Title: Dragonball - The Magic Begins
UK Distributor: N/A (Import Only)
Japanese Distributor: Tai Seng Video Marketing
Suggested Retail Price (SRP):
Directed By: Ho Chi Keung
Running Time: 95 mins (approx.)
Audio: English (dubbed)
Reviewer: Tom (Webmaster)
Whether you are a die-hard Dragonball
fan or just have a passing interest in the fun series then you
have probably heard that Hollywood have purchased the Dragonball licence
and are currently producing a live-action version of the Akira Toriyama classic.
If you are one of several die-hard fans that is angry about the possibility of
another disastrous Hollywood remake then you had better stop reading now as a
live-action version of Dragonball has existed since 1989 courtesy of
Now I've just come away from watching Dragonball: The Magic Begins (TMB)
in full and there is only one way to put it - you are either going to think this
is the worst piece of blasphemy ever created or just another piece of
straightforward badly-dubbed fun to come from the Far East that should not be
taken seriously. Personally I side with the latter description as I did
find TMB to be great fun, but before any Dragonball zealots e-mail
death threats bear with me and I will explain.
The film begins oddly as it opens with a ceremony in a rural eastern village
where the viewer is introduced to the village's sacred possession - a
Dragonpearl (errr...Dragonpearl? Isn't the film called Dragonball?
Why change this? Oh well!). The viewer is then consequently
introduced to the evil latex faced King Horn and his dastardly army that seem to
be a cross between Mad Max villains and shiny Blake's 7 bad guys.
Cue unconvincing flying battleships, thatched huts that explode like petrol
tankers and acting that would make Ed Wood blush. If that wasn't good
enough you should wait until King Horn starts walking - it's like John Wayne
badly needing to use the toilet after having a golf club shoved up him.
All this happens only five minutes and if you find this funny then you will
think this film is superb. If not then you need to find a sense of humour!
As the film continues and you realise that none of the character names are the
same - Goku is Monkeyboy, Roshi is Turtle Man and Yamcha is Westwood. You may be
forgiven for thinking that none of the film is based on Dragonpearl - sorry
Dragonball - at all, but there are some situations taken from the manga that
should subdue any hatred zealots may be feeling. With the exception of the
beginning and the end TMB sticks reasonably close to the manga.
Anyway let me talk about what matters: action. Action has always been what
Dragonball is famous for and TMB does deliver some decent set
pieces as far as action is concerned with some great OTT moves that even the
most hardened zealot will find hard not to smile at. The music is also
hard not to smile at as it is cheesy 80's j-pop style that everyone loves.
And now on to the effects. If you remember shows like Monkey! then
TMB is very similar in style with some shockingly bad effects that are
atrocious compared to many other 80's films and are even bad when compared to
some 70's films as well. Add in the worst dragon ever to grace a TV screen
and you are in for a treat of gloriously bad cinema! The costumes have to
be mentioned to as I've seen better cosplayers then these guys. Marvel at
Turtle Man's shell backpack! Gape at Westwood's bad Clint Eastwood outfit!
Swoon at the magnificent mullets! Oh, this is bad stuff!
So to sum up: Bad acting, bad dubbing, bad effects, bad costumes, pretty
much bad everything make up for one heck of an enjoyable film! Get some
beers in, get your mates and settle down to some magnificent badness that even
Channel 5 would not show! If you can get a die-hard Dragonball
fan to see it then even better as the look on their face would be utterly
priceless. TMB is quite simply one of the best 'so bad it's good'
films I've seen in a long time and I want a sequel!!