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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.

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!.

This movie provides examples of:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Schizo Tech
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Piccolo is originally bound up in a jar, but escapes offscreen. Subverted, sort of, when Roshi later tries to trap him again, Piccolo fights his way out.
  • 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: of the Wilhelm variety.
  • 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 creepy old dude who told you stories about aliens called Nameks, you'd get picked on too.
  • Word Salad Title: Dragonball Evolution.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: 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.

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alternative title(s): Dragon Ball Z Evolution; Dragonball Evolution
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