The story is that Emperor Chiaotzu of the country of Mifan is looking for his doll wife "Ran-Ran" and sets up a tournament at the advice of his advisor Shen to locate the Dragon Balls. Goku and Krillin are invited to said tournament and the gang are roped up in a grand journey of martial arts, treachery, and adventure.
The movie is a condensation of the Red Ribbon and 22nd Tenkaichi Budōkai, but in an entirely different setting and with several twists to the stories of both.
This film provides examples of the following:
- Adaptational Heroism: General Blue, here called Lieutenant Blue, is depicted as a loyal servant to the emperor who has his best interests at heart.
- Adaptational Wimp: In an aversion of Authority Equals Asskicking, Emperor Chiaotzu doesn't show any martial arts or psychic abilities in this continuity.
- Advertised Extra: Arale only gets one action scene before she promptly disappears from the plot. Granted, it's an important action scene, but still.
- Alternate Universe: The events of this movie are entirely secluded to this film alone.
- Ascended Extra:
- Chiaotzu went from a part of the ensemble to the freakin' emperor!
- Bora gets significantly more screentime than he did in the Red Ribbon Arc.
- A Child Shall Lead Them: Chiaotzu is the very young emperor of Mifan.
- Compressed Adaptation: While the setting is unique, the movie takes several elements from the Red Ribbon Arc and 22nd Tenkaichi Budōkai Arc, stitching them together to create a unique, yet similar story.
- Covers Always Lie: The American VHS cover shows Goku with his monkey tail, despite him not having it in this movie as Puar cut it off in the previous movie to end his rampage as a Great Ape.
- Death by Adaptation: Shen actually has Pilaf, Shu, and Mai killed in this continuity!
- The Ditherer: Tien is in a position where he struggles to choose a side between Shen or Chiaotzu.
- The Dragon: General Tao to his brother, Master Shen.
- Evil Chancellor: Master Shen is here the minister of Mifan who is working with his brother Tao Pai Pai to gather the Dragon Balls and overthrow Emperor Chiaotzu.
- HeelFace Turn: Tien rebels against Shen to protect Chiaotzu.
- I Have Your Wife: Unbeknownst to Chiaotzu, Shen is holding Ran-Ran hostage.
- Morality Pet: Chiaotzu for Tien Shinhan here: Tien can't bring himself to kill his friend, leading to his redemption here.
- Not His Sled: When Tao fights Bora at the restaurant, he grabs his spear and says the same dialogue that he says in the manga before he impales Bora with his own spear. In the movie, however, Master Roshi stops Tao from killing Bora.
- Tournament Arc: Er, tournament movie. It does later stray from this aspect however.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Shen betrays Chiaotzu and throws a coup after the tournament turns south. He also did this to the Pilaf Gang at the start of the movie.