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Dragon Ball Super: Broly

db super broly poster

Dragon Ball Super: Broly

The first movie under the Dragon Ball Super umbrella is one that sets out to take what was previously non-canon and adapt it into the main series. The most recent two Dragon Ball Z films; Battle of Gods and Resurrection ‘F’, ended up being the start of Dragon Ball Super which is now well over 100 episodes into its own series and several volumes of manga as well. It was last year that the series took a pause, seemingly coming to an end, only for this feature to be announced soon afterwards. Over the summer it was revealed that the subject of the film would be the infamous Broly, a character created for the prior Dragon Ball Z films that is either a fan-favorite or fan-hated character, depending on who you ask. In that universe, Broly was the featured villain of three separate films, and according to this humble blogger only one of those three films was any good. Broly is simply an all style and no substance villain. He’s big, mean, and powerful, but he has no real motivations beyond wanting to annihilate the hero of the series, Goku, whom he despises because he made him cry when the two were infants. Yup, you read that correctly.

Finding out that Broly would soon be adapted for his fourth film and presumably brought into canon left me with mixed feelings. Those feelings quickly shifted to positive ones though as what reason did I have to really doubt series creator Akira Toriyama? Broly already had the look, and aside from the reason for hating Goku being quite lame, the rest of his origin was fine. There was enough of a skeleton there that could be fleshed out into something worthwhile. And after doubting that there was anything left in this franchise, I’ve been proven wrong time and again by the last two features and basically the entirety of Dragon Ball Super. Toriyama, and those working with him, seem to have a handle on what sets this world apart from others. It’s the humor, as well as the action, that makes it go. The series can’t stop to take itself too seriously, or else it will betray what it is. Anchoring the series on the Goku and Vegeta characters is also fan-service at its best. It’s their differences as characters that works so well. It meant taking away most of what once made Vegeta a villain, but Dragon Ball Super has managed to make him likable and understandable without also softening him too much.

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Broly is re-introduced in this one as canon with a tweak to his base design.

Before I go any further, it is worth pointing out just where this film follows in the grand scheme of things. If you’re like me and have been following Dragon Ball Super via the dub that airs weekly on Toonami then you’re going to have some things spoiled for you. This film takes place after the events of Dragon Ball Super so far, so it’s after the Tournament of Power which has yet to officially begin. If you watch the Japanese dub of the show, then no problem as you saw the finale almost a year ago. For us just watching on a standard cable package, it means having the events of that tournament some-what spoiled. And I mean that very loosely as the setup for that tournament is that all of the universes who lose are destroyed. I don’t think any viewer expects the universe inhabited by Goku and his friends to be wiped out and have the story end there, so the fact that this film even exists is only the most mild of spoilers. The film doesn’t go into any detail about how that crisis was resolved, so I didn’t feel particularly spoiled by anything. Only the fate of one character would really count there, so if you want absolutely nothing else spoiled you may want to stop here as I can’t really discuss this film without mentioning that character at least in passing. There’s your final warning.

king vegetas court

King Vegeta’s court where Paragus is informed on the fate of his son.

Okay, with that out of the way we can freely talk about Dragon Ball Super: Broly! This is a review, not a synopsis like I did with my DBZ movie feature from last summer, so I don’t aim to spoil anything pertinent to the film beyond just going over the general plot and setup. If you’re a longtime fan, you’re probably most curious about how this new Broly (Vic Mignogna) equates with the old. He’s a different character, but it is also largely the same. The film begins several years before the present day when planet Vegeta was still a thing. In addition to seeing the early days of Broly, we’re also treated to something previously untouched upon and that’s the transfer of power over the universe from King Cold (Jason Douglas) to his son, Frieza (Christopher Ayers). It’s fun seeing that acknowledged, though it’s not particularly thrilling. Broly himself though is soon introduced as a baby, and like the prior Broly, he seems to have incredible untapped power. King Vegeta (Christopher Sabat) appears jealous that this child rivals his own infant son, also Vegeta (Sabat), and it may explain what he does next.

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The flashback also contains a brief look at young Goku in a somewhat touching scene.

Like the prior Broly, this one will find himself banished from planet Vegeta. His father, Paragus (Dameon Clarke), suspects the king did it out of jealousy, but the king claims he did it out of fear over what Broly is capable of. A power so terrible cannot be controlled and he could destroy them all. It’s hard to say what the truth is, but Paragus refuses to see his son exiled to a barren world alone. He steals a spaceship and chases after him all while swearing revenge on the king who did this to him and his son. We also get another peek at Goku’s father, Bardok (Sonny Strait), and even meet his mother, Gine (Emily Neves). It retcons the events of Bardock’s solo film a bit, and also shows us a softer side to the character which provides some context for how Goku (Sean Schemmel) came to be so different from other Saiyans. We also get to check in on a toddler Vegeta and Radditz, which is amusing, and see the destruction of planet Vegeta from another angle. There’s even a mention of a brother to Prince Vegeta that I was not aware of. I don’t know if that’s mentioned at all in the episodes I have not seen, or it could be a hint at something to come in a future movie or series.

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The design for Broly’s father, Paragus, is also still in-line with his old portrayal only now he’s aged up. He’s also still a dick.

After the lengthy setup, the film jumps to the present day and finds Goku and Vegeta sparring. They’ll soon find out that Frieza is up to not good, and his stealing of the Dragon Balls from Bulma’s (Monica Rial) lab is what sets the plot in motion. That will get all of our main players to Earth, including a now fully grown Broly and his father, where the action takes place.

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Goku and Vegeta showing off their trendy new winter duds.

To no one’s surprise, the majority of this film is action as the two heroic saiyans take on Broly. Broly is depicted as actually kind-natured this time around, but his power drives him mad. It’s a subtle change from the previous version we’ve seen, but it’s handled far better and this character actually has meaning. He’s a sympathetic character, much more so than before, and one the audience isn’t necessarily instructed to root against. His design is only a little different from his old one, but he has a slightly more refined look. There’s some grit there as well and he actually looks like someone who has lived his whole life in exile. He’ll find some sympathetic characters which help add to his story, and overall I think he’s a fine addition to the cast this time.

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Vegeta demonstrating his mastery of the Super Saiyan God form.

The action is the main attraction, and after the slow-paced opening I am happy to report that no action was spared as a result. This is a meaty film, and by its end you may even start to feel exhausted. It keeps upping the visual ante along the way though, so it never gets boring. New tricks are unleashed, some more abstract than others. My favorite was a first-person camera in the middle of the fight that really pulled me in. It sounds like a gimmick, but it worked really well to see the lightning-quick action unfold from such a perspective. It was also tastefully utilized, so it didn’t overstay its welcome. There’s plenty of big spots, and also some rather brutal ones. Nothing is gratuitous though, and overall if you’re a fan of action this is one satisfying and spectacular film. There is also less emphasis on fan-service this time around when compared with the last two films. There’s no effort to get all of the old gang back together and the cast is actually fairly trim. This one simply has a story to tell and a battle to feature.

dbs goku blue

The film is visually stunning, but there are moments where I felt like I was watching a cut scene from Dragon Ball FighterZ.

The film is still mostly done in 2D with digital hand-drawn animation, the design of which was handled by Naohiro Shintani instead of Tadayoshi Yamamuro who has done virtually all of Dragon Ball previously so all of the characters have a slightly altered look to them, though I wouldn’t go so far as to say they appear off-model. Those hand-drawn parts are delicious for the eyes and Dragon Ball has never looked better. The movements of the characters are so fluid and sharp, and the slightly muted color palette is reminiscent of the manga more so than the actual anime. Vegeta’s battle suit, in particular, uses a more navy color than a bright blue and Goku’s orange gi is just slightly pale. This being Dragon Ball, there’s also lots of bright greens and blacks and some cute character designs amongst the villains. There are instances of obvious CG, most noticeably when space ships are shown. It’s also still used in battles, but it’s less of a distraction than in past films. There are still times though when I felt like I was viewing a cut scene from a video game as opposed to an anime. I wouldn’t go so far as to say those moments were jarring, but the hand-drawn stuff is just so flawless that I wish they just tried to stick with that as much as possible.

