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Not Rated
Copyright 1993 Filmswell International Limited
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 17 October 2001

The Characters:  

  • Monkey Boy - Laugh while you can! Hahahaha! Seriously though, this moderately invincible fighter is a perfect example why home schooling is dangerous.
  • Westwood - Brigand with a parrot named Snow White. He roams the land, killing people for their meager belongings (this is Southeast Asia). Believe it or not, he is one of the good guys!
  • Turtle Man - Lecherous old coot that wears the shell of an endangered species on his back.
  • Seetoe - She had this whole Indiana Jones/cowgirl thing going on in the beginning, it was weird.
  • Jade - Young girl. Pretty much useless except that she is the sole surviving member of her village.
  • The Pig-Headed Wizard - Descendent of the Pig Fairy (eh, er, what?) who can change his shape at will. He is a pervert, so a good measure of this talent is probably put to use doppleganging women he finds attractive.
  • Grandpa - To Monkey Boy. Look for the man with the big hair and birth control glasses.
  • King Horn - Okay, other than the fact that he can pass something three inches in diameter through his body (you know what I mean) and insists on wearing a massive latex mask, what do we really know about the movie's antagonist?
  • Horn's Army - Dozens of shiny silver people led by two evil captains. Zebrata is a huge, sunglass-wearing brute and Malila is an androgynous blonde. Both die, along with the troops.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

I am no true connoisseur of "Dragonball," though I was watching the series ten years ago (courtesy of tapes sent from Japan). Still, it quickly became obvious that the live action film took certain liberties. To verify my appraisal, I showed the film to a pair of Sayan disciples. Their reaction varied between outright revulsion to frothing hatred, interspersed with pointing at the screen and screaming "blasphemy!" Obviously, my hunch was right.

Open with Jade's father accepting the holy task of safeguarding the dragon pearl that has brought their village years of peace and prosperity. Not certain how you feel about it, but worshipping something that looks like a knickknack you might find in a dollar store is not my bag. The ceremony has just started when King Horn's troops attack. Thatch huts explode in spectacular fireballs as close air support covers the ground troops' advance. What sort of military objective is a hut made from dried reeds anyway? Geez! Predictably, the warlord marches in and demands the dragon pearl, then kills everyone when they try to resist. Jade hearkens to the creed of Sir Robin and wisely decides to run away.

Cut to Monkey Boy being tested by his grandfather. The old man worries that some evil force might try to steal their dragon pearl (foreshadowing: heavy art thou hands). Only through perfection of their martial arts can its safety be guaranteed. Indeed, the young warrior proves adept at fighting, especially when using the magic pole that can change size on command. Monkey Boy loses the competition though and is sent to find dinner; he is arguing with Seetoe while gramps is getting the bejeezus beaten out of him by Zebrata and Malila. The two kids arrive long after the bad guys have left. Grandpa and his sacred dragon pearl are nowhere to be found.

Notice that the Goku proxy character is fighting machine guns with kung fu. He learns quickly that being peppered with lead projectiles of varying sizes, traveling at supersonic speeds, is painful. Not lethal, but painful. After the first few times, Monkey Boy begins using his magic pole as a spinning shield against ballistic attacks. It works, so what can I say?

We are missing a few characters at this point. In quick succession Piggy (briefly disguised as an aborigine), Jade, and Westwood are bundled on. I'm not even going to mention that annoying parrot. Westwood is made more endearing by being scared to death of pretty girls and Seetoe immediately develops a crush on him. This allows for all sorts of levity as he tries to fight with Monkey Boy, but the young lady keeps causing distractions. Eventually Westwood just gives up and flees.

The group, minus Westwood who is sulking, decides to find the Turtle Man and ask for his help. Well, the hermit's house is on a small desert island - they got something right there. However, the ludicrous musical dance he performs when summoning the magic cloud is not to be missed. It comes complete with the old master ordering the cloud to find "pretty girls" and being dumped on his keister. Westwood preceded the others to fabricate a story about someone coming to challenge the Turtle Man. When the group arrives it takes no small amount of time to sort things out. Finally they finish fighting and arguing, just in time for Zebrata and Malila to show up with their air support (hmmm... ...the aircraft looks like half of a cloud car). The evil guys destroy most of the island and take the three dragon pearls.

Did I forget to mention that every major character possessed a dragon pearl when the movie began? Oh yes. Jade (well, it was her dad's), King Horn, Monkey Boy and grandfather, Westwood, Turtle Man, Seetoe, and Piggy are all the proud owners of cheap baubles with stars scratched onto them. At this point the Pig-Headed Wizard reveals to the others his dragon pearl, because he believes "the time is right." Hello? Idiot? They have lost every other one that fate had blessed them with! What is this boy thinking?

