Dragonball Evolution (Review)

Dragonball Evolution


2009
Directed by James Wong
Written by Ben Ramsey


Dragonball is a famous manga and anime series from Japan that has fans all over the world. I am not one of those fans so I don’t give a crap how they deviated from the source material. If you just want to read a review that complains about that stuff, then I am sorry, this is not the review for you. If you want to read a review that complains about other stupid stuff and yet still gives the film a fairly positive review, then you have hit the jackpot. Also, there is a monkeyman in this movie, and a CGI dragon. Just saying.

Dragonball the anime is about some dudes who spend 99% of the show charging up for the 1% where they fight and someone gets blasted only for them to fight next week after more charging up. It is the most popular show that has ever existed in the world. The movie decided to ignore the charging up and instead do some sort of “Find the Dragonballs!” plot. Fine with me. The film then basically becomes a low-rent Star Wars ripoff, or at least that same stupid farmboy mythology that everyone does. Sure, that legend has been around forever and Star Wars is known for borrowing elements wholesale from other myths itself, but all of those stories now just end up being compared to Star Wars, like it or not.


And where were the fistcams we were told about? I don’t remember any fistcams in the film. Maybe they realized it looked stupid.

Justin Chatwin does a good job with the normal teenager parts, but the sections where he is vowing revenge, questioning people about stuff in the dragonball mythology, or calling upon dragons to resurrect his master all come off as very badly acted. He just isn’t a good genre actor at this point, but he would be find chatting up some girl on 90210 or something.

Goku (Justin Chatwin) – Goku is the grandson of Master Gohan and your average American teenager who has a martial artist grandfather and is the heir guardian of a mysterious Dragonball that is sought by evil warlords. And he is secretly an evil monkey. Justin Chatwin is the annoyingly not-killed son from War of the Worlds. Here, he is less annoying.
Master Roshi (Chow Yun-Fat) – Master Gohan’s friend and mentor to Goku. Master Roshi is a creepy dude who enjoys some good porn and robots and being a slob. But he cleans up his act to teach Goku. You should know who Chow Yun-Fat is so I am not going to explain it.
Bulma Briefs (Emmy Rossum) – Bulma wants to use her father’s dragonball to develop a new energy source, but the dragonball is stolen by Mai and Bulma runs into Goku while tracking it down. Bulma Briefs was named by a guy, in case you were wondering. Emmy Rossum is enjoyable and graduated high school at age 15.
Chi Chi (Jamie Chung) – Chi Chi is not only a celebration of food, but is Goku’s love interest. She is a secret fighter and also a child of a super rich family and her parents are never around. Jamie Chung likes being on reality shows and drinking and driving. My wife was friends with her sister so that makes me totally famous! And we got cheesecake pics!
Lord Piccolo (James Marsters) – Lord Piccolo was trapped for 2000 years or some crap when he and a monkey failed to steal all the dragonballs long ago. They never mention how he escaped, nor how he got his zeppelin. Zeppelins are cool. Piccolo is green. James Marsters was on Buffy, but I don’t watch Buffy.
Yamcha (Joon Park) – Yamcha just shows up in the middle of the film as a semi-criminal guy who joins our heroes in chasing balls. Joon Park was a member of the music group g.o.d. in Korea.
Mai (Eriko Tamura) – Mai is Piccolo’s servent who just steals all these dragonballs and does other stuff while barely saying anything and looking like Bai Ling should have played the role. Eriko Tamura was in Heroes and the great film Surf School.


A narrator explains stuff to us, which I shall explain to you. A long time ago (2000 years) on this very planet, Piccolo, the warlord with the dumb name, and his ape sidekick Ozaru wanted to conquer the Earth. Some wizards trapped Piccolo in the center of the Earth, and Ozaru just up and vanishes. Since this was 2000 years ago, I am surprised Jesus wasn’t involved. Maybe he was one of the wizards, and that book of the Bible is missing because it was just too awesome.

The first rule is: there are no rules.

No, the first rule is: Anime sucks!