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Arctic settings are among my favorites in Dragon Ball. The brightly colored characters just look great against a cool backdrop.

The music composed by Norihito Sumitomo is also quite bombastic and in-time with the visuals. Some of the main themes, in particular Broly’s and a character I won’t mention by name as it would constitute a spoiler, include a chant in the song where the name of the character is spoken. It further adds to the fighting video game feel of some of the visuals and I’d consider it ludicrous if this were any other property save for maybe Mortal Kombat. It manages to add to the spectacle of everything. Also, some old favorites return though it’s worth mentioning this movie doesn’t feature an opening credits scene like the old ones. I kept waiting for it to pop-in, until I realized it wasn’t coming. It’s probably for the best, though I did kind of miss it.

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If you’re looking for some of the old Broly you know (and love?) you’ll get that here as well.

Ultimately, I was left feeling like seeing Dragon Ball Super: Broly on the big screen was very much a worthwhile experience. This film was designed for that setting, and I really enjoyed my time with it. I was surprised to find it actually showing at quite a few theaters in my area, and further surprised to find many shows sold out. Thankfully, I was planning on seeing this alone as I couldn’t find two seats side-by-side anywhere. The machinations of the plot are pretty contained so if you haven’t bothered to watch Dragon Ball Super you shouldn’t have too much trouble getting into this and and figuring out what’s going on, so don’t let that be an obstacle. If you ever cared about Dragon Ball, then you owe it to yourself to catch it on the big screen.

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Dragon Ball Z Movie Wrap-up – The Rankings

teaser gokuWell I hope you’ve enjoyed the summer feature this year at The Nostalgia Spot – Dragon Ball Z Movie Monday. We’ve taken a look at all 13 original Dragon Ball Z films in chronological order, run-through their plots, dissected what they did well and not so well, and now we’re going to rank them. It should be noted that this ranking is going to be rendered obsolete in just a few short months as on the way is the first Dragon Ball Super movie:  Broly! Yes, Broly. He’s coming back for a fourth movie appearance, but this time it’s different. Those Dragon Ball Z films he was in are technically not canon. Yes, series creator Akira Toriyama designed the character of Broly and the general back story, but he was never intended to be a “real” character, so to speak. With the 14th and 15th DBZ films, things started to change. Both Battle of Gods and Resurrection ‘F’ are now canon and were adapted for Dragon Ball Super. Since Toriyama is involved with Broly, it stands to reason that this will be an all new version of the Legendary Super Saiyan and for the first time ever he’ll be an actual part of the overall Dragon Ball plot.

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Broly’s coming back, whether you like it or not.

That’s all well and good, but before we can even think about that movie we need to sort out these other 15, of which 3 feature Broly. The core 13 are what we covered this summer, but I had taken a look at the two most recent films previously and made entries about them. Even though their plots are now part of Dragon Ball Super, they were released as Dragon Ball Z films so it feels right to include them in the rankings. Hopefully the first Dragon Ball Super movie will challenge the best of these, but for now, this is what I think of the fine fifteen:

Goten urinating

Lets kick this one off properly!

15. Broly – Second Coming – It’s kind of funny the first film on my list just so happens to feature the character of Broly. If this version of Broly were returning for a fourth feature, then I would be disappointed. Broly was fine in his film debut, but his return engagements saw the warrior reduced to an even more mindless fighting machine. Broly – Second Coming also stars Trunks and Goten, and it feels like maybe they weren’t ready to anchor a feature. Gohan makes his presence felt in the film’s third act, but he can’t rescue this one. Broly – Second Coming is perhaps the most dull, with the biggest rule-breaking ending, and is thus my least favorite. It’s not without some charm, so I hesitate to call it flat-out bad, but it will be a long while before I revisit this one again.

cooler surprised

Maybe this was a bad idea.

14. Cooler’s Revenge – You will probably notice a trend amongst these bottom entries. The movies that just feel like one long fight do little to entertain me, and Cooler’s Revenge commits the sin of having Goku get taken out immediately only to sit on the sidelines for a large chunk of the film’s duration. No one wants to sit and wait for Goku to show up – not Cooler, and certainly not the fans. And the fights that do occur in this picture aren’t very engaging, but we do get some fireworks from Super Saiyan Goku and the transformed Cooler. It’s also his connection to Frieza that helps move this one past Broly – Second Coming.

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Not the best?! I don’t want to hear it!

13. Lord Slug – Similar to Cooler’s Revenge, this one also has Goku get taken out for a large portion of the film. Unlike with that film though, there’s not a great reason for that to happen. Yeah, he gets hurt a bit, but it doesn’t seem like the type of injury that should knock Goku out of commission for such a long time. Anyways, Lord Slug gets to move past Cooler because at least there’s some interesting visuals here. A lot of fun backgrounds and the enemy designs for Slug’s henchmen are interesting as well. I also think the fight between Slug and Goku is a bit better than the one with Cooler, even if it features that goofy half Super Saiyan thing from Goku. This is also a film I look at and can envision it being better than it is with just a few tweaks here and there.

Bio Broly trunks goten

Swamp Thing got nothing on Broly.

12. Bio-Broly – It seems like this film is most often cited as the worst DBZ film and I can see why, on the surface, that would be the case. It returns Broly, but in an even weirder form than before that’s somehow even more mindless. There’s no Goku, Vegeta, Piccolo, or Gohan, and overall the stakes are possibly the smallest they’ve ever been. On the other hand, Goten and Trunks get another crack at being the stars and they’re more entertaining here than previously. There’s a good balance of nuanced humor with the childish brand that sometimes rears its head and we also get a good dose of both Mr. Satan and Android 18. Perhaps best of all, there’s no silly rule-breaking ending involving the dead Goku this time and in the end we get a film that’s perhaps not super engaging, but it makes up for it to some degree with humor and charm.

13 trucker hat

Trucker hats rule.

11. Super Android 13! – Another extended battle movie, but this one ups the excitement by adding yet another Super Saiyan to the mix – Future Trunks. We also get more androids, which at this point in time felt a little like overkill since we already had five in the main series, plus Cell. Still, the android villains kind of work and given how secretive Dr. Gero was it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that he’d have even more waiting to awaken. It’s just too bad they all have the same general programming of needing to kill Goku. For the English dub, Funimation actually took some liberties and gave Android 13 a little personality. It wasn’t much, but it was something. The fights are generally satisfying, though the resolution kind of “meh.” More than most, this one is all about spectacle.

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Dragon Ball Z Movie 6 – The Mega Powers Explode!

10. The Return of Cooler – Cooler gets to improve upon his debut by pairing up with a super computer and gaining a shiny, new metallic body. Vegeta also gets to debut in a DBZ film as a Super Saiyan, and for the first time ever, he and Goku team-up to take on Cooler. There’s actually some semblance of a plot here and it’s not bad. There’s a little mystery, and if Funimation didn’t decide to go with such an obvious title the actual re-debut of Cooler would have come as a surprise. The film just kind of loses me in the final act. It’s no Spirit Bomb attack at least, but it is kind of odd.

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In this one, Goku fights a tree.

9. The Tree of Might – If this were a ranking of best looking Dragon Ball Z films then The Tree of Might would be a contender for the top spot. It hits the sweet spot between the very soft, round look of Dragon Ball and early Dragon Ball Z while also bringing in more definition. The characters are all muscled-up and impressive looking, the special effects mesmerizing, and the battles don’t move at a super-sonic pace. More interesting enemy designs, the debut of Icarus, and even a Giant Ape fight! The actual plot is just what holds everything back as a planet devouring tree hardly seems like an interesting adversary. And then there’s the confusing Turles and the lack of a really great fight involving him. If Goku and Turles were able to wage an all-out epic battle then that probably would have vaulted this one up the list, but instead it settles close to the mid-point of our list.

dead zone gif

Oh yes, that’s the good stuff!

