Cyberpunk Review » Electric Dragon 80,000V

May 6, 2006

Electric Dragon 80,000V

Movie Review By: SFAM

Year: 2001

Directed by: Sogo Ishii

Written by: Sogo Ishii

IMDB Reference

Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High

Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Medium

Key Cast Members:

  • Dragon Eye Morrison: Tadanobu Asano
  • Thunderbolt Buddha: Masatoshi Nagase
  • Rating: 7 out of 10

    Electric Dragon 80,000V screen capture


    Overview: Sogo Ishii, master of the Japanese Extreme Cinema delivers a truly bizarre experience for us in Electric Dragon 80,000V. If you added the dialogue from this whole movie up, you probably wouldn’t get much more than a page or two. The story is told through visuals, and that said, the narrative itself isn’t all that deep. So why do I give the movie a decent rating? Simple – the visuals and the overall mood this film creates are absolutely unique. Electric Dragon 80,000V is first and foremost an experiential flick. The narrative definitely takes a back seat to the visual and sound integration.


    Electric Dragon 80,000 V screen capture


    The Story: Electric Dragon 80,0000V follows the maturation of two kids who had traumatic experiences with electricity when they were young. One, Dragon Eye Morrison (played by Tadanobu Asano, who also stars as Kakihara in Ichii, the Killer), underwent electric shock treatment due to being violent as a kid – specifically, he endured 80,000 Volts of electricity. When Dragon Eye Morrison undergoes electric shock treatment, something in his reaction awakens the Dragon. The Dragon is the Eastern style dragon – one that’s embedded in all living things and the world at large. Dragon Eye Morrison’s connection with the dragon releases the rage within in, and thus, forces him to get more shock treatments. With each electric shock treatment, he develops a deeper connection with the dragon. By the time he’s an adult, Morrison can commune with reptiles (he owns a bunch), and has learned that playing REALLY LOUD guitar music (well, playing really loud anyways) is able to sooth the rage within him.


    Electric Dragon 80,000V screen capture


    The other, Thunderbolt Buddha (Masatoshi Nagase) got electrocuted with 20 million volts while attempting to climb a power-line tower. The electricity is so high that half of his body becomes encased in metal – and in fact his personality is as split as his body. One side of him is trying to kill himself, while the other is deviously listening in on all electric conversations within his vicinity. It’s not to hard to figure out that Thunderbolt Budda is the bad guy in this modern Godzilla story.


    Electric Dragon 80,000 V screen capture


    By the time they are both adults, somehow Thunderbolt Buddha, who spends his time attached to a satellite dish, scanning the city, finds out about Dragon Eye Morrison – worse, he decides that the world isn’t big enough for the both of them! So Thunderbolt invades Morrison’s apartment and kills some of his lizards and takes others prisoner. Sure enough, Dragon Eye Morrison figures out who the culprit is and they meet at high noon! From there – it. is. ON BABY!!!!


    Electric Dragon 80,000 V screen capture


    What the Fuck is This Movie About? Yes, at first glance, this movie appears to be pretty shallow and non-sensical, and it may just be. But I like deeper meanings, so allow me to intuit. OK – assuming there is any meaning one can derive from this movie, my wild ass guess is it is this – Dragon Eye Morrison represents the Dragon on earth personified, whereas Thunderbolt Buddha represents modern technology. At first glance, modern technology appears stronger than the earth (20,000 volts to 80,000), yet, due to his ability to bring the full might of the dragon to bare, he’s able to stand up to modern technology. What’s interesting about this theory is the reversal of fortunes: Dragon Eye Morrison gets transformed to merging with the Dragon (earth) due to the detrimental use of technology on him, whereas Thunderbolt Buddha is transformed by a natural occurrence – lighting. In a sense, both grow up reacting against that which transformed them. Or, um, my theory is full of bunk – you make the call. :)


    Electric Dragon 80,000V screen capture


    The Sound: As tightly integrated as can be, Electric Dragon 80,000V links massively loud and distorted guitar sounds with the kinetic visuals. This is really the true genius of Ishii’s work. Like all Japanese Cyberpunk movies, Electric Dragon provides an assault on the senses. Unlike most, the assault in this case isn’t as strong on notion of humanity itself, but is instead an assault on you, the viewer. To really experience this movie in the way it was intended, I STRONGLY recommend absolutely cranking the sound. If you don’t do this, you really will lose out on the mood this picture tries to set, and really, will not get the attraction


    Electric Dragon 80,000 V screen capture


    The Visuals: Electric Dragon 80,000V is really rather sedate for the first half. While well shot, the visuals aren’t really that noteworthy from a Japanese Cyberpunk standpoint. But the second half is FILLED with a bevy of truly bizarre shots. Electricity integrated with humans is the theme, and it is explored in a variety of ways, though showing various forms of electricity to kinetic shots of volts coursing through our lead characters. The second half uses the same style of stop-motion animation we get in Tetsuo - The Iron Man. While the movies are radically different, the movement of these two films is pretty similar.


    Electric Dragon 80,000 V screen capture


    The Bottom Line: Electric Dragon 80,000V is clearly an indulgence in extremes. The mood brought on by the sounds and visuals far outweighs what little exists of the narrative. In the end, Electric Dragon 80,000V is either a movie you really dig or absolutely abhor. For this reason, I find it pretty difficult to give a solid rating, so I’ve gone with 7 stars - which implies that it’s a good movie, but one that some may not like. The entire thing is barely 50 minutes, so if you find yourself hating it, not to worry, it will be over soon. If you do like it though, Electric Dragon 80,000V has solid replay value.


    ~See movies similar to this one~


    May 6, 2006

    Glam Creature said:

    For me “Electric Dragon” is wonderful cyberpunk rock’n'roll movie. I will mention that movie soundtrack is created by Tadanobu Asano and Sogo Ishii’s band “Match 1.67″. Lizard investigator Dragon Eye Morrison charakter, I guess, is tribute to Jim Morrison, film maker, poet and lead singer of the legendary band “The Doors”, who had a nickname “Lizard King”.
    As Sfam sees conlict between earth and modern technology, I would call it conflict between creativity and destruction. As both characters has somehow to deal with the psyche/energy
    (as I see electricity simbolizing both technologies and vital/psyche energy merging one to another ) which can’t be dealed only through their daily job and can’t let them live calmely, Dragon Eye Morisson finds way to deal with it, playing guitar, Thunderbolt Buddha can’t deal with his schizophrenia anyway but destroying.
    I think comparing movie to “Tetsuo - The Iron Man” is also important, as both movies are B&W, deals with technology and bodie transformation, has punkrock/industrial/noise music background and gives intensive visual impact.

    SFAM said:

    Hi Glam, terrific post :)

    Yeah, the Jim Morrison reference is definitely one bantied around on this flick. And the tension between creativity and destruction is a really interesting way to view this.

    June 4, 2007

    Klaw said:

    My favorite part of the movie is actually the graphics, also done by the lead Tadanobu Asano… the final credits I think are astonishing. Really the movie is meant to be a visceral punk rocknroll joyride, not overtly intellectual… but as for concepts I read it as more “control versus raw passion”… or something.

    February 1, 2008

    Claw Man said:

    AYEEEHH!!!! The green!!!! i feel radioactive!!!

    March 30, 2009

    Anonymous said:


    April 10, 2009

    Mr No 1 said:

    Brilliant film, funny and entertaining.

    August 17, 2009

    Masque said:

    from Sogo Ishii there’s another very good movie, made for the industrial rock band Einstuerzende Neubauten and named Haber Mensch (1/2 Mensch), that contains some nice sort of CP visuals and themes.

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