The plot, as very, very loose as it is to Gakuryû Ishii’s (aka Sogo Ishii) Burst City goes kinda/sorta as follows: In a dystopian Japan, gangs of punk rockers put on large concerts (conveyed via music video style vignettes), fight each other for stage time, and form their own dominant, completely out-of-control culture. This of course goes over like a fart in church to the local gangsters who plan on making the city, or more properly the land it sits on, their own. Rioting, rock, racing, and hard fucking (it’s not an “R” word, but it’s in there) ensue!
Oh, and before I forget there are also a draconian police force (the Battle Police), a work force comprised of violent heavily armored Road Warrior-style bastards (some mutated, all insane), and plenty of piss n’ puke!
Unconcerned with traditional narrative structure, Ishii throws as much light, sound, movement and pure adrenaline on screen as humanly possible… and when the film does quiet down for a moment it feels unnatural and uncomfortable, but those moments are few and far between!
I can’t even fathom what a revelation this picture had to have been (for the right kinda folks ‘natch) when it played in 1982 (hell, I know if I had seen this as a teen it would have been on constant rotation), but it’s influence is evident in film’s such as Shinya Tsukamoto’s 1989 cyberpunk masterpiece Tetsuo: The Iron Man and Tetsuro Takeuchi’s delirious 1999 Guitar Wolf vehicle Wild Zero that’s for flip fuckin’ sure!
As for how this mad masterpiece came to be, this Blu-ray from Arrow Video (along with MVD Entertainment) has plenty of answers courtesy of it’s bonus content! First up comes an info-packed audio commentary courtesy of Japanese film expert Tom Mes, followed by interviews with Ishii and scholar/independent filmmaker Yoshiharu Tezuka (who discuses both Burst City, on which he served as lighting director, and the jishu eiga filmmaking movement).
Also included are the film’s theatrical trailer, an image gallery, a reversible sleeve featuring new artwork from Chris Malbon, and a collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film from filmmaker/author Mark Player.
Noisy, disjointed, and chaotic, Burst City is the spirit of punk music distilled down to it’s base components and put back together as a sci-fi parable of youth gone totally fuckin’ wild!