Beijing Punk – DVD Review

February 12, 2013

Beijing Punk - DVD ReviewPunk rock in China, sound far fetched? Well it’s alive and kicking in the countries capital of Beijing where a film maker traveled in the summer of 2008 to document the emerging scene. Most film makers would likely cover the international games known as the Summer Olympics, but an Australian by the name of  Shaun Jefford ventured into the large city and focused on an untold story, the story of rebellious youth who found a voice in Punk Rock music.

In every part of North America and Europe Punk Rock has been a known subculture for 3 plus decades, but to the Chinese who have lived under a fascist like government, exposure to American and British Punk Rock has been very limited until recently. With the help of the internet many Chinese youth are picking up punk rock culture and adapting it to their struggle. The streets of Beijing often resemble a war zone where stray bullets fly as documented in the film, so hardcore punk strikes a chord with many teens in China looking to find a music that reflects life around them. 

An American living in China opened up a music venue (D22) and soon found that many of the youth were talented musicians who quickly put together bands and could often fill the club night after night. Some of the bands adapted a UK 82 style Punk look and sound (Demerit) while another featured band pride themselves on being Beijing Bootboy Skinheads (Misandao). Jeffords films both bands and their poor living conditions which mirrors the same conditions many Punks in the late 70’s and early 80’s survived through. Much like their western counterparts the Chinese Punk Rockers embrace drinking alcohol and playing music very loud. Drug abuse isn’t tolerated in China so many Punks stray away from doing it in public as the risk of getting caught isn’t worthwhile. Misandao’s guitarist is sent away to a work camp for months after being charged for a minor drug offense and the band are denied visas to tour outside of China. Demerit find trouble when they want to release an album with controversial lyrics and have to delay the release of their cd. For a band there isn’t much of a future in China, so touring outside the country is any bands ticket to a career. The film ends with Demerit attaining visas to tour the US. 

Overall this documentary shows a lot about an otherwise unknown part of the world in regards to its Punk Rock connection. For everyone who thinks they’ve lived and seen it all well this documentary is for you. For those who want to see Punk Rock sprouting in another part of the world, this too is for you. The 3rd world country Punk Rock scene is sure growing and this documentation proves just that.

-Louie Bones-

Big Wheel Staff  Reporter


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