Burst City

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Burst City
Directed bySogo Ishii
Produced byMitsuhiko Akita
Hiroshi Kobayashi
Written bySogo Ishii
Mitsuhiko Akita
CinematographyNorimichi Kasamatsu
Edited bySogo Ishii
Naoto Yamakawa
Junji Sakamoto
Release date
  • March 13, 1982 (1982-March-13) (Japan)
Running time
115 min

Burst City (爆裂都市, Bakuretsu Toshi) is a Japanese dystopian punk rock musical / action film. Released in 1982, the film was directed by Sogo Ishii. Primarily a showcase for various specific punk rock bands of the time, such as The Roosters, The Rockers, and The Stalin, the film is also purely demonstrative of the culture and attitude of the punk rock community of Japan in the mid-to-late 1970s and the early 1980s, and is considered a defining film of that subculture.[1]


The plot is not very complex, as much of the action and drama of the film relies on musical interludes, character interactions, and commentary on the class system in the film's fictional universe. What plot there is follows two different threads. In the first, residents in a dystopia future attempt to rebel against the construction of a nuclear power plant in their part of Tokyo. They race cars, party, and brawl to the music of The Rockers and The Stalin. In the second, a small mute and his hard-core friend ride their bikes around the city hunting down the person who murdered the mute's brother. The two threads combine when the bikers meet the power plant construction workers and discover that the oppressive businessman who runs the power plant is the same man they've been searching for. The bikers, workers, and punks all band together to take on the businessman and his yakuza buddies. The "battle police" arrive, and everything erupts into violence.


Ishii created Burst City right in the middle of the punk movement in Japan, and many contemporary punk musicians took on leading acting roles in the film, as well as performing songs in the film. Ishii wanted to feature musicians from all three of the major punk hubs in Japan: The Stalin were from Tokyo, Machizo Machida was from Kansai, and The Roosters and the Rockers were from Kyushu.[1] The cast and crew lived on the post-apocalyptic set that they built for the duration of the shoot.[2]

To give the film a fresh, revolutionary feel, Ishii experimented with a lot of different techniques. The editing style is extremely fast and chaotic, and some scenes combine a mix of undercranked shots and regular speed shots with striking results. Musical numbers and scenes of performers getting ready backstage are shot in a documentary style.[1] The backgrounds are populated with thousands of extras in eccentric costumes and hairstyles, all captured in grainy 16mm film.[3][4]


The film was distributed by the Toei studio. It was later released on Region 1 DVD by Discotek in June 2006, and then on Bluray in January 2016 by Toei.[3]


The film is highly regarded among critics and audiences alike. Its hyperkinetic, unrelentingly high energy style was wildly different from other films of the period and extremely innovative. The film is also regarded for being purely inspired from music, and the way the punk aesthetic, culture, and music exerts its influence over every element, scene, and character in the film. It has been called one of the "starting points in contemporary Japanese cinema", along with Ishii's own Shuffle, Panic in High School, and Crazy Thunder Road.[5]

It's debatable whether the cinematic innovations of yesterday translate to viewers today. Todd Brown of ScreenAnarchy argued that "while Burst City is clearly a watershed film, it stands up better as a cultural document than as a film, per se,"[2] but Simon Abrams wrote on RogerEbert.com that the director "perfectly captures his subjects' prickly, defiant attitude, making Burst City a defiant (and still-relevant) reaction to nuclear proliferation."[4]


Soundtrack album by
Released5 March 1982
Length37min 51sec

The Burst City original soundtrack was released by SEE SAW on March 5, 1982.


No. Date Label Format Product Number
1 5 March 1982 SEE・SAW LP C28A0207
2 7 December 1988 SEE・SAW CD D25P6295
3 20 May 1994 Pony Canyon CD PCCA-00584
4 20 November 2002 SEE・SAW CD PCCA-01812


A Side
1."ソルジャー" (1984) Junji Ikehata19843:19
2."セル ナンバー 8(第8病棟)" (Battle Rockers)Takanori JinnaiShinya OheBattle Rockers3:53
3."ワイルド・スーパーマーケット" (Battle Rockers)Shinya OheShinya OheBattle Rockers3:02
4."シャープシューズでケリ上げろ!" (The Rockers)Takanori JinnaiTanio TaniThe Rockers1:29
5."プア ボーイ" (The Rockers)Takanori JinnaiTakanori JinnaiThe Rockers3:23
6."ソロー" (1984) Tomio Inoue19841:38
7."シスターダークネス" (Battle Rockers)Shinya OheShinya OheBattle Rockers2:59
B Side
8."視界ゼロのマチ" (Takanori Jinnai)Shigeru IzumiyaTakanori JinnaiThe Rockers3:19
9."キックス" (1984) Hiroyuki Hanada19842:37
10."マイト ガイ" (The Rockers)Takanori JinnaiTanio TaniThe Rockers2:06
11."バチラス ボンブ(細菌爆弾)" (Battle Rockers)Shinya OheShinya OheThe Rockers2:21
12."フラストレーション" (Battle Rockers)Takanori JinnaiTakanori JinnaiBattle Rockers1:56
13."ボロボロ" (Battle Rockers)Takanori JinnaiTanio TaniBattle Rockers1:44
14."セル ナンバー 8(第8病棟) リプリーズ" (Battle Rockers)Takanori JinnaiShinya OheBattle Rockers3:37

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Mes, Tom; Sharp, Jasper (2005). The Midnight Eye guide to new Japanese film. Stone Bridge Press. ISBN 1880656892.
  2. ^ a b Brown, Todd (28 August 2006). Burst City / Electric Dragon 80000V Review ScreenAnarchy. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  3. ^ a b Ishii, Yuriko (6 November 2015). 80年代の伝説的カルト映画『爆裂都市』がブルーレイ化. Cinematoday. Retrieved 28 July 2018.
  4. ^ a b Abrams, Simon (14 July 2016). 2016 Japan Cuts Festival Preview. RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  5. ^ Mes, Tom (24 July 2001). "Burst City". Midnight Eye. Archived from the original on 3 October 2017. Retrieved 28 July 2018.

External links[edit]