Film: Dragonball Evolution

An American Live-Action Adaptation of Dragon Ball. The trailer can be viewed here.

Goku is a young high school student who must battle the evil space overlord Piccolo and retrieve the Dragon Balls in order to stop Piccolo's massive ape servant, Oozaru. Along the way, Goku loses his grandfather and meets an inventor named Bulma, a martial arts master named Roshi, and a bandit named Yamcha.

Has a tie-in video game.

Not to be Confused with Dragon Ball The Magic Begins or Dragon Ball: Fight for Victory, Son Goku!.

This movie provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Chi Chi and Bulma, though the latter is a Faux Action Girl when it comes to her gun.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • Bulma is briefly able to keep up with Goku and point her gun at his head even when he uses his speed.
    • Mai. In the anime and manga she was an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, while in the film she's much more efficient (even if she does end up being a total Anti-Climax Boss) and also much more evil.
    • Oddly enough, the Kamehameha Wave itself. In the series the wave was an extremely powerful energy attack limited only by the user's power, but that was it. In the movie the wave can do basically anything. It's shown putting out and lighting fires, as well as somehow healing a character from near death.
    • Yamcha who isn't as prone to defeat and actually landed the finishing blow on Mai.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • Goku. In the anime and manga he was a One-Man Army who was bulletproof, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and could easily outfight a tank. In the film, he's... well, not. He also has problems with the Kamehameha, a move he figured out after seeing it used one time in the anime and manga, but which takes him all of the movie to get the hang of.
    • Piccolo. In the anime and manga, Goku was almost killed by Piccolo once and only defeated him after having most of the bones in his body broken. In the movie, he goes down from a single punch.
  • Alternate DVD Commentary: A riff provided by TeamFourStar of the Dragon Ball Abridged series.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The movie ends with the main characters heading off to look for the Dragon Balls again.
  • Anti-Climax: Piccolo creates several creatures to fight the heroes. It takes the heroes about 10 seconds to defeat them. Then, Mai shows up. She takes another 3 seconds.
  • Ascended Extra: Mai was originally just a minor character who was a henchwoman to second-rate villain Pilaf. She also becomes an Adaptational Badass.
  • Badass Grandpa: Gohan.
  • Badass Normal: Yamcha and Bulma, though they do almost nothing of consequence compared to Goku.
  • Beam-O-War: Sort of.
  • Beta Couple: Yamcha and Bulma.
  • Blood Magic
    • Piccolo creates creatures from his blood.
    • Mai steals a sample of Chi-Chi's blood to take her form.
  • The Call Knows Where You Live: Poor Grandpa Gohan.
  • Cleavage Window: Although Mai mostly has adequate protective gear, she leaves her chest unprotected. Huh.
  • Composite Character: Goku and Chi-Chi could just as well have been called Gohan and Videl.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Goku hops across a lava flow by using Mook bodies as stepping stones. Granted Goku is Made of Iron but his friends, who aren't standing too far from the lava themselves, are not.
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: Mai is chasing Bulma and about to deal a killing blow when Yamcha shoots her from behind. A deleted, alternate version of that scene actually has her impaled by shrapnel, but still taken out by Yamcha.
  • Dangerous Sixteenth Birthday: Grandpa Gohan dies on Goku's 18th birthday.
  • Deadly Dodging: When Goku is confronted by a couple of bullies at the big party, he informs them that he promised he wouldn't fight them - before smoothly allowing the bullies to beat the crap out of each other and the head bully's very expensive car.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Goku has a conversation with his grandfather after Mai shoots him with a ray gun and leaves him near-death.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Bulma
  • Designated Girl Fight
    • In the only tournament fight shown, Chi Chi is fighting Mai. These are, most likely, the only two female participants. They later fight again, when Mai has taken Chi Chi's form.
    • During the final battle, Bulma must fight Mai alone for the Dragon Ball.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The last shot of the film shows us that Piccolo has survived Goku's attack and is now being nursed back to health by a woman who's life he spared earlier in the film.
  • Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: Most of the bullies use the usual assortment of punches you'd expect from untrained jocks. The one Asian in the group, though, adopts a fighting stance and tries to use a flying kick.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: True to the source material, Oozaru is a giant monkey.
