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Film / Dragonball Evolution

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Left to right: Mai, Bulma, Goku, Master Roshi, and Chi-Chi.

Dragonball Evolution is an American Live-Action Adaptation of Dragon Ball produced by 20th Century Fox and directed by James Wong. It stars Justin Chatwin, Emmy Rossum, Chow Yun-fat, James Marsters, Jamie Chung, Joon Park and Eriko Tamura.

Goku (Chatwin) is a young high school student who must battle the evil space overlord Piccolo (Marsters) 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 (Rossum), an aging martial arts master named Roshi (Chow), and a bandit named Yamcha (Park).

Akira Toriyama, the creator of the original series, reportedly hated this movie so much that he returned to work on the Dragon Ball franchise to redeem his creation. This was one of the factors resulting in Dragon Ball's revival in the mid-2010s, starting with Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods.

It has a Fighting Game adaptation on the PlayStation Portable. Not to be confused with the two unofficial live-action movies based on Dragon Ball, Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins and 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 while the former doesn't even join the heroes during the climactic battle to decide the fate of the Earth.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: While the manga/anime Goku is consistently portrayed as optimistic and confident, this version is shy and prone to self-doubt.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • Yamcha, who isn't as prone to being defeated and actually lands the finishing blow on Mai.
    • Bulma is briefly able to keep up with Goku and point her gun at his head even when he uses his speed.
      • She's even playable in the video game adaptation!
    • Mai. In the manga and anime, 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 — though later entries in the franchise give it a similar ability.
  • Adaptational Curves: Inverted. Son Goku is one of the most iconic example of Shōnen heroes with a Heroic Build and his physique is often idolized by anime fans and Gym goers (to the point that the Goku's gym meme exists) and he constantly suffers Clothing Damage to show off his impressive physique. Movie Goku has a very average, slim build to the point that even Yamcha is more muscular than him. The story arcs the movie is adapting had a less muscular Goku, but that is because Goku was a lot younger in the source material during the King Piccolo saga. The movie gives him an Age Lift, but leaves out his muscular physique, presumably to portray him as a loner/loser.
  • Adaptational Modesty: Bulma, who is a Ms. Fanservice in the source material dresses a lot more modestly here.
  • Adaptational Mundanity: This is justified, since it would have been very difficult to make this film 100% faithful to the manga and anime, since on Earth from the world of Dragon Ball is inhabited by anthropomorphic animals, dinosaurs, humans with unusual characteristics, demons and talking monsters. Also, in the manga and anime the Dragon Ball chronology goes back to the 700s, while in the film it seems to happen in the present 2009. Goku is an average high school teenager rather than a kid raised in the woods and most of the cast, notably the dwarf Krillin, were left out.
  • Adaptational Skimpiness: Chi-Chi infamously wore a bikini as a kid but switched to more modest clothing as an adult. Here she wears a lot of cleavage revealing outfits.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The Namekians are described as being conquerors from across the stars, when in the source material, they are mostly peaceful, with Demon King Piccolo being an exception (and that was only because he was the physical embodiment of the evil side of the Namekian he and Kami split from).
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • Zig-zagged with Yamcha. While, as stated in Adaptational Badass, he isn't as prone to being defeated, he also doesn't seem to posses Manga Yamcha's vastly superhuman abilities.
    • The Oozaru in the manga is a King Kong like beast. Here, as an Oozaru, Goku grows around two feet taller than his base form.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • Played with in terms of Yamcha. Like his manga counterpart, he does indeed have naturally black hair, but appears to have dyed it blonde In-Universe.
    • Bulma's once blue and/or purple hair is reduced to a single streak on fully brunette hair.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The surprisingly-decent video game of the film takes a few chances to expand upon the film and throw in a few more elements from the actual franchise. In particular, Piccolo references Goku's Saiyan heritage by name during the battle at the temple and in the secret bonus chapter of the story, Piccolo returns in a very Lord Slug-esque form of "Neo Piccolo", and as he dies for good, he utters another curse at Goku's true identity as a Saiyan. Even as the chapter closes, Chi-Chi mentions a new technique, jokingly stating it would be "a beam from her forehead".
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: At the end, the Dragon Balls are used to bring back Master Roshi, but not Grandpa Gohan. In the original manga and anime, Gohan said he was content with remaining dead, but no such clarification is given here, raising the question of why they didn't at least try to resurrect him.
  • Adapted Out: The movie seems to be mostly an adaptation of the Demon King Piccolo arc of the manga with a little bit of Goku's backstory added in, so they could safely excise any of the bit characters from the other arcs. But still some major players in the DKP arc are still left out, like Tien Shinhan and Chiaotzu, and perhaps most egregiously, Krillin.
  • Age Lift:
    • Goku is aged up to a teenager at the start instead of being a kid.
    • Master Roshi appears to be younger and more youthful looking than Grandpa Gohan, despite being his former Martial Arts master.
  • Alternate DVD Commentary: A riff provided by Team Four Star 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.
  • Anime Hair: Goku features a more downplayed realistic spin on this. He even tried to gel his hair down to prepare for a party.
