Burst City (1982)
Influential Japanese cult director Sogo Ishii's Burst City is supercharged cinema anarchism at its most visually hyperkinetic and explosively chaotic. Rapid-fire editing, frenetic camerawork, blistering punk rock music, with the aesthetic fuck-you attitude to match - Burst City is the art of rebellion, a torch to tradition as a means of setting fire to the imagination and blazing new filmic pursuits
.Set in the future, with Tokyo in an utter state of dystopia, a nuclear power plant, under construction, serves as the catalyst for an escalation of protests led by a pair of dueling punk bands and their violence-prone devotees. When yakuza become involved and a gang of angry construction workers, aided by a couple of mutant bikers gussied up in Mad Max metal-wear, retaliate against their employers, riots ensue, with punk rock music leading the cacophonous charge.Released in 1982 by a then young up-and-coming Sogo Ishii, Burst City was released by Toei studios, and unleashed upon a largely unsuspecting public, leaving its mark on Japanese cinema forever, and ultimately influencing many of today's most cutting-edge Japanese filmmakers - Takashi Miike and Shinya "The Ironman" Tsukamoto among them. Burst City's episodic narrative is very loose, and to be honest there isn't much to it. Regardless, when viewing the film it becomes abundantly clear that traditional storytelling was not one of Ishii's pursuits with Burst City. Instead we get a complex sensorial experience that is equally hypnotic and overwhelming, magnetic and repelling. Much of the film has a rhythmic visual musicality that shifts and changes tempo rapidly as scenes pass and the film zigs and zags ahead towards its discordant ending. It's an approach that will not appeal to all viewers, but those open to movies that experiment and attempt to expand the medium as an art form, and explore the infinite possibilities of cinema, will find a lot to appreciate with Burst City.
The film's finale is a full-on melee in which a vast multitude engage in frenzied protest. Fueled by the fury of punk music erupting from two stages, its the violent surge the film has been escalating towards and an explosive final chord to a film that is, above all else, a blood-smeared, fist-flying punk rock manifesto.Discotek's brand new DVD release of Burst City presents this classic film in anamorphic widescreen, and the image quality is exceptional throughout. The disc features the Japanese audio track in Dolby Digital 2.0 with optional English subs. Extras include the theatrical trailer for Burst City, in addition to other Discotek releases, a rare black and white stills gallery, informative text on the history of Burst City and the Japanese punk bands involved, soundtrack lyrics, an insightful insert written by Tom Mes, and a text essay about the See Saw label and rock festival that helped usher in many of Japan's most prominent punk bands (which are also featured in Burst City). While not heavy on the extras, a commentary would have been welcome, Discotek has done a great job bringing Burst City to DVD, allowing those anxious to see this rare film the opportunity to do so with a really great-looking release.
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