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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 ... 4 5 [6] 7
Re: Dragonball: The Magic Begins
Reply #41. Posted on January 19, 2007, 04:52:16 AM by Amarant
I shouldn't feel a need to reply here, but I will anyways.

DB and DBZ, in my opinion, are excellent, and a Live-Action Movie could have been an incredible opportunity to amaze people. Unfortunately, that was not the goal of this movie, but nonetheless it was hilarious. Horrible portrayals of great movies/shows/animes have *always* been popular, be they shown on TV, made into a film, or just people joking with their friends.

Naturally, those who turned to 'Dragonball: The Magic Begins' and expected to see astronomical Matrix-quality battles and a Kamehameha that could put the Death Star's lasers to shame were disappointed, but that's what happens when you expect too much of things.

And for all you who think that DB is not a twisted version of 'Journey to the West', Akira made it public knowledge that it was. Many many differences, and you may not like it, but that's the blunt truth =D

Re: Dragonball: The Magic Begins
Reply #42. Posted on March 23, 2007, 04:46:05 PM by Ignignokt_and_Err
you guys are retarded, DragonBall, and DragonBall Z is based on an ancient chinese legend, and this movie is not even closely related with the anime.  Although the stories are the same it is only because they come from the same myth told by asian people, and its not a live action reproduction of DBZ or its original DragonBall series.  Most people will argue and say that the DBZ is way too extreme to be an ancient legend, what with the crazed alien dictators and what not, but thats only because after the unexpected popularity of DragonBall, the story had no where else to go, so they just started making s**t up.  I have not seen the hole movie yet, but from the descriptions in the review it sounded like they give a very accurate porttrayal of the  legend, but then again there are many different versions and many many many different speculations on the characters and the exact role in the story.  This can especially be noted with Monkeyboy, or Goku.  If you ever play Marvel Vs. Capcom you will see a character named son son, who is female, carries the power pole, and goes super sayan.  I beleive she is based of one of capcoms early venture to produce a video game about the legend, but I havent found any proof yet. Nonetheless it proves my point, this is not closely related to the DragonBall anime series, however I have heard they are trying to make a live action version of the DBZ series, but I wouldn't keep my hopes up.
Re: Dragonball: The Magic Begins
Reply #43. Posted on December 16, 2007, 03:14:34 PM by Tsukasa Macleod
I love anime. Dragonball is not one of my favorites, but I still collapsed in horror at this monstrosity. It wasn't until the live action "Fist of The North Star" movie that this horror was topped. At one point they were even considering a live action "Bleach" movie! Otaku, Chite, or just plain anime fans, if you see this movie on the shelves, RUN!!!!!
Re: Dragonball: The Magic Begins
Reply #44. Posted on January 08, 2008, 12:33:30 AM by Giant Claw Jr
And all of them were out acted by the bird who has the best parts THEY SHOULD HAVE LEFT  IT A VIDEO GAME
Re: Dragonball: The Magic Begins
Reply #45. Posted on February 28, 2008, 10:33:12 PM by ALBATOSS
Have you ever noticed that when they make a movie from a popular video game it turns out to be as bad as it can ever be? Thumbdown BounceGiggle
Re: Dragonball: The Magic Begins
Reply #46. Posted on March 31, 2008, 12:26:35 PM by Lévai József
Wait a nanotick... that's no Monkey Boy... THAT'S GOKU!!!
Re: Dragonball: The Magic Begins
Reply #47. Posted on March 31, 2008, 10:26:33 PM by IRSISRSRI
This movie warned me of the dangers of eating Dragonballs
Re: Dragonball: The Magic Begins
Reply #48. Posted on June 14, 2008, 11:56:47 AM by Rodrigo
Hi everyone.

I've been searching for some subtitles for this movie, but I only found in Polish...

Do you know where I can find subs in Portuguese or English?

Thanks in advance!
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