Today I watched Sogo Ishii’s Electric Dragon 80.000 V (2001)
Electric Dragon 80.000 V marks director Ishii’s return to Cyberpunk styled films after being the progenitor of Japanese Cyberpunk with Burst City. It is the story of a man who has been electrocuted all his life and thus has superhuman electrical powers. He finds emotional release in electric guitar and noisy rock music which features heavily throughout the film. Once again Ishii is fusing a vaguely futuristic modern setting with ideas derived from raw music.
While the sounds of Burst City were provided by the culturally pervasive punk of the time, here in Electric Dragon the music is a very unique and personal form of noise rock. If one were to look at it as a sequel to Burst City, one can see a logical thematic progression in how they use music. While Burst City reveled in a time and place, it’s characters finding meaning in the community the music created; Electric Dragon’s main character, Dragon Eye Morrison, finds solace performing his extreme and unique songs to himself.
This Dragon Eye Morrison character, played by the ever charismatic Tadanobu Asano, is in some ways a super heroic deconstruction. Like any good hero he has a nemesis in the form of Thunderbolt Buddha, a tyrannically moralistic character with lightning powers all his own. While Morrison rights the trivial wrong of lost lizards,Thunderbolt Buddha hunts dangerous criminals, this choice and the dichotomy between the two characters adds a second level of thematic detail underneath Ishii’s recurring musical themes.
With it’s shocking black and white imagery and awesome cinematography, Electric Dragon 80.000 V takes the old style of Japanese Cyberpunk and modernizes it. There is also a pulpy comic book sense about the editing and scene transitions that fits perfectly with the nature of the story. The film is brimming with attitude and style and delivers solid entertainment with the hefty thematic underpinnings of a classic Cyberpunk work. 5/5