Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Review: Dragonball Evolution

I grew up watching this show, sort of. And I admit, that during the time I was watching Dragonball Z, I wished for a live action movie.

Luckily, or unluckily for us, a live action Dragonball movie came out under the moniker "Dragonball Evolution" on April 10, 2009 (aka 6 days ago)

The movie is roughly based on the original Dragonball series. Not to be mistaken for Dragonball Z. Although both Dragonball and Dragonball Z were written by Akira Toriyama.

Dragonball Evolution was directed by James Wong (Final Destination, The One, Final Destination 3). The Screenplay was written by Ben Ramsey (The Big Hit) and James Wong, and it was produced by Stephen Chow (Shaolin Soccer, Kung Fu Hustle) and James Wong.

I don't want to ruin the plot for those of you who have yet to see this movie, and still plan on watching it. Although, I'm willing to bet that most of the people who actually watched this movie, are/were fans of Dragonball/Dragonball Z. And If you haven't seen the movie, and you are a fan, nothing should be a surprise to you in the movie...or should it?

Lets start with some of the characters:

In the original Dragonball, the story in which this movie was based off
of, Goku was a little boy, but for Dragonball Evolution, they made Goku, and everyone else his age (Chi-Chi), 18 year-old high school students.

Goku, the main protagonist of the Dragonball series, is played by Justin Chatwin (War of the Worlds, The Invisible). I honestly know nothing about this guy. He looks like he should be in a Green Day tribute band. I haven't seen War of the Worlds, and I haven't seen The Invisible either. But judging from his performance in Dragonball Evolution, he's an average actor, at best. I don't think this role was for him for several reasons. I'm not going to name all of them, but I will name two:

1) The original Goku (Manga/Anime) is very naive, and not cocky at all. Goku is in fact, good natured. Justin Chatwin's Goku is slightly emo, and socially awkward (in the worst way possible).

2) He's WHITE.

Bulma is played by Emmy Rossum (The Phantom of the Opera, The Day After Tomorrow).
Much like in the original story, Bulma and Goku team up to collect all
seven dragonballs. I have not seen The Phantom of the Opera, but I did see The Day After Tomorrow. Honestly, I hated The Day After Tomorrow. She's a very attractive girl, and plays the part of Bulma well enough. Bulma is very adventurous and temperamental, and Emmy Rossum portrays those traits very well.

Yamcha is played by Joon Park. Joon Park is a Korean singer/actor. He used to be in, the now disbanded K-Pop group, g.o.d.. He actually graduated high school in California, so his english is very good. He had a cameo in Speed Racer, but other than that, he's a nobody in the US.
Much like in the manga, Yamcha is a thief. Joon plays Yamcha decently, but I never really liked Yamcha, so he isn't going to get much love from me. I have one problem with Joon as Yamcha though. I know it's not his fault, or decision, but Joon's Yamcha has blond highlights. Joon is Korean. He has black hair. Yamcha has black hair. They couldn't just give Joon's Yamcha black hair? Whatever. At least he's asian.

Master Roshi, played by Chow Yun-Fat (Hard-Boiled, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), is a wise martial arts master. He's also a perv. Let me just say, I like Chow Yun-Fat as an actor.
Yes. He's had some questionable roles (i.e. Bulletproof Monk), but I've enjoyed almost all the movies I've seen with him in them. Chow Yun-Fat played the "old, wise martial arts master" part well. He's had roles like this before, duh. Play the part of a pervert though, is a whole new ball game. When an anime character is perverted, it's not much of a surprise. I mean come on, no offense, but lots of weird stuff has come from Japan. But when live action Roshi starts acting perverted, it's just weird. Roshi is also supposed to be really old. Chow Yun-Fat is old, but he doesn't look like an "OLD, wise martial arts master."

Grandpa Gohan is played by Randall Duk Kim (The Matrix Reloaded, Kung Fu Panda). Much like in the manga/anime, Grandpa Gohan, finds Goku, and adopts him. Although, in the original story, he doesn't really train him to fight. Also, Grandpa Gohan is killed by Goku in the original story, when Goku turns into a giant ape (Oozaru), although this is not the case in Dragonball Evolution. I like Randall Duk Kim, so seeing him as Grandpa Gohan wasn't too bad. I don't know much about Grandpa Gohan anyways, besides the fact that Goku names his first son after him.

Piccolo is played by James Marsters (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). I don't know anything about this dude, except that he played Spike on Buffy. I was very curious as to how they were going to portray/cast Piccolo. Basically Piccolo is your typical villain. He's hell bent on destroying the world. I hated Dragonball Evolution's version of Piccolo. He looks like a villain from Star Trek. Also, this Piccolo should not be confused with the Piccolo from Dragonball Z. The DBZ one is Piccolo Jr., and eventually becomes a good guy.

Last but not least, Chi-Chi, who is played by Jamie Chung (Real World: San Diego). I guess she really wants to get into acting. Chi-Chi is Goku's love interest and I guess she plays that part well? I have to apologize for the picture above. The picture of Anime Chi-Chi is inaccurate. This picture is from Dragonball Z. The Chi-Chi from Dragonball, is supposed to be a kid. I don't really have much to say for Jamie Chung's Chi-Chi. She's hot?
She's not bad.

So we covered most of the characters in the movie. Overall, there were no Oscar worthy performances. But that was to be expected.

I did not enjoy this movie. I thought Goku was annoying, and found Piccolo to be very stale, and not menacing at all. I understand it's very difficult to cover a whole manga/anime series into 84 minutes, but I think they could have put more effort into making this story more true to the manga/anime then they did.

After watching this movie, I took back my wish for a live action Dragonball movie. Too late for that though, right?

I have created an "official" rating system. A panda scale of 1 to 5. 1 being AWFUL and 5 being AWESOME.

I rate Dragonball Evolution 1.5 pandas:


Cecil said...

hahah awesome! thanks for the review. i knew it was going to be bad, but at least my suspicions were confirmed. also, how is master roshi not bald?

augo said...

AHHAHAHAH wheres the pandas from... also why did you watch this..

jahen86 said...

emmy rossum = HAWT!!
you're right, jamie chung is not bad either

how did you create the panda ratings??? thats awesome

AdamChang said...

-SO many things about this movie that are inaccurate.
-Panda scale is based off my logo that I designed last spring for my web design class.
-How could I not watch this?! (BitTorrent)
-I created my rating system on Photoshop.

Daniel said...

I enjoyed it. It's for kids, much like the original manga was. One look at the character names in all of toriyama's stuff and you know he wasn't taking himself too seriously either (Raditz?! Vegeta?! Bu/ Bibidi/ babidi? )

Josh Lieberman said...

I like how you state one of the biggest disappointments with this movie is that Goku is "WHITE"

and yet, your rating system is measured in "pandas".

AdamChang said...

Leiberman! Long time no talk!
I mean no offense to white people.

But imagine if they made a live action "Doug" movie, and they cast John Cho to play Doug Funny.
Even I'd be offended!

Josh Lieberman said...

Hey Man
Yeah it's been a crazy long time.

I was just kiddin, i just thought it was funny. (Especially the idea of having half a panda).

And regarding the live action Doug movie, we should get Will Smith to play Skeeter.