8. Dead Zone – It’s rather appropriate that the debut film, Dead Zone, is right in the middle. I consider it a good measuring stick for all of the DBZ films. It has a simple, but effective plot revolving around the kidnapping of Gohan and a villain out for revenge and immortality via the Dragon Balls. That villain is Garlic Jr., who gets to follow a typical villain mold for this series in that he’s not imposing to look at, but he’s hiding a monstrous transformation. The fight choreography is top-notch and probably the best the series had. Watching Goku dodge the blade attacks of Garlic Jr’s minions is easily the film’s most fun visual. There’s also the odd drunk Gohan sequence that’s pretty amusing by itself, and we even get a pee joke. The film kind of falls apart in the final act, a common occurrence sadly for these films. We’re teased a Goku vs Piccolo fight that never gets going, and Garlic Jr. is defeated in a very anticlimactic fashion by Gohan. Basically, Gohan powering up alone pushed Garlic into the Dead Zone? I don’t know, it’s still a lot of fun though.

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Legendary Super Saiyan? More like Legendary Cry Baby.

7. Broly:  The Legendary Super Saiyan – Broly peeks on our list at number 7, which isn’t half-bad (literally). His debut film was the longest at the time totaling over 70 minutes and it utilizes its time well. It moves at a methodic pace teasing the emergence of Broly and then devotes a sizable portion of its run time to the actual fight. Where it stumbles is with its odd handling of Vegeta and, stop me if you’ve heard this one before, the resolution to the actual fight with Broly. His defeat just feels cheap. I don’t know what would have worked better since they kind of wrote themselves into a hole considering how powerful Broly is, but surely something better could have been utilized. Nonetheless, it’s still fine and this is how a Broly film should function where the plot revolves around him, but doesn’t necessarily require him to do much aside from just being there. The other characters move the narrative and provide the context. Oh, and his origin is great aside from why he hates Goku. I think that aspect of his origin was supposed to be funny, but it just doesn’t fit here.

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You wanna get nuts?! Let’s get nuts!

6. The World’s Strongest – The second DBZ film still feels a bit like an odd duck. It is somewhat rooted in the spirit of the original Dragon Ball, and bringing Master Roshi back into the fold is certainly welcomed by me. The sci-fi nature of the plot is slightly out of place for Dragon Ball Z, but less so when you consider some of what was featured in Dragon Ball. If the villainous duo of Dr. Wheelo and Dr. Kochin were given ties to the Red Ribbon Army then they would have felt right at home. Like Dead Zone, it gets a lot out of its visuals. The fight choreography is again top-notch, and the big finish with the Spirit Bomb works since it hadn’t been done before. I love the arctic location and the humor infused into it. Even the whole premise of the film, a couple of long dormant scientists mistaking Master Roshi for the strongest fighter in the world, is pretty amusing and the Metal Gear-like Dr. Wheelo is certainly an interesting opponent from a visual perspective. This is just another fun DBZ movie that moves at a brisk pace and is able to squeeze everything that’s charming about early DBZ  into it in a satisfying manner.

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When a god asks for pudding you give him pudding!

5. Battle of Gods – The return I had no idea I cared about. Battle of Gods both resurrected Dragon Ball Z as an anime brand and launched Dragon Ball Super. It introduced the God of Destruction, Beerus, and his godly attendant Whis who have become some of my favorite characters across all of Dragon Ball. Beerus is not only an all-powerful god, but a cat. We’ve seen cat creatures before, but Beerus is able to subtly weave in cat-like behavior into his mannerisms that’s so entertaining. The film also brings together basically everyone from DBZ as far as the earthlings go, and it’s heavily reliant on comedy. So much so that it comes at the expense of action, which is where some fans seemed to be let down. That and Goku’s Super Saiyan God form was fairly underwhelming. Still, what action is present is solid and the film looks fantastic when it’s not trying to use CG effects.

bjoack group shot

Some cool guys and Yamcha.

4. Bojack Unbound – The first movie that did not try to rely on Goku, Bojack Unbound put Gohan in the spotlight in a bit of rehash of his fight with Cell and the awakening of his Super Saiyan 2 powers. It could have been a bit lame, but it’s anchored by some character development that works and the introduction of one Mr. Satan who never fails to be amusing. The entire film takes place on an island as the Z fighters have entered a tournament for riches. There’s plenty of humor to be found at the expense of both Mr. Satan and Krillin, and also plenty of action. The part of the film I liked most was the little peak at a post-death Goku Vegeta, who is essentially depressed about the loss of his rival. The film maybe could have been better if that had been its primary focus, but instead it chose to just make that a small piece. The actual villain, Bojack, is kind of boring to be honest, but we get a good series of fights out of him and his minions. It’s also fun seeing the Super Saiyan 2 moment rehashed, and the film just looks fantastic.

vegeta cries

Tears in Hell.

3. Fusion Reborn – Probably not surprising, but a film that spends quite a bit of time devoted to exploring the relationship of Goku and Vegeta is going to rank high on my list. These films often don’t go for character development, instead choosing to just capture the essence of the main characters and sticking that on-screen. For Vegeta, that typically means you just get a cocky jerk who is only fighting because he wants to be the one to defeat Goku instead of the villain of the moment. In this one, both fighters are dead, and they need to not only team-up to stop the Buu-like Janemba, but literally become one fighter via fusion. Vegeta can’t stand the thought, but Goku proves persuasive. The two seem to develop an understanding of one another and have a bit of a quiet reckoning leading up to the big moment, and it’s very rewarding and very sweet. In addition to that, the movie combines impressive visual flair with a ton of funny bits including Goten and Trunks taking on a resurrected Hitler. This one distills the qualities of the Buu Saga that I actually like into a tidy 52 minutes and it’s arguably the most “fun” of all the Dragon Ball Z movies.

goku vegeta bicker

Play nice you two.

2. Resurrection ‘F’ – The most recent film may actually be the only one more fun than Fusion Reborn and that’s because it’s very much a fan-servicey kind of movie. It brings back Frieza, the most hate-able of all of the villains, for another round. Now he’s powered-up to a new form, but so are his chief rivals Goku and Vegeta. Debuting their new Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan (Super Saiyan Blue, for short) forms, the two Saiyans are basically on equal footing for the first time since their inaugural fight way back on Earth during the Saiyan Saga. In addition to watching them pummel Frieza, we get to see the other, lesser, fighters square off against Frieza’s minions including Master Roshi! Krillin shaves his head, Gohan gets angry, it’s basically all here. Beerus and Whis also return and they’re just as amusing as before and the film’s visual style is truly stunning. This may be the best looking DBZ film so far as it dials back on the crude CG from Battle of Gods. I think I still prefer The Tree of Might’s look to this one, but it’s close. Ultimately, this one works because we get to see that jerk Frieza get bested once again, and Vegeta even gets a little revenge. It also further adds to the Goku/Vegeta dynamic in a worthwhile way, something that Dragon Ball Super will continue to explore.

tapiotrunks

This is a sweet one, right up until a child is asked to execute his buddy.

1. Wrath of the Dragon – I guess when it comes to these movies, I’m more of a “plot guy” than an “action guy.” Wrath of the Dragon doesn’t feature a ton of fighting, but it does spend a long time on the quieter things. I enjoyed the introduction of Tapion and his story, and seeing a different side of Trunks felt very rewarding. We’ve seen Goku take on all kinds of crazy beings, so it was nice for a change to just spend a lot of time looking at a character that’s mostly been underserved by both the films and the series. It gives the film a different mood. It’s a bit sad, but also endearing, and it still packs in some moments of triumph. Some of the early plot machinations are a bit silly, and the almost total absence of Vegeta felt puzzling, but Wrath of the Dragon still manages to tell the best story of all 15 films and that’s primarily why I placed it here.