Dragonballz! Goku is the improbably named white grandson of his Asian grandpappy Gohan. Gohan is training Goku in the martial arts, specifically by the two fighting atop of clotheslines. Goku gets his butt kicked thanks to not using his Qi. Goku is a slacker. But despite him being a slacker, grandpa Gohan gives Goku a dragonball for his birthday present. The ball does nothing, but when with the other 7 dragonballs, it will grant the holder 1 perfect wish. As opposed to an imperfect wish, I guess.

Goku goes to Unitech High School, home of the Fighting TPS Reports! His bike is ran over by the local bully, Fuller. But Goku is sworn not to fight, so he doesn’t. He must also be sworn not to call the cops because this is totally destruction of property and seeing Fuller hauled out of second period chemistry in handcuffs would be even cooler than fighting him.

Piccolo is on his blimp blasting Chinese cities, and sending his Bai Ling wannabe henchgirl down to collect a dragonball from a woman who doesn’t even fight back. And the subtitles are completely wrong, according to my wife. You would think a green guy blasting cities in China from a blimp would make it on the news or something, but it doesn’t. I guess Lindsay Lohan was too busy getting into a fight with Perez Hilton or something.

There is going to be a complete total eclipse, because this movie takes place onn the same planet as Heroes where a solar eclipse happens all over the world simultaneously. The sarcasm is because that doesn’t happen, for those of you who aren’t getting what I am talking about.

Goku opens Chi Chi’s locker by using his Qi. Or Qi Qi for Chi Chi. She’s impressed and knows about Qi and stuff because she’s Asian and they all know about that. The next time you see an Asian girl, demand to know about her Qi, and see how quickly you get peppersprayed. That’s modern Qi. Goku then says Chi Chi’s name isn’t normal. Goku says this. It gets him invited to a party at her house that night.

Goku can’t get his hair to stay down. Most teenage boys have this problem, but not with their hair. Going to the party means he ditches his own grandfather on Goku’s birthday. Goku also takes the dragonball with him because the plot of the movie demands it. Chi Chi lives in a gigantic castle house because her parents are bajillionares who are also not home on Friday nights allowing her to have huge catered parties. Goku gets harassed by Fuller’s crew, but Goku still refuses to fight. He doesn’t refuse to dodge, and thus the bullies all beat the crap out of each other while trying to punch Goku. I have seen this type of stuff before but this and the later dodgefight with Fuller where Fuller ends up trashing his car are among the best version of this I have seen. My favorite part is when the one bully pours water in front of Goku instead of on him like normal bullies would do. Then when Fuller is attacking, at one point Goku SLIDES ON HIS HAIR while dodging Fuller. Hair slide fu, that’s a new one!

The car then completely falls apart, and since it sort of looks like Bumblebee from the new Transformers movie, screw that car. Goku and Chi Chi talk as couples slow dance and the music is some sort of techno remix of that “epic” music you hear on like every other movie trailer. In a world….where dragons….are balls….one man…will fight the system….for the girl he loves! Dragonball Evolution! Goku revelas he doesn’t know what happened to his parents, but Grandpa will tell him when he is 18, and he is 18 today. Except now Grandpa is getting a visit at home from evil people. Mai’s ninja stars are easily dodged, but Piccalo’s Emperor impression and Force grip aren’t, so Grampa has his chest crushed and his house crashed down on him. I guess Grandpa was secretly the Wicked Witch of the East as well! Remember, despite the use of a cloaked buy using Force powers, this isn’t ripping off Star Wars.

Goku feels a disturbance in the Force and realizes his grandpa is dying. Remember, not ripping of Star Wars. He runs home and gets some last words from Grandpa before his death. Gohan tells Goku to find Master Roshi. Also the dragonball is showing Goku images, sort of like those balls in Lord of the Rings. I guess there are not police or local authorities in this world, since Goku just buries his grandfather in the yard. Libertarianism run amok!

While milling through his wrecked house, he finds that Goku orange vest that he wears in the cartoon, and then some hot chick named Bulma Briefs wanders into the house. She has a gun. She’s looking for a Promethium Orb. Bulma and Goku have some painful dialogue exchanges, then declares his dragonball is her promethium orb. Since his ball has four stars and her ball has five stars, she realizes it isn’t the one she is looking for. You may go about your business. Move along.

