The Way of the Sword: From boom to bust: Japanese cinema in the 1980s
Hosted by Ryan Ferguson
Japan was the envy of the world in the 1980s, as the second-largest economy on the planet, Japan became the hub of the global dream. Status and style became the de rigueur stand-ins for culture, and a nationwide party that began in the 60s was hurtling towards its inevitable crash of the early 90s. Under the surface, Japanese filmmakers’ sensitivity to growing angst and isolation of those in a society consumed by surface found their new iconoclast in punk. An often overlooked decade in the history of Japanese cinema that culminated in the cinematic revelations of Akira and Tetsuo, the Iron Man, the films in this program represent a few of the key steps on the path from boom to bust.
Ryan Ferguson is a film programmer and musician based in Hamilton, ON. He was the lead programmer of the AGH Film Festival between 2014 and 2021 and is the former Curator of Film at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Ryan currently programs the theatrical and special event film screenings at The Westdale. Japanese historical and contemporary cinema is Ryan’s primary area of interest, and ‘The Way of the Sword’ is part of a series of film programs he is developing to provide more exposure to the lesser seen corners of Japanese Cinema.
Burst City (1982, Japan)
Sci-fi, Action 115 Minutes
Japanese with English subtitles
Directed by Shogo Ishii
“Foreshadows everything from the works of Shinya Tsukamoto and Takashi Miike to two decades of MTV music videos.” — Tom Mes, MIDNIGHT EYE
Fans of TETSUO: THE IRON MAN take note! An early landmark in cyberpunk cinema, BURST CITY is an experimental, dystopian musical from underground filmmaker Sogo Ishii that ignites a Molotov cocktail of MAD MAX-style carnage and riotous performances from members of the
real-life Japanese punk bands The Stalin, The Roosters, The Rockers and INU. In a derelict industrial wasteland on the outskirts of Tokyo, two rival bands and their unruly mobs of fans gather for a Battle of the Bands-style protest against a nuclear power plant, bringing them
face-to-face with the yakuza industrialists behind the development of their turf. This extraordinary celebration of Japan’s punk music scene of the early 1980s thrust Sōgo Ishii (now known by the name of Gakuryū Ishii), the underground filmmaking wunderkind behind such works as Half Human: Einstürzende Neubauten (1986), Angel Dust (1994) and Electric Dragon.