Staring – Justin Chatwin, Yun Chow Fat, James Masters, Emmy Rossum, Jamie Chung and more…
Premise: Based on the famous Japanese manga and anime series by Akira Toriyama, this live action rendition centers around Goku, a young martial artist, an ancient legend about an evil destructive alien named Piccolo, and seven Dragonballs that if gathered together would summon the dragon Shanglong (sp?) and grant the summoner one wish.
Review: I’ve followed Akira Toriyama’s works for twenty plus years and have read/looked at all the Dragonball manga as well as watched the 200+ episodes of Dragonball and the 200+ episodes of Dragonball Z, even watched a chunk of Dragonball GT. I’ve also seen many anime turned into Live Action films and I’ve seen the mutations they go through and those not always pretty.
That being said, this wasn’t half bad! While all the characters from the early Dragonball days did not make an appearance (basically all the non-humans except Piccolo and one other (which I won’t mention as it would be a spoiler), they kept pretty much everyone else and even left them their names intact. No Pilaf, but we got his ship and Mai (dang she kicked ass!). Got the Dragonball Radar, though it looked more like PDA, even got Capsule Corp and a capsule or two, though these worked more like Transformers than encapsulated dimensional spaces.
The fight at the beginning between Goku and his grandfather Gohan was a blast. And the Dragonballs themselves were utterly wicked looking! Legends got tweaked, Piccolo’s way of making minions altered (and sadly they made that part so dark you never could get a good look at those guys! and they were tall! lol), but the essence of everything was still there, which was fab.
Goku was way less naive and clueless than I was used to, which was a shock, but then he wasn’t quite as isolated in the movie as in the series. Yun Chow Fat was awesome as Master Roshi though I wished they’d given him at least the glasses if not the turtle shell, but he did have the bright shirts and the lecherous attitude, so that was something.
The special effects and martial arts were decent. Some of the basic elements on the chi powers seemed to shift, but again nothing major. The Kamehame Ha was in there and that’s the most important thing! 😛 And we do see Shanlong summoned – though theirs does not compare to the anime/manga’s in scope or flashy theatrics.
Still, overall, it was a cute, fun little film. Lots of little details and bits from the characters and series the fans love, even the cities being made a little more futuristic to fit the manga Dragonball world. If you’ve not been exposed to DB at all, there’s less to get in the way as all items are explained and explored sufficiently for the non-initiated.
There’s even a nice Japanese song in the end credits. And make sure to sit through them as there’s a little extra something at the very end.