Bulma tries to buy his ball, but then tells the story of how her ball got stolen by Mai (and somehow Bulma’s bullets when fired down a straight tunnel curve up to hit the back of Mai as she uses a rocket pack to escape. These must be the same bullets that killed Kennedy.

Bulma has a dragonball detector, so that will come in handy. They also namedrop DBE, which I guess is some Dragonball series. That was for the fans, so those of you who are fans are supposed to love the movie now. Don’t you love it? Of course you do. Bulma and Goku team up, forming the Goofy Name Brigade. Bulma has an ATV that fits into her pocket, so that is their ride. They head to city to look for Master Roshi. Goku can sense Master Roshi, because of the Force, but we aren’t ripping off Star Wars here. Bulma detects a dragonball, and they head to house.

If you have ever seen the semi-famous photo of an old chinese building by itself surrounded by a giant pit because a skyscraper is being built around it (the guy had some sort of pull) that is where Master Roshi lives. Goku and Bulma go inside, the film goes all Matrix as Goku knocks over some glass pebbles and picks up all but one in bullet time while bending backwards. This bad Matrix steal wakes up Master Roshi, who is Chow Yung Fat slumming. Master Roshi starts to beat up Goku, thinking him a thief. Goku tries to explain they just steal concepts from other films like Star Wars and The Matrix, and explains it by having the movie rip off the Matrix right now as Roshi does the bored blocking thing to Goku, and Goku does the flying up in the air in slow motion thing when firing some Qi with the Shadow Crane Strike or whatever (which instead hits Bulma.)

Goku is an idiot.

They stop fighting and Roshi learns Gohan is dead. Roshi also has a dragonball, while Piccolo gets another dragonball that was in a lake. That’s easier than introducing more peripheral characters. Now Goku will get training as they go looking for more dragonballs, so Goku has to carry lots of stuff on his back and do headstands and other things totally NOT stolen from Star Wars.

They head to an ancient martial arts training area…which was a secret and is now filled with all sorts of random yahoos practicing marital arts. What is this, the Starbucks of martial arts training? Chi Chi is one of the random yahoos, so she and Goku talk for a bit about how she is a secret martial artist.

Bulma has picked up a dragonball signal! They drive towards it, but drive into a hole in the road! Holy hole! A Korean surfer dude is at the top, because it is his hole, and he wants money to get them out. Yamcha is his name, digging holes for money is his game. As they sit in the hole, Master Roshi tells a story about 2000 years ago with Piccolo and Ozaru. Seven mystics banded together to cast a spell to imprison Piccolo, and Ozaru will come back during the eclipse. Eclipses are jerks!

Bulma gets the signal of a dragonball underground, so Roshi gets Yamcha to drill for them by trading away some of the future profits of the dragonball energy system Bulma wants to make. In Piccalo’s airship, Piccolo makes a new Power Ranger monster out of his own blood to send to fight Goku. I guess that is easier than fighting him yourself…not! The dragonball is in the underground land of Mordor or something, there is lava everywhere.

Oh no, the ball is on the other side of the lava! The Power Ranger monsters attack them. If they chop up one, each piece grows into new monster. It is the Sorceror’s Apprentance of Power Ranger Orcs! Goku gets an idea and makes a bridge of monster bodies. This is partially creative, so B+ for these dragonballs. Goku hops on over, grabs the ball, gets a vision and a message about how the power to prevent the destruction of the world is inside him (not as catchy as “Save the cheerleader, save the world”, but it will do in a pinch) then the dragonball is immediately stolen by Mai! But Goku beats her up and takes it back.

How did Mai get on the other side? Then how did the rest of the group get on the other side, as they are all there, AND the monsters have all burned up?! This film is not fixed in what you would call reality!

Only 2 days until the eclipse and no time to get all the dragonballs, but there is another way to stop Piccolo…

Ernie Hudson out of nowhere! He is Sifu Norris, and Master Roshi gets him to make another containment vessel for Piccolo. Sifu Norris, right.

