Electric Dragon 80,000V

May 6, 2006

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.

     

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    This post has been filed under 7 Star Movies, Man-machine Interface, Japanese Cyberpunk, Good low-budget movies, Surreal Cyberpunk Movies, Awesome Cyberpunk Visuals, Cyberpunk movies from 2000 – current by SFAM.
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    Hackers

    March 5, 2006

    Year: 1995

    Directed by: Iain Softley

    Written by: Rafael Moreu

    Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: Medium

    Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Medium

    Key Cast Members:

  • Dade Murphy/’Crash Override’/’Zero Cool’: Jonny Lee Miller
  • Kate: Angelina Jolie
  • : Fisher Stevens
  • Rating: 7 out of 10


    Screencap

    “You are elite.”

     

    Overview: OK, so its not near future, but these kids have the glorified underground hacker thing down. In Hackers, every computer is networked and available for hacking. Hackers gives us a plethora of cool computer imagery cut scenes, 3D buildings serving as file share stores, and lots of underground punk visuals. These visuals are packed into a nicely paced movie that makes the outlandish story of high stakes theft, environmental destruction and hacker antiheroes fun to watch.

     

    Screencap

    Using “God” as the password is not very secure, but it does serve to highlight the hacker feeling of omnipotence.

     

    The Story: Hackers follows the life of a group of “Elite” hackers, who, through chance while playing a hacking game, uncover a plot within a large bank to contaminate the environment by blaming innocent hackers on messing up software that causes automated oil tankers to spill in order to cover up the theft of millions. The lead bad guy, code name “The Plague” (played by Fisher Stevens) is also a hacker, except that he has “sold his soul” to corporate life and serves as the lead security consultant. The struggle between the hackers and The Plague inevitably brings in the hapless police, who immediately are duped into arresting the hacker force.

     

    Screencap

     

    While the larger “destroy the environment for personal and corporate greed” theme is going on, there is also intertwined teenage alienation and bonding themes. Most all the hackers are outcasts from “regular” society. The leads Jonny Lee Miller, who plays hacker “Crash Override,” and Angelina Jolie (Acid Burn) engage in a hacking contest, of which, the loser has to wear a dress on a date (Jolie never wears dresses).

     

    Screencap

     

    The Hackers: Both Jonny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie do a great job in playing slick, but semi-nerdish “Elite” hackers. They head up a cast of misfits, all of whom are consumed with breaking in to everywhere just to see if they can. Jesse Bradford, Matthew Lillard, Laurence Mason, and Renoly Santiago all give fun, memorable performances All the popularized hacker approaches are shown here, including social engineering, sifting through trash, and hackers thumbing their nose at authority. The notion of an “Elite,” which is someone in the top 5% of all hackers is given as the ultimate goal for all who aspire to be hackers. To be recognized as such, you have to have a high-profile hack in your history.

     

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    The Visuals: Hackers is more visually interesting due to all the creative hacking cut-scenes interspersed throughout the movie. They serve to glorify hacking, networked computers and the overall hacking lifestyle. Because staring at a computer while typing doesn’t yield exciting celluloid, this was a nice approach to keep things interesting. Unfortunately, it is completely absurd from a realism standpoint (especially the 3D knowledge stores), as hackers pretty much keep to source code and text prompts. Shots of the underground punk scene generally consist of flashes of neon colors in darkly lit, oddly shaped rave bars.

     

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    The Bottom Line: There are a bunch of the hacker movie types, but I find Hackers to be on of the most enjoyable to watch. This glorification of the hacker movement is charming, as are most of the hacker co-stars. Miller and Jolie have great chemistry, and make you really care about an otherwise absurd story. Again, don’t look for realism in Hackers, but enjoy it nonetheless.

     

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    This post has been filed under 7 Star Movies, Hacker Movies, Cyberpunk movies from 1990 – 1999 by SFAM.
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