There just aren’t enough movies where an ex-boxer turned pet detective wields 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 (Thor). He is an ex boxer champion who took the boot because of his anger management issues and now straps himself to an electric chair thing to control his anger. Similarly, his arch rival, the Thunder Buddha, also feels the need to hurt himself with his electrical DIY know-how to control his ever increasing energy. When a missing lizard is one day hijacked by the Thunder Buddha, who little does he know is Dragon Eye’s lifeblood (literally) the movie will become a cat and mouse game to see who will have the highest voltage in all of Tokyo.
Between fighting criminals and working, there is no other purpose in life for Dragon Eye and Electric Buddha, who both happen to be bored and very angry. The Electric Buddha sees society unfit for his vision of perfection. And you know Dragon Eye is a good guy who is capable of achieving more in life but just does not know how to get about. The city as an urban jungle empty of love. Only some can understand the struggle of living up to the past and the amount of weight it can hold by the expectations of an older society who deem their differences as a bad thing.
It is very cool to see the streets of Tokyo from a very technologically advanced city detached from any feeling of romanticism from 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 or Sin City. It is a slow grind at first. Hang on and there there will be fun to be had. The interlude animations are done well in bold 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 like an 1990s industrial metal EP album in music video form. The music in the movie is even created by the members of the actor’s own band, Mach- 1.67, which doesn’t do anything but give that extra zing for sure.
Simply put, Electric Dragon 80.000v is about the rivalry between two powerful men. It is not a heroic movie in any way. It is an intense film in which love is felt deeply rather than affectionately. One must push another past physical limits in order to reach the enlightenment they deserve. Some need pain to climb higher while others like to wait on the other side to watch the world burn. Dragon Eye to the Electric Buddha is what Batman is to the Joker. It should be illegal at how much 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.”