  • Fighting from the Inside: After being transformed into Oozaru, Roshi, with his dying breath, manages to get through to Goku and get him to change back to his old self.
  • First Girl Wins: Chi Chi for Goku.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Goku is choleric, Yamcha is sanguine, Roshi is melancholic and Bulma is phlegmatic.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: Mai has a scene that's all in (subtitled) Japanese.
  • Guns Akimbo: Bulma. Shame she misses everything she shoots at.
  • High School A.U.: In stark contrast to the source material, where Goku is mostly uneducated, Goku's high school life actually plays a fairly significant part in the movie's first act.
  • Hydra Problem: The minions Piccolo creates with his blood will spawn from any piece of them cut off. Goku beats them by throwing them into lava.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: At the beginning, Goku cares more about dealing with bullies and getting with Chi Chi than with his kung fu-ing, which is a complete 180 to the source material, where Goku cares only about fighting and can barely comprehend the fact that he's engaged to Chi Chi without her sitting him down and explaining it to him.
  • In Name Only: The movie has some elements in common with the original manga, such as the presence of Goku and a girl named Bulma who are in search of the seven Dragon Balls. But nearly everything else is heavily modified from the original canon. Goku went from a twelve-year old Chaste Wild Child to a sixteen-year old negative High-Schooler who wants to get with a girl. He learns the Kamehameha too late, and is too serious to even be considered the same character. Krillin, a highly important character in the original, was cut out (While Oolong and Puar may be understandable). Bulma and Mai go the other way and Took a Level in Badass. It was declared Canon Discontinuity by Toriyama.
  • Invisible to Normals: Ki attacks, which is why the presence of ki masters like Grandpa Gohan and Muten Roshi goes unnoticed by the rest of the world. Again, this is in contrast to the source material where (prior to Dragonball Z's Cell Saga) the world is well aware that ki is a real thing.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Bulma tries this with Mai.
  • Jerk Jock: One of the guys who bullies Goku at school.
  • Kamehame Hadoken: Naturally, given the movie is an adaptation of one of the Trope Namers.
  • Kids Are Cruel: The Jerk Jock who tries to run Goku down with his car.
  • Large Ham: Master Roshi and Piccolo.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Goku and Bulma have a confrontation when they first meet. Goku thinks she's the one who murdered Grandpa Gohan, while she thinks he stole her "Promethium Orb" (Dragonball).
  • Little Miss Badass: Chi Chi.
  • Necessary Drawback: Roshi tries to seal Piccolo again, even though it sucks out his life force. It doesn't work.
  • No Sell: When Mai takes on Goku, she lands a solid punch to his face. Goku doesn't seem to notice.
  • Not What It Looks Like: All Goku can say when Roshi catches him in his house.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: When Chi Chi reveals that she knows of the existence of ki and states that her name doesn't mean she's an idiot, Goku proceeds to embarrass himself this way.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: In lieu of Krillin, Yamcha and Bulma get this treatment.
  • Plot-Induced Stupidity: Piccolo is shown crushing a house with his mind. Later, when a Dragon Ball rolls out of his grasp, why doesn't he mind-grab it?
    • It also doesn't make any sense as to why he dropped a house on Gohan instead of questioning him about the Dragon Ball.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Let's face it, the original Dragon Ball manga and anime would be just too damn weird to make into an American film.
    • Though that's something like Fridge Logic since the Dragon Ball anime -has- been shown in the US for quite some time. While one could say that it might be too goofy for the mainstream (though there are goofy movies like The NeverEnding Story or Beetlejuice that made it to the mainstream), the only reason one would make a DB movie (as opposed to some other non-branded martial arts flick) would be to cash in on the name recognition.
    • Roshi in particular played up his "goofy mentor" role and played down his "perverted old man" personality. He still has his porn stash and managed a PG rated feel-up on Bulma, but requesting a Panty Shot would be a bit too much.
      • Observant tropers may have noticed his t-shirt, with a sexy anime girl in it.
    • There's also the fact that the original Dragon Ball anime and manga were very "animated", and wouldn't work too well in live action. Doing an animated film of some kind would've worked much better. The series itself had been very popular in the US for almost a decade beforehand, though doing a film while the series was popular would've been a better idea (it was past it's prime in 2008).
