Aug 14, 2008


Shuffle is an early art film directed by punk auteur Sogo Ishii. The prerequisite for all Ishii films happens to be striking visuals, a blaring punk soundtrack, and at least one outrageous scenario. For these reasons, he is a punk film pioneer up there with Zedd and Kern. He is most known for Panic High School, Burst City, and Electric Dragon 80,000V.

Probably galvanizing the lesser film Run Lola Run, Shuffle is a story that is told without words. The actions of each individual is what shines through to you. Meet an unnamed punk shaving his head. The distorted angles and views might represent his displaced emotions. This man murdered his girlfriend and is hunting down the Yakuza who hooked her on drugs.

The style of the film is largely what captivates the audience so vividly. The films heart is a 20+ minute long street chase scene which erupts into a flashback. The parkour-esque environment that this film erupts with is one reason why I enjoy this film so much. The character houses great torture in his eyes as he screams to a detective to stop chasing him.

This short was based off a manga entitled Run. When Ishii decided to adapt the work into film, he didn't ask permission to do so. After the film was completed, he projected it to the author and got approval, although he was shunned for his negligence. The story itself owes a debt to early noir. I wouldn't doubt for one second that Shuffle's plot piece inspired the creation of such classic games as River City Ransom and Double Dragon, although being hectic and darker.

Shuffle isn't a masterwork. In fact, the film is pretty hard to get through at times, but the ending is where the pact is sealed and fates are decided. An ending worthy of being placed near the beginning of Irreversible and the ending of La Haine. Shuffle is a powerful film, without a doubt, but it is just another Japanese film. We have enough of those already.


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