From the Vidéothèque Vault: Burst City

Vidéothèque manager, Chris Damen, discovers Sogo Ishii’s Burst City.

Recently, I was opening up the mailers that come in from our customers who rent via mail. A lot of DVDs tend to blend in because of the mechanical process of opening, separating, and repeat. However, the cover of one with two Japanese punk rockers caught my eye: Sogo Ishii’s Burst City.

As soon I as I saw the cover I looked up the film’s description on our website: “A mob of punks who converge to protest the erection of a nuclear power plant on their home turf.” That sounded awesome. And it was released in 1982!

That night my girlfriend and I watched the film in complete fascinating confusion. Burst City plays more like a music video than a standard narrative. The hyper-kinetic editing must have blown Japanese audiences minds in ’82. I hate being on my phone while watching a film, but I just had to read up on Burst City while I was watching it.

I’m no expert on Japanese cinema. However, not only do I think Burst City is an important film, but I think it is a missing link in modern Japanese history. Because when you think of the history of Japanese cinema the usual suspects pop up: Akira Kurosawa, Yasujirō Ozu, Kenji Mizoguchi, Keyser Söze, etc. And when you think of 21st-century Japanese pop culture cinema, it’s just Takashi Miike. But in order to get from Kurosawa to Miike, you need Sogo Ishii’s Burst City.


Author: Chris Damen has been the Vidéothèque manager for five years now and in the rentals department for eleven years. When he’s not watching films, you can catch him all throughout the city performing stand-up comedy. Follow him at @ChrisDamen79.

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