In truth, the top 5 films felt pretty interchangeable for me. Bojack Unbound is really watchable because of the action pieces, while Battle of Gods feels the most dense because of all of the new lore introduced. Fusion Reborn and Resurrection ‘F’ bring a lot of humor and silliness to the table, making both very re-watchable, while Wrath of the Dragon just seemed to strike a nice balance for me. Hopefully, the upcoming Broly can match the best Dragon Ball Z put out. It’s basically guaranteed to look amazing, and I’m sure we’ll get some flashy action sequences no matter what. I’ve had fun revisiting these films. I never held a high opinion of them, but I think I had more fun with them now than I did when I was younger and a bit more cynical. They are what they are and they exist simply to entertain for 45 minutes or so (and make money) and as long as they don’t betray what the series stands for then that’s good enough for me.


Dragon Ball Z: Bio-Broly

DBZ_THE_MOVIE_NO._11Japanese Title:  Super Warrior Defeat!! I’ll Be The Winner

Original Release Date:  July 9, 1994

English Release Date:  September 13, 2005

Directed by:  Yoshihiro Ueda

Screenplay by:  Takao Koyama

Running Time:  46 minutes

Well, I hope you wanted more Broly following the last movie, because he’s back again. Breaking a tie with Cooler, this movie marks Broly’s third appearance in a Dragon Ball Z feature and it also means 3 out the last 4 movies all featured him as the main antagonist. When we last saw Broly (Vic Mignogna), he was getting blown up by the combined might of Goku, Gohan, and Goten. How could he have survived a triple Kamehameha? Well, he didn’t, and another person from that film is responsible for Broly’s return here.

DragonballZ-Movie-11-Bio-Broly5BBD5D5B1080p5D5BAAC5D.mp4_snapshot_00.55_5B2016.04.16_16.52.295D

Dr. Collie and Mr. Jaguar, our enemies for today.

The movie opens at a lab where a cackling, obviously evil guy, named Mr. Jaguar (Bill Townsley) is enjoying the specimens his team of scientists, led by Dr. Collie (Christopher Sabat), has produced for him. He plans to use them to take over the world or something, but also mentions how he wants to go after Earth’s hero. The camera lingers on one large tank containing a humanoid creation, and a tail flickers into the picture to let us in on a not so subtle secret about who inhabits this particular environment.

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The bio-men won’t be winning any beauty pageants.

After the intro song, we’re taken to Satan City where Android 18 (Meredith McCoy) is attempting to collect payment from Mr. Satan (Chris Rager) for the events that transpired during the World Martial Arts tournament in the main series. In case you forgot, 18 was pitted against Satan in the finals and he convinced her to take a dive in exchange for riches. Before she can get the money out of him though, an odd fellow in a blue suede suit shows up, falls in the pool, and manages to get inside Satan’s mansion to issue him a challenge. Apparently Mr. Jaguar and Mr. Satan attended summer camp years back and he knows Satan’s dirty little secret – he once wet his pants! In order to keep this from reaching the press, Mr. Satan needs to accompany this guy, Men-Men (Jim Foronda) back to an island to face Mr. Jaguar, and since he failed to pay 18, she is going too. Goten (Kara Edwards) and Trunks (Laura Bailey), having been promised a big lunch from Krillin(Sonny Strait) once 18 gets paid, stow away in Men-Men’s flying car and head off to the remote island where Mr. Jaguar awaits.

Once they arrive at the island, Mr. Satan finds out he’s not to be squaring off against the diminutive little Jaguar, but against his Bio Men. These slimy, green and pink creations give him the creeps, and they’re also well beyond his fighting ability. Having no other recourse, he offers 18 more money to take care of them for him, and she’s happy to oblige.

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18 is more than happy to step in for Mr. Satan, provided he pays her.

Goten and Trunks, after having helped 18,  go exploring in the lab and find all of the Bio Men still growing in their oversized test tubes. Trunks, having a genius scientist for a mom, is happy to share that information with anyone who will listen and does seem genuinely interested in what’s going on. Goten notices one of the specimens has a tail, and the two check it out and are startled to discover that it’s Broly! He soon awakens, and Goten and Trunks flee in terror. They go to talk some sense into the scientists about Broly, and find the shaman Maloja (Robert McCollum) whom they exposed as a fraud to his village in the previous movie. It was he who scraped up some of Broly’s blood after his defeat and sold it to Jaguar. His scientists utilized that to recreate Broly as one of Dr. Collie’s bio-monsters. Goten and Trunks are horrified, and decide the only thing they can do is destroy Broly themselves.

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Broly was a bit fragile of mind to begin with, this can’t be good for his self-esteem.

It’s a good thought, but the duo’s combined attack on the tube only succeeds in freeing Broly. Enraged at the sight of the two young Saiyans partly responsible for his death, Broly goes on an unstoppable rampage. At first, he looks like his old self, but his body soon begins to deteriorate into a grotesque pile of slime with red eyes. He kind of looks like a combination of Mukman from the Mighty Mutanimals, complete with his yellow hair poking out of the goo resembling spent banana peels, and also kind of like the Tyrant from Resident Evil since both feature a glowing, red, heart. Broly immediately attracts the attention of 18, who gets flattened almost right away, and it falls on Trunks and Goten to take him out.

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The two Saiyans show promise when fighting as a pair.

Broly is apparently not as powerful in his bio state as he was in life since Trunks and Goten are able to go toe-to-toe with him, provided they attack in unison. The problem is, Broly has wrecked the lab all around him, and the weird purple goo that created him is seeping out. It’s acidic to all lifeforms, and Goten keeps getting pulled away from the fight to save people from certain death. Broly’s goo body also makes him seem invulnerable to real physical pain, and the boys are at a loss as to how they can destroy him. Trunks will figure out a plan though, and it involves utilizing his own buttocks in an antagonizing manner, but they need to also content with the the purple goo that threatens all of the island’s inhabitants, not just those in the lab.

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Even in this weakened state, Broly still packs a punch.

I am happy to say, there will be no Goku (Sean Schemmel) saving the day. Even Piccolo and Vegeta decline to make an appearance to bail someone out, though Krillin will show up to fight at some point. Instead this one rests entirely on the young shoulders of Goten and Trunks. After seeing them upstaged by Gohan in the last film, it’s kind of nice to see them get to shine on their own. Trunks will even utilize a Kamehameha attack along with Goten, and also what looks to be his dad’s Final Flash. Goku does make a very brief cameo right before the end credits, but it has no baring on the story, because apparently we can’t have a Dragon Ball Z movie without at least one appearance from Goku (Gohan, on the other hand, is completely skipped for the first and only time).

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Step aside Krillin, the kids got this one.

Bio-Broly is often cited as the worst movie in the Dragon Ball Z film-verse and I’m actually happy to report that it wasn’t as bad as I expected. It doesn’t look particularly great, having a quality more in-line with the show as opposed to the other movies. There’s some jokes that kind of miss, especially early, and the Mr. Satan stuff does feel a bit redundant at this point. I like that character, for the most part, so it doesn’t bother me that much and I like that it attempts to resolve a plot point from the show. Broly has definitely overstayed his welcome at this point, but at least he’s largely mute in this one and we don’t get any silly “Kakarot!” yells out of him. His bio form is rather lame looking, and you could argue the movie didn’t need him and the bio monster could have been anyone.

In the end, this isn’t my least favorite of the Dragon Ball Z movies. I like that it allows other characters to shine, not just Goten and Trunks, but 18 as well. It’s quick and tidy, but if I had one lingering piece of criticism is why did they have to title it Bio-Broly? If we didn’t know that Broly was incoming it would have actually given that moment a little more weight. It’s setup like a Hollywood thriller, and even the fight is resolved in a similar manner as seen in The Terminator, and spoiling the reveal like that just feels like a waste. Dragon Ball Z rarely gets to surprise, so that’s a missed opportunity. It’s not that big a deal though, and I look forward to reexamining this film in a broader light when I eventually set out to ranking all of this movies when this feature is concluded.


