Battle Royale

Taboo to mainstream.

What a long, strange trip for this tale of Japanese schoolkids forced to fight to the death on a far-flung island.

The final film from a 40-year career for director Kinji Fukasaku, it predates The Hunger Games novels by almost a decade, and originally could only be seen on often-fuzzy bootleg tapes.

Nowadays, I can just fire up my Roku and find this ripe slice of the ol’ ultraviolence on any of a hundred streaming channels.

Either way, it was, and is, a punch to the gut in a way no PG-13 blockbuster ripoff/homage can ever be.