Burst City (1982)
Bakuretsu Toshi (a.k.a. Burst City) - Directed by Sōgo Ishii
First off, we'd like to thank Ethan over at An American Werewolf in Tokyo for bringing this film to our attention through his series of posts documenting outstanding Japanese rock cinema.
Instantly notable for featuring live performances by popular punk rock groups of the day (The Rockers, The Roosters, The Stalin, etc.), Burst City attracted a substantial Japanese youth audience who were fans of the music and anxious to complete their punk aesthetic by means of a feature film with which they could identify. But the film's application of punk ideology reaches far beyond the music, as articulated in this review by Tom Mes for Midnight Eye. He refers to it as "the starting point of contemporary Japanese cinema, making it one of the most important films in that cinema's history." (Kyu Hyun Kim also provides excellent commentary on the film's Region 1 DVD release via OhmyNews.)
Director Sōgo Ishii's work of this period could, at the very least, be described as sympathetic to the attitudes of Japanese youth counterculture. Prior to Burst City, his films included a narrative on bōsōzoku motorcycle gangs (Crazy Thunder Road in 1980, co-directed by actual bike gang members) and an early 8mm short from 1978, Panic High School, in which the administration's involvement in a student's suicide gives way to student rebellion. Both films were created while Ishii was still himself in school, attending Nihon University College of Art in Tokyo.
However, it was Burst City that provided Ishii with a breakthrough success. This film allowed him to not only document the burgeoning Japanese punk rock scene of the late 1970s and early 80s, but provide the movement's followers with a bizarre and surreal vision of the future as well; a hip, new dystopian "fantasy" to fuel the fires of an overwhelmingly dissatisfied generation on the brink of explosion.