There aren’t enough movies where you can see an ex boxer turned pet detective wielding a guitar at full amplitude shredding riffs of pure sonic electricity at evil electricians and then vanquishing them into ashes with the shock of pure metal in their ear drums to satisfy that urge to want to smash a guitar on the ground and hear it burst into a million pieces of scrap metal and play a final solo act before its sonic waves drift into oblivion.
In Electric Dragon 80.000v (2001) directed by Ishii Sogo, this movie does just that. It reinvents the wheel by combining folklore and rock and roll we know of to form a devil child action movie bursting with new electric energy. This is the super hero movie you’ve never heard of.
Electric Dragon 80.000v is about Dragon Eye Morrison, a local pet detective who lives by himself in the streets of Tokyo, played by the Tadanobu Asano who acted as one of the bad guys in the Thor movies. He is an ex boxer champion who took the boot from competition because of his anger management issues and now straps himself to an electric chair thing to control his impulses. Similarly, his arch rival the Thunder Buddha, also feels the need to inflict pain on himself with his electrical know-how to harness his ever increasing energy, using DIY weaponry to zap himself to feel good. One day he sets out to wreck havoc on a missing lizard, who little does he know will lead to his ultimate match. The movie becomes a cat and mouse game to see who will have the highest voltage in all of Tokyo.
The two feel like society has prevented them from expressing their innermost thoughts. Between fighting criminals and working, there is no other purpose in life for Dragon Eye and Electric Buddha, who both happen to be very bored and very angry. What sets them apart in the movie is only their seemingly raw power that they can draw from the power lines in the city. The Electric Buddha sees society unfit for his vision of perfection, or maybe he feels like he can’t meet the expectations he places upon himself. You know Dragon Eye is a good guy who is capable of achieving more in life. But only some can understand the struggle of living up to the past and the amount of weight it holds for goals that become undone due to differences from what is to be expected from the mainstream.
The city as an urban area filled with crime and vengeance. It is very cool to see the streets of Tokyo from a very technologically advanced city detached from any feeling of romanticism or exaggerated narrative on everyday reality. The gritty black and white style has a grungy feel to it similar to movies like the Akira inspired movie, Tetsuo the Iron Man, Sin City, or even to the hip hop vibes of the Samurai Champloo anime series. It is a slow grind at first. But hang on and there there will be some true grit to the slick aesthetic in which the action is played out. The interlude animations are very well done in bold Japanese text that flash a mile a second. The soundtrack is filled with distorted machinery and punk vocalists who seemed to have gone over the edge as well. It pairs well like an 1990s industrial metal EP album remade in music video form. The music that plays throughout the movie is created by the members of the actor’s band, Mach- 1.67, which doesn’t do anything but give an extra pop.
Simply put, Electric Dragon 80.000v is about the rivalry between two powerful men. But it is not a heroic super hero movie in any way. It is an intense brotherly film in which love is felt deeply rather than affectionately. Sometimes a man doesn’t need Earthly comforts. They must push one another to physical limits in order to reach the spiritual enlightenment that one has to attain. Pain is enough to keep some on their toes. That’s the only way they can climb higher up the ladder. Others like to wait on the other side of the ladder just to enjoy the world burn down to the ground. The Electric Buddha to Dragon Eye is what the Joker is to Batman. It is absolute savagery. It should be illegal at how much damn electricity is in this movie. This movie is worth more than 80.000 volts of electricity. It’s 55 minute run time will be over before you know it.
“The dragon. A mythological creature? No. It exists — inside us.”
4 broken guitars/ 5 broken guitars
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