A desperate plan is hatched to defeat King Horn and his army. Piggy dresses up like Rambo (boy, didn't need to see that) and leads the assault on Jade's village, now the bad guy's base of operations. There is a large volume of gunfire and a lot of explosions; you will be surprised to see Horn's standard troops killed by the dozens. Many are mowed down by machine guns, with the others largely casualties of Turtle Man's energy blasts. Monkey Boy and Westwood pick off a few stragglers with their melee weapons. It is probably more believable than the Sayans using superhuman powers to dispatch the evil Army, but I wanted to see bone-breaking kung fu and people powering up!

King Horn appraises the situation before joining the fray, wisely planning ahead in case the good guys get the upper hand. He tries bartering with Monkey Boy's grandfather for starters, but that doesn't work so he punts the old geezer and summons the dead townsfolk to attack. The heroes are unable to bring themselves to fight against the innocent zombies! Only Monkey Boy's courageous charge, skimming the crowd on his magic cloud, causes the overlord to lose control of his puppets. Meanwhile, Grandpa and Turtle Man deduce that the six dragon pearls are in King Horn's stomach. With Monkey Boy's help they ram the seventh down his gullet; the dragon spontaneously generates inside the poor man's Freeza and that spells death.

Oh yeah - I love that special effect dragon! Does anyone have some sarcasm that I can borrow? Seems that I'm fresh out...

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Buddhist monks, when threatened, will form a protective circle. (Just like musk oxen!)
  • Crocodiles are a species of fish.
  • Boys who touch girls are called "rapists."
  • Arguing with a parrot is useless.
  • Turtles are bowlegged.
  • Masters of kung fu can shoot lasers or particle beams out of their hands.
  • Never hide something that expands into a huge dragon in your stomach.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 7 mins - I believe that it would be correct to say he possesses "the" four-star dragon pearl.
  • 8 mins - Forget the grammar lesson. This movie has bigger issues.
  • 24 mins - They have big guns and armored personnel carriers. You have a jeep and a wooden stick. Can you say, "forgone conclusion?" Good, I knew you could!
  • 35 mins - Nope, no rubber sword here.
  • 48 mins - What gave him away? The big freaking turtle shell on his back?
  • 58 mins - Piggy should change those socks.
  • 66 mins - Notice the cameraman's reflection in Turtle Man's glasses.
  • 73 mins - There is a flaw in the logic here...

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note dragonball1.wav Monkey Boy: "Granddad, with this magic pole I can protect you and the pearl from any invaders!"
Grandpa: "Hehehe, good! The dragon pearl and the magic pole are precious family treasures. We can't let them be stolen from us."
Green Music Note dragonball2.wav Seetoe: "Hey, you can't touch me!"
Monkey Boy: "Hmmm? Why, grandpa said that too. He said a boy mustn't touch a girl. He said that those who do are called..."
Both: "Rapists!"
Monkey Boy: "That's right!"
Green Music Note dragonball3.wav Piggy: "Actually, I might look strong, but I've got the heart of a chicken. Please don't hit me anymore sir, I'm scared!"
Green Music Note dragonball4.wav Monkey Boy: "Why did you lie to Turtle Man and say I want to fight him?"
Westwood: "You said you wanted to meet him!"
Monkey Boy: "Yeah, but that doesn't mean I want to fight him!"
Turtle Man: "Hey! That's enough, don't argue."
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipdragonball1.mpg - 3.2m
After some opening gunfire, the fight between Monkey Boy, Westwood, and Malila (with the two boys against the "girl") is showing some promise. Then Piggy shoots her full of holes with an M-16! Just the sort of movie that impressionable Colorado high school students need to watch.

