to entertain but as in every truly American movie the educational value is indispensable. Less blood, more love seems to be the rule. Yes, there is still a lot of killing and action but the focus is the reflection on human condition. Why did people allow such a society to exist? What happened to them/us? And similar tear jerking reflections are so impudent that they might have been written on the screen. Along with the sentence: Goodness is undefeatable … This cheap moralizing does not undermine the entertaining value of the movie.
Nevertheless, I find it extremely annoying. I also have and have always had a problem with the protagonist being a hero. How are you supposed to truly worry about the main character if you know that the sequel is yet to come? James Bond will never die neither will Harry Potter. Of course, you can still enjoy the movie but I believe it would be far more absorbing if the protagonist’s survival was uncertain.
All in all, “The Hunger Games” is an okay movie. Although I do not think it is a case of plagiarism, I think I would have enjoyed it much more if I had not seen “Battle Royale” first as part of its impact is the “novelty” of the cruel idea. I think it is beneficial to watch both movies to see how differently the same idea was used by two cultures.