Chi Chi is fighting in her martial arts tournament, her opponent is Mai, who cuts her on the arm to get a blood sample then forfeits the match. Later, Chi Chi and Goku talk, while Bulma and Yamcha also talk and almost end up together. Roshi is teaching Goku how to do the air bending technique, the kamehameha (that must be Hawaiian for “The Force”. Soon Goku will be able to bend it like Beckham, but first he must light several torches with the kamehameha, which shoots fire. Goku is failing, until Chi Chi gives him incentive. The torches are lit (due to the Force) then blown out (due to the Force) as the lovers kiss.

Bulma hears a noise, but it is just chi Chi leaving Goku’s bedroom! Damn, in a PG-13 rated movie? Except it isn’t Chi Chi, as Goku is like “huh?” It is Mai in disguise! And she has the dragonballs! But fake Chi Chi has to fight real Chi Chi, so it is Chi Chi vs Chi Chi. Is that Chi Chi Chi Chi? Chi^2^2? So Goku picks the wrong Chi Chi to fight, and gets shot over his error.

Goku being half dead lets him see his grandpa for a bit, and then Roshi brings him back via lots of Force energy or that thing Mr. Miyagi does or something.

Let’s go to the Dragon Temple! You know, over by the Southpark Mall in Moline, Illinois. Behind the Denny’s. The heroes race to the Dragon Temple in Yamcha’s jeep. He drives off the side of a cliff…luckily, he went to 2015 Hill Valley and has a hover conversion done, so the jeep flies in the air with rockets in the tires.

I wish I could just freely steal from other movie franchises and make my own film…

Piccolo and Mai stare as the seven dragonballs float in the air, and I resist making jokes about how they have never stared at that few balls before… Roshi and Piccolo blast energy at each other. Balls go flying, hover-jeeps go crashing, containment pots go tumbling, and Goku puts on his orange vest for some reason. It just feels like orange vest time!

Piccolo goes “By the way, Goku, you are Ozaru!” So Goku turns into a monkey guy! Well. Okay. Ozaru chases after Yamcha and Bulma, who managed to grab one of the dragonballs, while Roshi fights Piccolo. The two masters go all Force powers on each other with the dragonball movie’s signature koolaid swirl effects coloring everything up. Piccolo blows up the containment vessel, so I guess he ain’t gonna be trapped like no ghost!

Then Ozaru chokes Roshi dead.

The first time a monkey has choked a guy…


Goku goes…I don’t wwant to be a monkey anymore! and turns back to human. It is evolution in action!

Goku and Piccolo blast energy at each other. Huh, I wonder if Goku’s blue energy and Piccolo’s red energy’s colors were chosen for a reason. A popular science fiction franchise reason…

They blast at each other and crash through rocks and stuff. Like other rocks. Meanwhile, the girls are shooting at each other as Mai tries to get the dragonball that Bulma has, but Bulma throws her pocket car at Mai, only to lose the fight later and is about to be shot when Yumcha shoots Mai in the back. Take that, mysterious girl who barely said anything!

Goku realizes he must accept he is Ozaru and also Goku. Yin and Yang, you see. Then Goku gets all supercharged and blasts through Piccolo’s supercharge, defeating Piccolo. Next up, Oboe the Destroyer. But Roshi is still dead, so they take him to the Dragon Temple and Goku yells out for the dragon to come out. It is pretty hilarious because it is badly acted compared to the rest of the film.


The good Imoogi from D-Wars shows up and breathes life back into Master Roshi. Hey, you could have wished for both Roshi AND your grandfather to be alive! But just Roshi. What about Master Roshi and Grandfather both alive AND holding Tootsie Roll pops AND sacks of money. No imagination.

Now the dragonballs are gone, so they have to find them again. Stupid dragonballs, where the crap did they go? But first Goku must kiss Chi Chi. Because. Then they fight to see who is the best fighter, because DRAGONBALLZZZZZZZZZZ!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rated 7/10 (Monkey stars, Energy, bully, stare instead of fight, fantasy Chung, Dragonball #6, Time to fry Skywalker)


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Written by Tars Tarkas

Tars Tarkas

Runs this joint!