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Comments:Write CommentPages: 1 ... 3 4 [5] 6 7
Dragonball: The Magic Begins
Reply #33. Posted on February 12, 2005, 06:30:37 PM by Athenais
It sucks, but the plot reminds me of the first dragonball movie.. it think it was three in all with a childlike goku and not the adult one.... yeah the plot is a lot like blood rubies or so was the title... but really the this film is not worth looking, but hey nice try for low budget and were they having the right to do that at all? I mean copyrights?
Dragonball: The Magic Begins
Reply #34. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Annie
I am glad to see that there are others who have seen this magical film, and then when I viewed it on the International Channel that it was not merely a dream or a mirage. Holy s**t. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon wasn't as innovative as we all thought.
Dragonball: The Magic Begins
Reply #35. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by super17rocks
Lets get it right.  Although ideas for a few DB characters were taken from Chinese folklore, this movie's by no means an adaptation of 'Journey to The West'.  Saying so would also be saying that Akira Toriyama was biting off of the folklore, instead of making an honest creative japanese comic.  It was only a poorly made, unlicensed, goofy adaptation of the origin Dragonball.  The references were obvious with Dragon Pearls being Dragonballs, Monkey Boy being Goku, Grandpa being Gohan (Goku's Grandfather/Guardian) although he live in the movie, Seetoe being Bulma, Pig Fairy as Oolong (remember the shapeshifter pig from DB/DBZ?), Westwood as Yamcha, and Turle Man as Master Roshi the Turtle Hermit.  Other refernces include, Monkey Boy explaing he was found in the forest and raise by Grandpa, Piggy threatening young girls to force them to marry him, Turtle Man being a dirty ol' man, magic cloud (flying nimbus in DB/DBZ), and Westwood's stark fear of the fairer sex.  And just like the DB series where Bulma likes Yamcha, Seetoe likes Westwood.  I also think Snow White the parrot was a replacement for Por, Yamcha's shapeshifting cat friend.  Yeah yeah, I watched the horrible movie and enjoy making the refernces.  But it did remind me of most of the past movies adapted from comics/cartoons, before really good sfx existed.  You remember ones like Doctor Strange, Spiderman live-action TV series, Street Fighter, and Masters of The Universe (aka He-Man), don't you?
Dragonball: The Magic Begins
Reply #36. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by Pajamas O. Ruttencutter III
I worship this movie like you may worship the bible. A guy must not touch a girl... they're called... RAPISTS!!! it has many morals. its all you need to teach your children. dont send them to school. if you think this is a big joke, get out of my sight. i am being dead serious. i might be insane, but if being insane involves loving this movie, send me to the asylum. YEAH!!!!
Dragonball: The Magic Begins
Reply #37. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by SuperSaiyan4Godzilla
Well, first off, this movie is based of Doragonbōru: Shenron no Densetsu. Or DragonBall: THe Legend of Shenlong. AKA Curse of the Blood Rubies. Here is the synopisis for The Legend of Shelong:
This is a retelling of how Goku began his adventures; from the first encounters with Bulma, Oolong, Pu'er, and Yamcha, up to his learning Kamehame-Ha just by watching Kame-Sen'nin using the technique, to the calling of the Dragon God, Shenlong. This time, Goku's origins are tied in with the evil King Gurumes (who wants the Dragon Balls to wish to put a stop to his endless hunger), and the King's minions, Pasta and Bongo (these two are using the quest for the Dragon Balls to cover the fact that they are greedily raping the countryside to gather up valuable "Rich Stones"). Bulma still wants to wish for a nice boyfriend, and Yamcha still wants the Dragon Balls to wish for his fear of women to be gone. Bulma ends up summoning Shenlong before Gurumes can, but Pansy, the daughter of the local mayor, shouts out her wish first -- for the countryside to be restored to its original state, prior to the discovery of Rich Stones. Shenlong does this, and causes the stones to disappear. Gurumes becomes a normal deformed human that likes to eat apples, and Goku zips off to find his Sūshinchū (Si Xing Qiu, the 4-star ball) again.

THank you Daizenshuu EX for the synopis.

now that you read it, The movie does has to do with Legend of Shenron instead of Journy to the West. I also have soemthing else to say. Comments should only be for people that saw the movie! Now this movie is missing somethings, but still. I give it 4.5/5.    

Dragonball: The Magic Begins
Reply #38. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:10:12 PM by Nik Nak
The initial idea of Dragonball (The Manga) was a twisted version of the Chinese Legend "A Journey to the West". It follows Monkey Boy and his quest to retreive Buddhist scrolls from the West. Eventually, it eveolved into something completely different.
This movie borrorws heavily from both Dragonball and Journey to the West.
What you think of the movie pretty much depends on how you are watching it. If you are watching it as a live action version of Dragonball then you are likely to be disapointed if not outraged at the horrible job the makers did. However if you are watching it as a comedy kind of film or a parody then whether or not you like the anime doesn't matter you are going to find this a bad movie but so bad that it is funny.
Dragonball: The Magic Begins
Reply #39. Posted on September 21, 2006, 01:22:58 AM by Spiro
Okay, it looks good.bad. It has nothing and alot to do with DragonBall. Jade was in the Jouney to the west. The monkey boy was in the journey to the west. So was the magical flying cloud. The Nyu Ibo was in the journey to the west. Who gives a s**t, DB manga was good, DB anime was good, so stick with them. DB copied the journey to the west, the s**t live action movie copied from the journey to the west and DB. Who cares, I agree with Nik Nak
Dragonball: The Magic Begins
Reply #40. Posted on November 25, 2006, 04:09:49 PM by
Heh heh, what the hell?!

Dragonball characters with guns and s**t?!

Man, now I've seen everything....
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