Today, streaming has become the norm and is beginning to challenge the mainstream cinematic experience. Whilst this creates a problem by preventing audiences seeing a film as the director intended, in a cinema, it affords those films excluded from theatrical releases a chance. In many ways it’s history repeating. Straight-to-video is now straight-to-stream. In Japan, V-Cinema capitalised on the VHS/Betamax boom of the late ‘80s/early ‘90s to create a whole new market. Released in 1996, Sabu’s debut Dangan Runner fit perfectly into its mould.
A bungling would-be bank robber (Tomorô Taguchi) forgets his mask, forcing him to visit a convenience store in order to acquire another. When he’s caught shoplifting, he bolts but the clerk Aizawa (Diamond Yukai), a washed-up rock star, gives chase. The pursuit snakes across the city, and when the shop worker collides with a Yakuza he owes money to (Shin’ichi Tsutsumi) another joins the chase.
Dangan Runner is a madcap action comedy which somehow brilliantly pushes a concept to its extreme limits. Sabu, who went on to direct the likes of Happiness, Mr Long and Miss Zombie, controls the pace perfectly. It’s absurd, yet ingenious. He also throws in the most ludicrous sex scene I’ve ever witnessed for good measure. The fate of these three losers isn’t necessarily in their own hands as gangs and cops converge around them. Dangan Runner is like nothing else you’ve ever seen before.
- First 1000 copies come with collectable slipcase
- Interview with director Sabu
- VCinema: A Video Essay by Tom Mes
- Audio Commentary by Jasper Sharp
Dangan Runner is released on dual format DVD and Blu-ray by Third Window Films on 12 November.