By Cal Meacham
My colleague Thoughtblocking and I have distinctly different positions on the merits of Terrence Malick. He enjoys hours upon hours of nothingness disguised as cinema, I prefer to watch something along the lines the BBC’s Planet Earth (at least they aren’t trying to hide what they actually are). So some might wonder how I could like a movie like Electric Dragon?
Electric Dragon 80,000v isn’t so much a story as it is an art piece/music video. A loose outline can be traced as a story of a man called Dragon Eye Morrison who gains strength from electricity after he was treated for bad behavior with electroshock therapy, throughout his youth. Instead of using his strength to pummel faces, he unleashes it on an electric guitar. Yup, that’s right……….an electric guitar. By day he searches for people’s reptiles who have gone missing, by night he shreds a mean axe. Meanwhile another man by the name of Thunderbolt Buddha, who has also experienced a shock trauma when he was in his youth, uses his powers to kill mob bosses. Thunderbolt struggles with the electric half of his body as it makes attempts on his life (think Peter Sellers as Dr. Strangelove) and it seems as if these electricity titan’s are destined for a show down.
Not much time is spent building to the climax (with the short length of the film) but you won’t be disappointed by the rooftop battle between Thuderbolt Buddha and Dragon Eye even though the scene is less focused on “action” and more focused on being another visual vessel for the soundtrack. Just the kind of fun one could hope for!
Clocking in at a mere 55 minutes Electric Dragon is the perfect length of awesome. Clearly inspired by the 50’s and 60’s works from Seijun Suzuki and equal parts a unique blend, it accomplishes exactly what it sets out to be: A wall of sound (thanks to the lengthy guitar wailing scenes and music from MACH 1.67). The plot is minor and even forgettable because of how enamored I was with the sights and sounds. Unlike a Malick film, director Sogo Ishii doesn’t try to force a plot into a movie that isn’t about a story. It is about sounds and visuals and an attempt at an elaborate story would only lessen the final product.
This film shows that art can be fun without compromising style or substance. By not taking itself too seriously it is much easier to sit back and enjoy the attack on your senses and smile the whole way. Spinning in the background at a trendy coffee house or at home on the couch with your buddies, this film can provide a load of entertainment in a wide array of venues.