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.Overall, it wasn't received very well, being generally panned by critics and seen by most Dragon Ball fans as a prominent example of Adaptation Decay. Dragon Ball's creator, Akira Toriyama, also expressed some frustration with the final result, feeling that his input had been ignored by the producers, and told Dragon Ball fans to regard the film as an Alternate Universe. According to The Other Wiki, the movie grossed $30 million worldwide on its opening weekend, not quite covering its (variously reported) $30 million to $100 million budget.Has a tie-in video game.Not to be Confused with Dragon Ball The Magic Begins or Dragon Ball: Fight for Victory, Son Goku!.
Adaptational Wimp: Goku. In the cartoon 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 cartoon, but which takes him all of the movie to get the hang of.
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.
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.
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 ChasteWild 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. Amd 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.
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.
Race Lift: In the original, everyone was vaguely Japanese. In this movie, the two leads are white and everyone else is Asian.
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.
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 creepy old dude who told you stories about aliens called Nameks, you'd get picked on too.