Dragon Ball Z: Broly – Second Coming

190px-DBZ_THE_MOVIE_NO._10Japanese Title:  The Dangerous Duo! Super Warriors Never Rest

Original Release Date:  March 12, 1994

English Release:  April 5, 2005

Directed by:  Shigeyasu Yamauchi

Screenplay by:  Takao Koyama

Running Time:  52 minutes

With Broly being an overnight sensation following his debut film, it was no surprise to see him turn up again. The problem with Broly though is that he’s all style and no substance. He’s motivated by his mostly irrational hatred of the one he calls Kakarot, whom we all affectionately refer to as Goku. He barely speaks and is essentially raw power unrestrained. Making things harder on him for his return engagement is that Goku is dead, so his boys are left to pick up the slack. Unsurprisingly, this makes Broly – Second Coming the first DBZ movie to not star Goku in some capacity. He may have been dead in our last film, but he still had a pretty commanding presence over the film. He makes an appearance in this one, but it’s definitely understated compared with the prior movie. This is also the first movie to not feature Piccolo, though there’s a joke at his expense in it. Another surprising stalwart of the movies, Oolong, won’t cameo either. And after appearing in the last four features, Vegeta will be a surprising omission here. It’s always tough to figure out when these movies are supposed to take place so it’s possible Vegeta is dead. Really, this movie and the next features a really small cast of characters and it’s anchored by the debut of Goten and Young Trunks. Lastly, it’s also the first to feature Dragon Ball Z‘s second theme song over the opening credits, the underwhelming “We Gotta Power.” We’ll miss you, “Cha-la…”

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A dying Broly crash lands on Earth. That’s some sense of direction.

The movie opens on an old but familiar sight – a Saiyan Space Pod zooming towards Earth. It smashes into the planet’s surface and from it emerges Broly (Vic Mignogna). Having apparently escaped the destruction of New Vegeta in just the nick of time, he’s in bad shape and the wound left by Goku is still open. He soon powers down from his Super Saiyan form and collapses into the snow, ice forming over him. He’ll lay there for seven years, and of course he’s just bound to wake up all kinds of pissed off.

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Kid Trunks, Videl, and Goten make their film debuts.

Videl (Kara Edwards), Goten (Edwards), and Trunks (Laura Bailey) are out hunting Dragon Balls. Videl is sporting her short-haired look so this movie takes place after her training with Gohan, meaning she can fly and fight a little. She apparently asked Goten and Trunks to tag along to aid in her search for the Dragon Balls since Trunks’ mother Bulma possesses the Dragon Radar. Trunks and Goten are a handful given that they’re just kids, and they’ll test the patience of Videl and also likely force her to question why she brought them along in the first place when all she desires is to just see the Eternal Dragon, Shenron.

Their search leads them to a small village in the mountains – Nataday. The villagers there are preparing for a sacrifice, a young girl is to be offered to some monster in order to spare their village destruction and misfortune. The sacrifice is the brainchild of the village shaman, Maloja (Robert McCollum) and Videl is disgusted by the whole thing. Other villagers share her views, and Trunks offers to take care of this supposed monster for them.

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The village shaman Miloja – he’s a dick.

Videl, Trunks, and Goten all hide in a nearby altar and wait for the monster to show. There’s an offering of food for the beast, and Trunks swipes some which just makes Goten jealous. Video instructs him to keep quiet and stay put, but when goes for an apple she slaps him in response causing Goten to cry. Goten is apparently an impressive cryer, for his howls reach Broly himself. Baring a remarkable similarity to the cries of his infant father, they’re enough to agitate and awaken Broly from his long slumber. In case you have forgotten, Broly is driven by his hatred for Goku whom cried a lot when he was an infant, and it bothered the infant Broly enough to scar him as an adult.

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They’re quite good at irritating Videl.

Videl, feeling bad for making Goten cry, apologizes and swipes a dumpling for him. Trunks laughs and lets her know she’s been conned by the diminutive Saiyan, which just makes her more frustrated and annoyed by the whole situation. Soon the monster shows itself to be a mere dinosaur (in case you forgot, dinosaurs exist in this world) and Trunks and Goten are unimpressed. They toy with the beast a little, before eventually returning to the village with its carcass. The villagers are overjoyed to see the beast has been slain, all except Maloja who is banished by the elders for his sacrificial methods. With that out of the way, the heroes are able to resume their Dragon Ball hunt.

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Broly has awakened!

The trio calls it a night, but a loud sound wakes Videl early in the morning. That sound is Broly, emerging from his ice prison and powering up to his Super Saiyan, but not his Legendary, form. Videl finds and confronts him and, not knowing who he is, tries to attack. Broly is far too powerful for her to handle though. Goten and Trunks soon awaken to the sounds of the fight and they rush to see what’s going on. They have no idea who Broly is, but Broly sees Goten and immediately is sent into a rage due to the child’s resemblance to his father, Goku. Broly is easily able to knock the two boys around, but during the fight they’re able to spot the last Dragon Ball. Trunks devises a plan where Goten is to retrieve the Dragon Ball while he distracts Broly. This is where the movie takes a silly turn as Trunks moons the Saiyan warrior while Goten also pauses to take a pee.

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When ya gotta go…

Goten is successful in retrieving the ball, but soon loses it amongst a bunch of crystal balls. Trunks is dismayed by his friend’s clumsiness, especially because he too really has to pee. He manages to avoid most of Broly’s most damaging moves, but eventually ends up in the arms of the monster when his bladder gives out. Goten does however manage to gather all of the Dragon Balls and he takes them behind a waterfall where he can safely summon the Eternal Dragon Shenron. Unfortunately, Goten realizes he doesn’t actually know how to summon the dragon and sits there perplexed. Trunks manages to retreat behind the waterfall too and doesn’t know how to summon the dragon either. They’re forced to confront Broly, who whips them around pretty well until their savior arrives in the form of Gohan (Kyle Hebert).

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Don’t worry kid, I got this.

Gohan had sensed the fighting, and unlike the other three, he’s faced Broly before and knows what he’s up against. Gohan is definitely stronger than he was when he faced Broly the first time, but he might not even be as strong as he was when he defeated Cell since this is Buu Saga Gohan before his training with the Elder Kai. He’s still able to power-up to Super Saiyan 2, but all that does is force Broly into his more monstrous Legendary Super Saiyan form. Broly is able to physically dominate Gohan in this form, but the resourceful Saiyan is able to break free of Broly’s hold and lure him into a nearby volcano where the lava engulfs Broly. Gohan collapses on a nearby rock as the lava inches closer to him. A caped warrior swoops in though to rescue him. Piccolo? No, it’s Krillin (Sonny Strait) dressed in Piccolo’s attire for some reason. I can only assume this is a metta joke for the audience since Piccolo often drops in unannounced to rescue Gohan in virtually every movie.

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Not what anyone was expecting…

The two share a nice moment, and then Broly returns. You didn’t really think lava could kill him, right? He’s surrounded himself with an energy shield and quickly takes out Krillin. Gohan is too weak and exhausted to offer much resistance, and Broly begins to torture him. He’s very much enjoying himself, until Videl tosses a rock at him. It doesn’t hurt him, but it does distract him and he turns to look as Videl collapses, the effort of just throwing a rock seemingly exhausting what little energy she had left. The sight of her falling enrages Gohan enough to tap into his reserves, forcing himself from Broly’s hold. Announcing he’d had enough, Gohan powers up to Super Saiyan and unleashes a Kamehameha attack against Broly, who counters with a blast of his own. The force of the attack knocks Goten’s bag over and the Dragon Balls spill out awakening the young child. He transforms into his Super Saiyan form and joins his older brother in firing a Kamehameha at Broly. Together, the brothers appear to be holding their own, but it’s still not enough. Goten then silently makes a wish that their dad was there with them.

