Asian Movie Tuesday-ELECTRIC DRAGON 80,000 V

Sogo Ishii’s Electric Dragon 80,000 V is a tough movie to convince someone to watch. Not because it’s a poor film, which it most definitely isn’t, but it’s just so unorthodox. The execution is extremely unique, which could prove intimidating or off putting to a viewer who isn’t accustomed to a movie like this. I’m going to try my best to make a case for it though. The movie is essentially a comic book style story involving two men. Dragon Eye Morrison (Tadanobu Asano) as a child went through electro-shock treatment for his aggressive behavior. Over the years, the levels of energy his body absorbs allows him to channel and conduct electricity. When he reaches adulthood, he becomes a reptile investigator in the city. His counterpart is named Thunderbolt Buddha (Masatoshi Nagase) who is a TV repair man turned vigilante, who like Morrison, has the same electric powers from a childhood accident where he was struck by lightening while climbing a pylon conductor.  He spends his adulthood hunting crime bosses and gangsters. Half of his body is encased in metal, with a face resembling the Buddha, to contain all the electricity that is housed in him. Basically, the story is that both men learn of each others existence and Buddha challenges Morrison to a showdown on the rooftops of Tokyo.

The weakest aspect of this movie is its story and its simple premise. While a classic story with a protagonist and antagonist about to engage in battle, it’s something you have seen before and doesn’t scream originality. Both of our leads don’t do much talking in way of dialogue and the film’s story is explained by a Narrator (Masakatsu Funaki).  Normally that’s a huge issue because you could become bored by such a story, but it’s everything else about it that makes this film incredibly original. The thing you will take away from this movie is that it goes after your senses. This movie is a visual and audio pleasure that will not let you go. It has a kind of ADD style of film making, and blasts away at your ears with loud and fast electric music. Morrison even violently plays his electric guitar when he gets really pissed off, which is frequent throughout. You feel his anger in his music. The basic story gives these two a ball park to play in, and we’re rewarded with a satisfying final confrontation between the two characters. Both actors really get to let loose in this movie, especially Asano who literally just bursts of energy with his performance.

Electric Dragon 80,000 V plays out much like an extended music video, but it’s a complete film. Even though it’s told at a brisk 55 minutes, it’s really all that was needed to explore this story. You may not find this movie to be your cup of tea, but it’s most definitely something you probably haven’t seen before. It’s quite the experience.

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