    • While a lot of details of the story are basically unfilmable in a mainstream live-action film, the fact that the story changes characters personalities so wildly is one of the things that keeps it from being accepted. Adaptations of american comic books change details often to make the story flow better (such as the Spider-Man movies making his transformation a result of genetic engineering, as opposed to radiation), but the personalities and motivations of the characters are kept largely consistent.
    • Not to mention, as seen in Man of Steel, it is possible to make a live action film 'animated' if one is willing to put the time and money into it. And Dragon Ball has always been popular even when it was going through its slump as seen with Dragon Ball Kai.
  • Race Lift: In the original, everyone was vaguely Japanese. In this movie, the two leads are white and everyone else is Asian.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Goku's kept changing color after his transformations into Oozaru form.
  • The Reveal: It's no real shocker to those who are DB fans but Goku and Oozaru are one and the same.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Piccolo is originally bound up in a jar, but escapes offscreen.
  • Sequel Hook: See And the Adventure Continues and The End... Or Is It?
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Dragonballs have the added ability to make Goku see horrible things if he touches them. For bonus points, the old master (Roshi) wraps it in cloth to prevent this.
    • There are actually a TON of references to the original series including (but no limited to):
      • Goku makes mention of a race called "Nameks".
      • Gohan finding Goku in a crater.
      • Goku eating a large chunk of meat off the bone.
      • Goku being forced to train while wearing a large, heavy backpack.
      • Goku's bike resembles the one Gohan rides in the opening to several episodes after the Cell saga.
      • Speaking of, Goku's entire high school schtick early in the film resembles Gohan's Saiyaman arc in the anime.
      • Goku's hair: while preparing for the party (where he confronted the bullies), he spends some time styling it only to have it snap back into exactly its normal form, complete with sound effect.
      • Piccolo's ship looks like one often used by Emperor Pilaf.
      • Piccolo giving life to creatures from his own body.
      • The World Martial Arts Tournament.
      • Roshi's collection of porn.
      • Roshi's (mildly) pervy behavior.
      • Roshi's terrible hawaiian shirts.
      • The jar Roshi attempts (and fails) to seal Piccolo in.
      • The wish being used to revive Master Roshi.
      • Bulma's capsule cars.
      • Chi Chi's house resembling a giant castle.
      • A quick reference to "chi chi" being Japanese for "boobs" ("Just because my name is Chi Chi doesn't mean I'm an idiot"). In the manga, Master Roshi goes off muttering at one point about how the name Chi Chi would be better suited for the larger-chested Bulma.
  • Spot the Imposter: Goku had to do this when Mai disguised as Chi-Chi fights the Real Chi-Chi. He ends up knocking the real Chi-Chi out and only realizes his mistake when he sees the cut on her arm that Mai had inflicted on her during their earlier match.
  • Stock Scream: Partway through the movie Chi-Chi defeats a Wilhelm during her training.
  • Stock Subtitle: "Evolution".
  • Stock Footage: Paying close attention during Goku's "premonitions" whenever he acquires a Dragon Ball reveals that the movie uses a fair amount of stock footage. Examples include Armageddon and Independence Day.
  • Swiss Army Superpower: The Kamehameha Wave, for some reason. In the source material it was purely an attack move, but in the movie we see it light and extinguish fires, and even heal a person from near death.
  • Total Eclipse of the Plot: Goku and the gang must acquire all the Dragonballs before an upcoming solar eclipse, when Oozaru will return and join Piccolo. When said eclipse appears, Goku transforms into Oozaru.
  • Tournament Arc: Averted; it looks like the World Martial Arts Tournament, but it has a different name, Goku doesn't fight in it, and it's barely shown.
  • Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World: The first chunk of the movie is focused on Goku's conflicts with school bullies. If your name was Goku and you lived way the hell outside the rest of the city with some old dude who told you stories about aliens called Nameks and ki powers that no one else can see, you'd get picked on too.
  • Word Salad Title: Dragonball Evolution.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Surprisingly averted, as Bulma in the original story was conspicuously a blunette. In some scenes she's got one lock dyed blue, likely as a nod to the original.