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Broly has an answer for Gohan’s attack.

The Dragon Balls, apparently hearing Goten’s silent plea, flash and the skies darken. No dragon appears, but Goku does! He encourages his sons and powers up to his Super Saiyan form and joins his Kamehameha blast with theirs. And yet it’s still not enough! Trunks awakens as well and sends a last ditch effort Broly’s way. His blast is enough to sneak in behind Broly’s and throw off the timing of his own ki blast. Goku sees this, and implores his boys to give it their all. Their combined might overwhelms Broly, who cries out in pain as he’s blasted from the Earth and into the sun, seemingly gone for good (yeah, right),

Goku vanishes as quickly as he appeared, and Goten and Gohan are left to wonder if he was really ever there. The Dragon Balls seem to confirm that he was, as they’ve turned to stone and rocketed away. Videl awakens and admonishes Gohan for taking so long to get there, while Trunks remarks he wants a snack. They all set off for wherever, while poor Krillin remains where he was following Broly’s attack wondering if they’ve forgotten about him.

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The lasting image from this movie is at least a good one.

Broly – Second Coming, unlike the first film to feature Broly, is almost entirely reliant upon comedy for its entertainment value. There’s the little setup with the village before the main event, but the movie is fairly straight-forward in its execution like many DBZ films before it. I did appreciate the little bit of adventuring we saw early, and the visual of Goku joining his sons for a triple attack is surprisingly emotional, but the movie earns very little of the payoffs it tries to cash-in. Broly is even more one-dimensional than before, and he’s little more than a video game boss character. The repeated near-saves have become a trope, though at least the movie seems to poke fun at that with the Krillen rescue effort. The juvenile nature of the humor involving Goten and Trunks is sometimes charming, sometimes humorous, but hard to sustain a picture with. The arrival of Goku breaks all of the rules of the Dragon Balls, as Shenron isn’t properly summoned, never even appears, and also disappears after only fulfilling one wish. As much as I like the image of all three combining for an attack, it would have probably been better to just leave Goku out of this one. With him dead, it could have been an opportune time to have Piccolo stand-in considering he’s been a second father to Gohan, or even a more mature Vegeta finally stepping in and embracing his role as a father-figure for the younger Saiyans.

Adding to the tonal problems is a rather bland presentation. The backgrounds are kind of typical DBZ and don’t really offer up much. The visuals are more in-line with the main series as well and do not have that extra special ingredient that most of the films have. Maybe Toei knew this one wasn’t going to be as good as the others because of the lack of Goku and just didn’t sink as much money into the production as they normally would. It all adds up to a very subpar experience, and Broly – Second Coming just may be the worst of all of the Dragon Ball Z films. It has some inherent entertainment value, so I would still say watch it if you have never seen it, but it’s one you’ll only revisit out of a feeling of obligation or when you’re just sick of watching the other, better, films.


Dragon Ball Z: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan

Dragon_Ball_Z_Broly_–_The_Legendary_Super_Saiyan_(Movie)Japanese Title:  Burn Up!! A Close Fight – A Violent Fight – A Super Fierce Fight

Original Release Date:  March 6, 1993

English Release:  August 26, 2003

Directed by:  Shigeyasu Yamauchi

Screenplay by:  Takao Koyama

Running Time:  72 minutes

If there is an MVP of the Dragon Ball Z movies then it might be Broly by default. Starring in a record three films, Broly is the most over-exposed of the movie villains. Thankfully, he doesn’t appear in three consecutive films and there’s a film in between this one and his second appearance as three in a row really would have felt like overkill. Probably owing to his exposure, Broly has become a some-what polarizing villain among DBZ fans. He’s very recognizable and his appearance is striking so he has a tendency to show up across all media related to the franchise. He’s featured prominently in video games, toys, and other merchandise though he’s been kept out of the main series as well as Dragon Ball GT (or at least he was, until it was announced in July that he’ll be the featured villain in the upcoming Dragon Ball Super movie due to hit theaters in Japan this December). His status as the Super Saiyan of Legend gives him instant credibility to go along with his menacing appearance. He’ll never be as overpowered as he is here, nor will he ever be as interesting, but for a first appearance this one is pretty good. This is also the longest DBZ film thus far and will remain so until Battle of Gods. Most of these movies are kept under an hour, but this one is over 70 minutes and it feels pretty long as a result. Is it too long? Maybe, but we’ll get to that.

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Master Roshi enjoying himself during a picnic.

The film opens with King Kai (Sean Schemmel) sensing the destruction of a planet in the south galaxy. It’s an ominous piece of foreshadowing and I think it’s safe to say we’ll unravel the mystery of who’s responsible in short order. He reaches out to Goku (Schemmel), who is preparing for a school interview with his wife Chi-Chi (Cynthia Cranz). Chi-Chi is trying to enroll Gohan (Stephanie Nadolny) in a fancy school and needs Goku to be on his best behavior during the interview process in order to get him in. Goku has been forced to put on a suit and is clearly out of his element as Chi-Chi coaches him on the right things to say. She’s more than a little annoyed when King Kai starts butting in to fill Goku in on what’s transpiring in space.

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Paragus, along with his son Broly, claim to be among the few remaining Saiyans to survive the destruction of their home world.

Elsewhere, the rest of the Z Warriors are enjoying a picnic. Master Roshi (Mike McFarland) is looking pretty toasted as he makes a fool of himself. A spaceship touches down and a Saiyan male named Paragus (Dameon Clarke) emerges and immediately swears fealty to Vegeta (Christopher Sabat) who apparently wears his battle armor when attending a picnic. Paragus claims to be one of the last remaining Saiyans and informs Vegeta that they’ve settled on a new planet Vegeta (not to be confused with our Saiyan prince), and he wants Vegeta to rule them. There’s also a problem as the Super Saiyan of Legend has emerged and is wreaking havoc across the galaxy. Paragus needs Vegeta to take care of him, and Vegeta is ready to go. Vegeta, surprisingly, buys the story hook, line, and sinker and doesn’t even question how Paragus could be alive. The others are skeptical, and Gohan, Trunks (Eric Vale), Krillin (Sonny Strait), Master Roshi, and Oolong (Bradford Jackson) decide to board the spaceship and tag along.

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The quiet and docile son of Paragus – Broly.

Paragus takes the group to New Vegeta, a ruinous planet where the others await. Paragus introduces his mostly mute son Broly (Vic Mignogna), and Vegeta decides to take Broly with him to look for the Legendary Super Saiyan as he’s grown annoyed by his own son, Trunks, who has voiced his doubts about Paragus. Broly is a tall, somewhat lanky, black-haired man with a  soft expression. Paragus seems to suggest he’s not very powerful, but we’ve seen the title of this movie and we know better. As Vegeta and Broly search for the Legendary Super Saiyan, Trunks, Gohan, and Krillin explore the rest of the planet. They soon encounter the other inhabitants of the planet, a cute, small, race of creatures who have been enslaved by the forces of Paragus. They’re horrified by what they see, and Gohan jumps in to fight the slave masters. During the fight, Goku arrives via his instant transmission technique as he’s interested in meeting this Legendary Super Saiyan.

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When Broly powers up his hair takes on a purple, and eventually a blue, hue.

Back at the palace, Vegeta and Broly return empty handed. Vegeta is a bit annoyed to see Goku, but it’s Broly who really seems agitated. He begins to grow angry at the sight of Goku, forcing Paragus to raise his hand upon which a golden gauntlet shines. It seems to react with a tiara that Broly wears and the boy is soon calmed while Goku is puzzled. That night, Goku is attacked in his sleep by Broly. The two trade blows until Paragus arrives, calming his son once again with the device on his hand. As he leads Broly away, Goku begins to suspect that it’s Broly who is the Legendary Super Saiyan.

