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Movie review: Burst City April 19, 2008

Posted by ashiah in old.
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Whenever you mention the name Sogo Ishii it’s a cardinal rule to also mention Tsukamoto and Miike – for obvious reasons anyway. Many of the trademark techniques that are praised of Tsukamoto and Miike was influenced by Ishii and Burst City is usually the example that is thrown around. Made in 1982 (and only recently getting a proper DVD release), it has never quite received its fair share of praise.

Burst City worked to truly capture the essence of the early ’80s Japanese punk movement. Every inch of the film is made in a way to completely disregard conventional film rules and capture pure anarchy through film. There is no clear storyline or characters and everything is done through the lens of complete chaos.


In the future, aluminum will be our new friend.

Although the storyline, if you can even call it that, is not particularly important, the film takes place in a dilapidated Mad Max-esque wasteland where bike gangs, yakuza bosses and punk kids swarm the area. To protest against the building of a nuclear power plant, a few punk bands show up and put on a concert. All of this is somehow connected to a bike gang, the yakuza, and a group of disgruntled construction workers who are building the plant. All the groups collide and, by the time the police show up, everything erupts into complete chaos.

Of course, there are the usual critiques – it’s too disjointed, mildly unwatchable and lacks a solid storyline. This was my first impression as well, but all of these are somewhat irrelevant. Burst City succeeds by concentrating on being chaotic first and a film second. What makes Burst City endearing is its way of staying true to its punk roots. This is a film about punk music and everything else in the film are mere visuals. You have to admire its guts and give praise to where praise is due.

DVD Features

There’s a few interesting film notes that discuss the nature of the film, the bands that were shown in the film and some general information about the history of Japanese punk music. Good stuff.

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