  • 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. Also, Goku instantly becomes perfect and then easily defeats the villain.
  • Artistic License – Physics: At the end of the Beam-O-War between Goku and Piccolo, Goku somehow uses the Kamehameha to propel himself towards Piccolo, somehow acting like a reverse tractor beam that draws them towards each other, despite the fact that, if anything, it should push Goku away from Piccolo since it's just a blast of energy and nothing more.
  • 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 Normal: Yamcha and Bulma, though they do almost nothing of consequence compared to Goku.
  • Be Yourself: Goku must learn to embrace what makes him different in order to save the world. This definitely counts as an Adaptational Angst Upgrade, since Goku is usually so carefree and wouldn't be so concerned with fitting in.
  • Blood Magic:
    • Piccolo creates creatures from his blood.
    • Mai steals a sample of Chi-Chi's blood to take her form.
  • 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, Goku here can also be called Peter Parker.
    • Piccolo, on the other hand, keeps most of his traits, but also gains a few possessed by Emperor Pilaf - most notably having Mai as his assistant (in the series proper, it would be Piano), his wish to take over the world (in the series proper, it was to become young again), and being the first villain fought. On top of that, his usage of the Saibamen comes from Nappa and Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z.
    • Sifu Norris is a mentor to Master Roshi, similar to the animated series Master Mutaito and his costume bears some similarity to the outfit worn by Mr Popo.
  • 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 16th Birthday: Grandpa Gohan dies on Goku's 18th birthday.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Goku has a conversation with his grandfather after Mai shoots him with a ray gun and leaves him near-death.
  • 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.
  • Death by Adaptation: In the original manga and anime timeline, Mai lives. But she dies in the movie.
  • 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.
  • Earth Drift: Inverted, if the PSP video game is anything to go by: it is stated that unlike the completely Fictional Earth in Dragon Ball, this movie's Earth is in fact our world in the future.
  • 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 whose 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.
  • 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.
  • Forgot About His Powers: Piccolo demonstrates telekinesis powerful enough to crush a house, but never uses it again, even to try to retrieve a Dragonball that's rolling away.
  • Gratuitous Japanese: Mai has a scene that's all in (subtitled) Japanese.
  • The Greys: Demon King Piccolo more resembles a green colored one of these than the sluglike Namekian of the manga and anime
  • Guns Akimbo: Bulma. Shame she misses everything she shoots at.
  • High School AU: 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.
  • 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.
  • Jerk Jock: Carey Fuller, one of the guys who bullies Goku at school.
  • Kamehame Hadoken: Naturally, given the movie is an adaptation of one of the Trope Namers. Amusingly, Goku's use of it throughout the film resembles the Hadoken more than the Kamehameha from the anime and manga.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Carey Fuller tries to run Goku down with his car to spite the latter.
  • Lancer vs. Dragon: During the climactic battle, Bulma takes on Mai. Mai emerges victorious but is defeated by Yamcha, the other lancer of the group.
  • 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.
  • The Power of Lust: Goku has trouble controlling his ki, and Grandpa Gohan's guidance doesn't help. It isn't until Chi-Chi, his eventual Love Interest, begins to motivate him that he gets the hang of it.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Goku's eyes keep changing color after his transformations into Oozaru form.
  • Remake Cameo:
    • In addition to Mario Castañeda and Carlos Segundo returning as the respective voices of Goku and Piccolo, Irwin Daayán, the original Dende, voices Agundas; Paco Mauri (Gara in Dragon Ball and Mr. Lao in Z) is instead the voice of Master Roshi; José Arenas (who played various roles in Z and GT as well as Jeice in Kai) is the voice of Fuller; Herman López (the original Turtle) voices Mr. Kingery (the teacher who appears at the beginning of the film); and Arturo Mercado, the voice of Karin, Zarbon and Babidi, voices Grandpa Gohan.
    • In the Japanese dub, Hisao Egawa, who voices Piroshki and Spopovitch in Z, voices Yamcha and Kenji Utsumi, the original Shenron, voices Sifu Norris (Roshi's master).
  • The Reveal: It's no real shocker to those who are DB fans but Goku and Oozaru are one and the same.
  • Stock Scream: Partway through the movie Chi-Chi defeats a Wilhelm during her training.
  • 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.
  • That's Gotta Hurt: When Goku avoids one of Fuller's punches during their battle, the latter punches his car's window and yells in pain, causing Goku to say the trope name verbatim.
  • There Are No Rules: Mentioned a few times by Goku, who got it from his grandpa who said it while they were training at the beginning of the movie.
  • 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.
  • Unknown Rematch Conclusion: Goku accidentally knocks out Chi-Chi thinking she is Mai in disguise. Chi-Chi and Goku later argue over whether or not this was a lucky punch and decide to settle it with a proper fight that begins as the movie ends.
  • 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.
  • White Male Lead: Goku is the only major character who is Caucasian and just so happens to be the one who saves the day.
  • Word Salad Title: Dragonball Evolution.


Video Example(s):


"You Will Become Oozaru"

Krimson Rogue as a long-time fan of Dragonball tears into Dragonball Evolutions' depiction of Oozaru.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / AdaptationInducedPlotHole

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