Paragus returns to his room and questions if his mind control device is malfunctioning, or if Broly is just becoming too strong. We’re then shown the origins of the two. Broly and Goku were born on the same day and were placed beside each other in the nursery. It was obvious to all that Broly possessed incredible power from birth, but the constant crying of Goku beside him basically drove him mad. King Vegeta, fearing what Broly would become, ordered the execution of both him and Paragus, but Broly proved hard to kill. He saved his father, and the two were exiled following the destruction of the original  planet Vegeta. Paragus has been using his mind control device ever since to keep Broly’s power in check, as without, he becomes lost in his own power.

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The Legendary Super Saiyan revealed!

Goku confronts Paragus about Broly, while Vegeta has decided he’d rather just head back to Earth. Paragus denies the accusations, but eventually the slaves see Broly and confirm that he is indeed the Legendary Super Saiyan for he’s the own who destroyed their home planet. At the sight of Goku, Broly is unable to control his rage. He breaks free of the mind control device and his power is unleashed. He bulks up to an outlandish size as his hair takes on the traditional Super Saiyan look and his eyes go completely white. A green aura envelopes him, giving his hair a slightly different tint to what we’re accustomed to seeing from the other Super Saiyans, and the battle is on.

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Probably the film’s most famous shot.

Goku and Broly battle, but Goku is overmatched. Trunks and Gohan join the fray, but Vegeta is too paralyzed with fear to do the same. He’s spent a lifetime hearing about the Legendary Super Saiyan, and views him as unbeatable (why he was so eager to find him early in the film isn’t explained, maybe he just doubted that the being could possibly exist). Paragus sees this as an opportunity to taunt Vegeta and fill him in on he and Broly’s backstory. This is Paragus’s way to get revenge against Vegeta’s father for nearly killing he and his son years ago, and as icing on the cake he reveals that a comet is heading straight for New Vegeta and will destroy them all.

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Vegeta finally enters the fray, but is just as helpless as the others.

The other Saiyans are having no luck against Broly, until Piccolo (Sabat) shows up with some senzu beans. Adding Piccolo to the mix changes the outcome little, as Broly is still just too powerful. Piccolo realizes they’ll need Vegeta’s help if they’re to have any chance, and he basically shames the proud warrior into action, though he’s just as successful as the others. Paragus tries to escape in a Saiyan Space Pod, feeling it’s probably best to let the comet kill his son, but Broly catches him. He kills his father by throwing the pod into the incoming comet, and he’s now free to set his sights on the others.

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A powered-up Goku and Broly clash.

Goku realizes the only way to destroy Broly is for the others to lend him their power to concentrate it into a super attack. I suppose it’s the same concept as a spirit bomb, but instead it requires the others to just give them his power directly. They all do as requested, even though they’ve all been beaten to a pulp themselves, but Vegeta is the lone holdout. Goku still doesn’t have enough power, and eventually Vegeta relents. Bathed in a tremendous glow, Goku is finally able to go toe to toe with Broly. The fight is brief, and he concentrates his attack into a single punch aimed at Broly’s abdomen. It was there Broly was stabbed and left for dead as an infant, and the impact of Goku’s fist causes the old wound to reopen. Broly explodes, and the remaining warriors round up the slaves and pile into the spaceship Piccolo used to reach New Vegeta. They all escape before the comet’s arrival. Goku teleports he and Gohan home, where an angry Chi-Chi awaits. Goku is able to recite his scripted interview responses, causing Chi-Chi to faint and allowing our film to end on the usual humorous note.

Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan makes good use of its long run time by bringing us along slowly. If not for the film’s title, the mystery of the Legendary Super Saiyan would probably be more satisfying, though it would probably still be fairly obvious that Broly is connected to the figure of legend. It’s an interesting setup though, and it’s different from what we’re used to as the heroes are whisked away to a new world and new location instead of having some alien invader come to Earth seeking Goku or whatever. I like the tragic backstory of Paragus and Broly, though the trauma inflicted upon Broly of a crying baby Goku is pretty stupid. I don’t know if Toriyama came up with that as it’s kind of in-line with his brand of humor, but it misses the mark. If they wanted a comical reason for Broly to hate Goku I feel like they could have come up with something better. If they wanted it to seem sincere, then they really missed the mark. The film also largely looks awesome, with some different backgrounds to take advantage. In particular, I really enjoyed setting of the picnic at the beginning of the movie with all of the cherry blossoms in the background. It would have been neat to see a fight unfold there.

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This movies takes an interesting look at Vegeta, that works in some ways and doesn’t in others.

The portrayal of Vegeta feels inconsistent and kind of off. Vegeta has always been the proud warrior, so it made sense to me why he would want to seek out the Legendary Super Saiyan. He welcomes a challenge, but he apparently also has respect for the myths and legends of his deceased people. He’s unusually quiet, and just goes along with Paragus, when I feel like he should have been more cocky and proclaimed himself the actual Legendary Super Saiyan. When Broly’s power is revealed, seeing him a puddle is really bizarre. I have no problem with exploring a different side of Vegeta, and in fact it’s something I really like about our next movie, but I think they took it too far and it feels like too much of a betrayal of who Vegeta is.

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This one features the film debut of Super Saiyan Gohan as well as Trunks’ long-haired look.

These movies have a hard time coming up with unique ways to end the conflict. It’s disappointing that this one basically utilized the same method as our previous film, Super Android 13!, with Goku borrowing a bunch of power in order to deliver a killing blow. The problem with this movie is that we have no even fights at all, save for maybe the very first, brief, encounter between Goku and Broly. A large portion of the film’s run time is devoted to the fight with Broly and it’s mostly a slaughter. He’s so effectively violent though that it remains engaging watching him decimate the heroes. It’s just disappointing that when Goku does power-up, he basically ends the fight with one blow. I would have preferred to see a more even matched confrontation that lasted some length of time, but oh well. The side-story with the enslaved race also felt rushed. It’s crazy that with the film running as long as it did that some stuff still felt under-developed, but I guess that’s what happens with a more ambitious plot.

Even with its problems, I still came out of this one really enjoying it. It’s one of the better Dragon Ball Z movies, and say what you want about Broly, he comes across as a legitimate villain with a cool design. He resembles the bulky Trunks from the main series, only he’s even bigger and isn’t penalized in the speed department by his massive physique. It’s kind of a novelty to see Goku dominated so convincingly, though the final outcome was cheap. As a result, it’s not surprising that the films would want to revisit Broly even if his demise seemed pretty damn final. It’s just too bad that the rematch is going to be a pretty underwhelming affair.


Dragon Ball Z: The Return of Cooler

DBZ_Movie06Japanese Title:  Clash!! The Power of 10 Billion Warriors

Original Release Date:  March 7, 1992

English Release Date:  August 13, 2002

Directed by:  Daisuke Nishio

Screenplay by:  Takao Koyama

Running Time:  46 minutes

Movie six, The Return of Cooler, is our first instance of a repeat villain and not the last. I suppose you could consider it the second, since by the release of this one Garlic Jr. had made his second appearance by showing up in the actual anime series. For the movies though, this is the second appearance of a villain. Cooler, fresh off of his defeat in movie five, is back for revenge and this time he’s joined by a star. And by star I don’t mean someone famous or important, I mean an actual star:  The Big Gete Star. Set on the planet New Namek, The Return of Cooler marks the movie debut of everyone’s favorite Saiyan asshole:  Vegeta. Since this one takes place during The Imperfect Cell Saga, Vegeta is in his Super Saiyan form so I guess he was just sitting out these movies until he was appropriately powerful. It was a bit odd seeing him left out of Cooler’s Revenge, given his history with Frieza, but I suppose it was better than seeing him pop-in just to get his ass handed to him (like Piccolo often does). Not to be overlooked is the film debut of Dende, the newly appointed Guardian of Earth. Strangely, this film premiered before Dende assumed that role in the series. It’s not a particularly huge plot point in the show, and it was being adapted from a manga anyway, but it’s still kind of odd to see that plot “spoiled” by a movie.

