Ishii, Sogo 1957-
ISHII, Sogo 1957-
PERSONAL: Born Toshihiro Ishii, January 15, 1957, in Hakata, Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Suncent CinemaWorks, 1-12-9 6th Floor Hiratsuka, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo 142-0051, Japan; fax: +81-3-5749-2341.
CAREER: Director, screenwriter, and punk musician. Director of films, including Koko dai panikku (also known as Panic High School and Panic in High School), 1978; Totsugeki! Hakata Gurentai (also known as Charge! Hooligans of Hakata), 1978; Hachijyu-Hachi-Man Bun no Ichi no Kodoku (also known as Solitude of One Divided by 880,000), 1978; Hashiru, 1979; Kuruizaki sanda rodo (also known as Crazy Thunder Road), Toei, 1980; Anarchy '80 Ishin (promotional film for the punk band Anarchy), 1981; Shuffle, 1981; Bakuretsu toshi (also known as Burst City), 1982; Stop Jap (music video for the punk band The Stalin), 1982; Norikoto: Toriaezu no Taiwa No. 1, 1982; Ajia no gyakushu (also known as Asia Strikes Back; concert video for the punk band Sogo Ishii and the Bacillus Army), 1983; Gyakufunsha kazoku (also known as The Crazy Family), 1984; Isseifubi Sepia: Genzai Ga Suki Desu (title means "Isseifubi Sepia: We Love the Present"; music video for the pop band Isseifubi Sepia), 1984; The Roosterz: Paranoic Live (concert video for the punk band The Roosterz), 1984; The Stalin: For Never, Last Live Zessan Kaisanchu (concert video for the punk band The Stalin), 1984; 1/2 Mensch (also known as 1/2 Man and Hanbun ningen; film of the 1985 Japanese tour of the German noise band Einstürzende Neubauten), 1986; Shiatsu Oja (also known as The Master of Shiatsu), KSS Inc., 1989; Private 8mm Film Live Diary 81-86, 1989; J-Movie Wars: Tokyo Blood (made-for-television movie), 1992; (and editor, with Hiroshi Matsuo) Enjeru dasuto (also known as Angel Dust), 1994; Mizu no naka no hachigatsu (also known as August in the Water), 1995; Yume no ginga (also known as Labyrinth of Dreams, 1997; Gojoe senki (also known as Gojoe and Gojo reisen ki), 2000; and Electric Dragon 80,000 V, Suncent CinemaWorks, 2000. Member of the punk band Sogo Ishii and the Bacillus Army, with Toshiyuki "Kiku" Shibayama, c.1983, and of the noise band Mach 1.67, with Tadanobu Asano and Masatoshi Nagase, c. late 1990s—. Sogo Ishii and the Bacillus Army released one album, Asia Strikes Back.
SCREENPLAYS; ALSO DIRECTOR
Shuffle, based on the manga Run by Katsuhiro Otomo, 1981.
Gyakufunsha kazoku (also known as The Crazy Family), 1984.
1/2 Mensch (also known as 1/2 Man and Hanbun ningen; film of 1985 Japanese tour of German noise band Einstürzende Neubauten), 1986.
(With Yorozu Ikuta) Enjeru Dasuto (also known as Angel Dust), 1994.
Mizu no naka no hachigatsu (also known as August in the Water), 1995.
Yume no ginga (also known as Labyrinth of Dreams), based on a novel by Kyusaku Yumeno, 1997.
Gojoe senki (also known as Gojoe and Gojoe reisen ki), Sento Takenori and Suncent CinemaWorks, 2000.
Electric Dragon 80,000 V, Suncent CinemaWorks, 2000.
SIDELIGHTS: Japanese writer and director Sogo Ishii is famous for his ability to mix his two loves, punk music and film, to create imaginative, energetic pieces of art. As a teenager in the 1970s, Ishii was part of the punk rock revolution that was then underway in his native northern Kyushu; he took up film directing as a college student in Tokyo. While in college, Ishii used equipment borrowed from his university to make numerous shorts and the feature-length films Panic High School and Crazy Thunder Road. These films "inevitably carried Ishii's affinity with the punk scene on their sleeves, featuring the struggles of misfits and underdogs against established society," Tom Mes explained on Midnight Eye. Crazy Thunder Road, Ishii's graduation project, was so impressive that a major studio bought it and distributed it to theaters across Japan.
After graduating, Ishii made films about the punk scene, like the notable Burst City, and also made concert and promotional films for Japan's hottest punk bands, including Anarchy and The Stalin. Ishii later moved into more conventional films, such as the thriller Angel Dust about a serial murderer who operates in the crowded, rush-hour Tokyo subways, but with Ishii's more recent film Electric Dragon 80,000 V he returned to his punk roots. This film has been described as "a wild ride" and "heavy duty craziness," by David Rooney of Variety and Rob Ferraz of Exclaim!, respectively. The film's protagonist, Dragon Eye Morrison, developed dragon-like powers after being electrocuted as a child. His nemesis, Thunderbolt Buddha, was struck by lightning as a child, and his electrical experience has also left him deeply changed. In the film's climactic scene, which, Rooney noted, like the rest of the film is "cut at breakneck speed and shot with convulsive, multiangle dexterity," the two fight for dominance on the rooftops of Tokyo.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Volume 35, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.
Singer, Michael, editor, Michael Singer's Film Directors, ninth international edition, Lone Eagle Publishing (Los Angeles, CA), 1992.
Independent (London, England), January 7, 1999, Anthony Quinn, review of Angel Dust, p. 9.
New Statesman, February 21, 1986, John Coleman, review of The Crazy Family, p. 30.
New York Times, February 11, 1986, Janet Maslin, review of The Crazy Family, p. 26; January 24, 1997, Stephen Holden, review of Angel Dust, p. B20; June 13, 1997, Peter M. Nichols, review of Angel Dust, p. B16.
Progressive, March, 1986, Michael H. Seitz, review of The Crazy Family, p. 40.
Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), January 30, 1997, Bob Campbell, review of Angel Dust, p. 63.
Variety, March 6, 1985, review of Gyakufunsha kasoku, p. 249; March 5, 2001, David Rooney, review of Electric Dragon 80,000 V, p. 46.
Exclaim!,http://www.exclaim.ca/ (September 21, 2001), Rob Ferraz, review of Electric Dragon 80,000 V.
Midnight Eye,http://www.midnighteye.com/ (April 11, 2003), Tom Mes, "The Concert Films of Sogo Ishii."*