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Film / Dragonball Evolution

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

An American Live-Action Adaptation of Dragon Ball produced by 20th Century Fox. 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.

Akira Toriyama reportedly hated this movie so much that he returned to work on the Dragon Ball franchise to do what he felt was redeeming 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 tie-in video game. 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 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 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 — though later entries in the franchise give it a similar ability.
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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 - while that is similar to what happens in the source material, the reason it's not an example of this trope there, but is in this movie, is because in the series proper, Goku used the Kamehameha as a means of propulsion, and charged Piccolo head-on to penetrate through himnote . Here, however, the Kamehameha somehow acts like a reverse tractor beam, despite the fact that, if anything, it should push Goku away from Piccolo.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Chosen One: Played completely straight.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Bulma
  • 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, Dragonball Evolution'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.
  • 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.
  • 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 was 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 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.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Bulma tries this with Mai.
  • 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.
  • 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 is a teenaged girl who takes part in martial arts tournaments.
  • Malicious Misnaming: The school bullies call Goku "Geeko".
  • Named by the Adaptation: The video game adaptation gives Chi-Chi the last name of McRoberts of all things.
  • 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 Quite Dead: In the post-credits Sequel Hook, Piccolo is revealed to have survived.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Race Lift: The movie got a lot of flak by casting white Justin Chatwin as Goku, with fans claiming that Goku is supposed to be Asian. Most defenders noted that race in Dragon Ball is more along the lines of human/demon/alien (and Goku is an alien). Bulma is played by the white Emmy Rossum, but her family is already from the West in the source material, and James Marsters's Piccolo is under so much makeup it doesn't really matter. Besides that, all of supporting characters (Master Roshi, Chi-Chi, Yamcha, Mai, Grandpa Gohan) are played by Asian actors.
  • 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: In a post-credits sequence, Piccolo is shown to have survived.
  • Shout-Out:
  • 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 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.
  • Stock Phrases: Uses a whole bunch of them.
  • Stock Scream: Partway through the movie Chi-Chi defeats a Wilhelm during her training.
  • Stock Subtitle: "Evolution".
  • 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.
  • Take Over the World: Piccolo's Evil Plan.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.


How well does it match the trope?

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