The film opens on New Namek where the Namekians enjoy a peaceful existence, much in the same way they did before Frieza’s arrival on their former home. A colossal, mechanical looking planet then comes into contact with the world. It grips it like a parasite, and the people of New Namek are helpless to do anything about it. On Earth, Dende (Laura Bailey) can sense what is happening to his former home, and not knowing what else he could do, he turns to Goku for help.

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This is the rare movie where Piccolo actually doesn’t get his green ass handed to him.

Goku (Sean Schemmel) is always willing to help out, and he and his friends hop into a Capsule Corp spaceship and head for New Namek. Apparently they do not anticipate there being a huge problem as joining Goku is Gohan (Stephanie Nadolny), Krillin (Sonny Strait), Piccolo (Christopher Sabat), Oolong (Brad Jackson), Yajirobe (Mike McFarland), and Master Roshi (McFarland). No explanation is given why such a large contingent needed to go, and they don’t offer up an explanation for why Goku didn’t just teleport to New Namek, but it helps to keep the comic relief on-hand, I suppose. Though Yajirobe? That guy never likes to leave his tower.

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A rather interesting crew.

When they arrive on Namek they find all of the people there have been enslaved by an assortment of robots. It’s not clear initially what it is the robots want from the Nameks as they’re just sort of being marched along, but obviously it can’t be anything good. The heroes spring into action, but find the robots are all pretty tough on their own. Goku goes off to confront their leader, leaving the others to take care of the underlings. Only Piccolo seems capable of matching the robots, but with the numbers greatly at their advantage, they eventually overwhelm him and the others.

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Cooler is back, whether you asked for it or not.

Goku is able to track down the leader and he’s shocked to find out it’s none other than Cooler (Andrew Chandler). When we last saw Cooler he was being blasted into the sun, which was apparently very successful as Cooler no longer has his body. Instead he’s a metal construct that takes on the form of Cooler’s fourth form, the one that resembles Frieza’s final form, as opposed to his more advanced form. As a cyborg, Cooler proves to be quite formidable. As Goku damages him, the Big Gete Star is able to repair him and even reforms complete limbs. Not only that, he learns from his mistakes and weak points in his body are further strengthened to prevent the same injury from occurring again.

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That’s a neat little trick.

With Cooler being as powerful as he is, Goku is forced to go Super Saiyan. Adding further insult, Cooler even lets him know he can also utilize the Instant Transmission attack removing one of Goku’s new trump cards from his deck. He’s able to take control of the fight and when it looks like Goku is about to bite the dust, the prince enters the fray.

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Goku is no match for Cooler on his own.

Vegetal (Sabat), claiming he’s here to make sure he’s the one who gets to kill Goku (or Kakarot, as he always refers to him as) so that we don’t mistake his appearance for charity. Despite seeing Cooler’s dismantling of Goku, Vegeta is still his usual arrogant self and he rushes headlong at Cooler. It doesn’t take much time for Cooler to demonstrate his superiority once more, and the two Super Saiyans are forced to do something neither ever wanted to do:  team up.

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Vegeta! This is no time for a nap!

On their own, Goku and Vegeta were unable to make much headway against Cooler and his new metallic form, but together they stand a chance. Knowing Cooler will just repair any real damage they inflict, they have no choice but to go all out and simply overwhelm Cooler with their combined attacks. It works, but the two warriors are totally spent and collapse onto the ground. To their horror, reinforcements arrive and dot the horizon around them. At first it’s just a few, then it becomes dozens, hundreds, thousands! And the reinforcements aren’t more of the robots that fought with Piccolo and the others, but copies of Cooler! Not ones to simply admit defeat, the Saiyans power-up as best they can, but predictably they’re defeated and taken as prisoners to the Big Gete Star.

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A little teamwork goes a long way.

Inside the star, the mostly unconscious Super Saiyans are strung up by a series of wires deep within the core of the planet. The star needs energy to power itself and it intends to snack on a pair of Super Saiyans. Cooler appears and can’t resist the usual villain trope of explaining how this all came to be, and what he intends to do from here. The star had found Cooler in space following his defeat at the hands of Goku. When it initially found Cooler, the Big Gate Star was a mere microchip. It fused with Cooler and began to grow. The chip and Cooler became one, and the Big Gete Star is essentially Cooler, whose remains are still intact serving as the hive mind of the whole contraption. Having really no other alternative, Goku and Vegeta power-up from their positions and Cooler has trouble absorbing all of the energy being output by the Super Saiyans. It overloads the system, freeing not only Goku and Vegeta, but the others as well who had been captured. All except Piccolo, who has been making his way to the Big Gete Star and gained entry, only to be confronted by a Metal Cooler.

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Eh, they’ve been in worse situations.

With the circuits overloading, Goku and Vegeta are able to attack the core of the star which is basically just Cooler’s mutilated head. He soon creates some giant monstrosity of himself and attacks. Vegetal slices off one of the Mecha Cooler’s arms, allowing Goku to unleash a mighty blast vanquishing Cooler once and for all. As the core dies, the Cooler attacking Piccolo explodes. He’s able to reunite with the others for an escape which needs to happen fast as the whole place is coming down. The whole planet disengages from New Namek and explodes in orbit. Before anyone has too much time to ponder their fate, Goku and Vegeta fall from the sky, a bit banged up, but alive. They’re able to revel in their victory while Vegeta makes a quick, offscreen, exit. He gets the last moment though as he’s shown fleeing in a space pod clutching the last remaining microchip from the Big Gete Star which he crushes in his fist.

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Cooler’s one last trick is some sort of mecha-version of himself.

Like the first appearance of Cooler, The Return of Cooler is a pretty straight-forward and briskly paced film. Unlike that one, the action here is pretty consistent. Since it takes place on New Namek, it’s not all that visually interesting since the original Namek, which New Namek is apparently a carbon copy of, was a pretty boring looking place itself. The interior of the Big Gete Star is at least a different look for the series, and the new robot designs are unique to this film and not repurposed from the show. Cooler, in his resplendent new form, looks rather “cool” and you can tell Toei spent most of their budget on making him look nice and shiny. I’m torn on if I would have preferred he be in his fifth form or this one, but that one lacks a mouth and I’m guessing the animators find this one is easier to work with and convey emotion through. The other characters also look great with there seeming to be a strong effort to make Vegeta look impressive in his debut. Lots of straight lines help evoke the feel of the later stages of the manga and anime and everything looks rather sharp. Cooler’s regeneration abilities are also pretty damn neat to watch and much more visually interesting than say Cell’s ability to do the same.

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Remind me again why Goku brought them along?

I’m on record as saying Cooler’s Revenge may have been my least favorite of the films so far. I didn’t find fault with the villain, Cooler, though in reaching that conclusion, I mostly just hated the execution. Even so, I wasn’t exactly eager to receive another appearance from Cooler. If we were going to repeat a villain though, he’s probably better than any of the ones that have come before him so far. A more popular repeat villain still to come is Broly, and he’ll even beat Cooler’s record by making a third appearance, and given a choice between those two I would probably give the edge to Cooler as being the better villain. It will be fun to revisit Broly in the coming weeks and see what my attitude towards him is now, but from what I remember I wasn’t super impressed.

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All in all, a nice film debut for Vegeta who looks exceptionally bad ass throughout this one.

The Return of Cooler is a much better send-off for the character and helps soften the blow of Cooler’s Revenge. It wasn’t necessary that Cooler get another try, but it’s not as if these movies are filled with classic villains so I don’t think we really missed out on anything. It’s good to finally have Vegeta in these films, even if his role is somewhat small from a character perspective, he’s just there to beat stuff up. He’s mostly a glorified cameo in these movies, with perhaps one exception, but I’d rather he be in them than not. And since the anime resisted having Goku and Vegeta pair up it’s pretty neat to see it here in a movie. And that’s mostly what these movies do best is give us a taste of something the anime didn’t get a chance to do.