Monday, April 11, 2016

Dragonball Z Movie 1: The Dead Zone

 
The first of many Dragonball Z movies, and the only one from the Z series (besides Movie 9) that actually fits within the show's canon time-wise. That's right, only two of the first thirteen DBZ movies are even possible to consider canon with the show they're based on. Figure that one out. Regardless, the idea that this one works as being show-canon makes it a lot more exciting.

Now remastered with HD images for 2016



We start with a look at Piccolo training. Since this is the very first movie in the series, it stands to reason that it takes place before the Raditz arc. I actually feel like this might have been a better beginning to the series than Raditz, and since it's canon-possible it isn't hard to imagine.

Piccolo's training is interrupted by an assault from a pack of goons! Who are these nefarious bastards?

In mere seconds, they blast Piccolo and apparently kill him off. Can it be? Did they really kill Piccolo off less than a minute into the first movie? And here I thought Batman Vs. Superman jumped the gun.

Kami detects that Piccolo has met an end. Kami is still here, though, so chances are Piccolo is okay. When one of the two goes, so does the other. They're like an elderly married couple.

...that just made me feel sad.

Meanwhile at the house, Gohan is studying. Wait, studying? Isn't he in like, Kindergarten at this point? Chi Chi must be one of those tiger moms.

 Speaking of Chi Chi, here's the lady herself. She's about to call Gohan in for supper when they're accosted by...

...the goon squad from earlier!

And they've taken out the Ox King!

...man, the Ox King sure is useless considering how big and tough he looks. How is this guy Gohan's grandpa? Bardock must have been really strong to offset the terrible Ox King genes.

 Chi Chi is ready for battle, and tells Gohan to go inside the house so she can deal with this. Bad-ass!

But wait! Lurking inside the house was... another goon. He didn't have time to go in there just now, which means... he was lurking in there already before the others got here. Probably in their closet, watching them.

THE CALL IS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUUUUUSE.

Chi Chi swings into action!

 She gets one-shotted, but at least she tried. I don't remember the fight being this abrupt the first time I watched this. I thought she actually got a few hits in on these goons. How is my memory so off about this?

Would have been cool to see her put up more resistance. I wouldn't mind seeing Chi Chi be a super-powerful badass in this show. No real reason she couldn't have gotten to Tien level or something. This show revolves around power levels rather than physical size or anything like that, so she could easily be written as being a formidable character.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I've been informed that I was thinking of Movie 4; Chi Chi fights in that one too, and gets to do a lot more.

 Nearby, Gokou senses that something is amiss and flies out of a lake while dragging a large fish. He's also entirely in the buff... ladies.

Gokou arrives (he put on clothes while running, which takes talent) to find Chi Chi out cold and Gohan missing.

Apparently the goons want the dragonball that Gohan wears on top of his hat, and... Gohan is glued to the hat?

We cut to the nefarious castle of Garlic Jr., which looks really awesome. It's like something out of the NES Ninja Gaiden.

 It looks like the bad guys now have five of the seven Dragonballs...and one screaming baby. Seriously, why didn't they just take his hat?

 Here's Garlic Jr. himself, on a throne made from dinosaur penis.

He's a nasty little bugger, and reminds me of Eric Cartman for some reason. He wants to wish for immortality, and he'll stop at nothing to collect the Dragonballs. He's basically Proto-Freeza, without all the power.

Apparently Garlic Jr. wants to avenge Garlic Sr., who I assume was defeated in the original Dragonball. I've seen roughly the first half of that show but I don't remember him, so he must be later on.

Editor's Note: Apparently not. Er...what?

 Garlic Jr. goes on to make Gohan an offer he can easily refuse: Be his dark apprentice. You know, like in Star Wars.

Back at the base, our heroes track down Gohan's whereabouts via Dragon Radar. Gokou then takes off on his flying cloud, which at this point was the fastest way to travel.

Annnnd back at the castle, Gohan's captors are being pretty nice to him overall. He manages to grab an alcoholic apple and eat it, much to the chagrin of the guards. What follows is the best scene in the movie, as a drunken Gohan begins to dance.

He busts a phat groove while getting down and getting funky, and the bad guys can't possibly step up to that.

Let's see you daaaaance sucka you got nothin' on me!

LET'S SEE YOU DAAAANCE SUCKA YOU GOT NOTHIN' ON ME!

Let's see you! Let's see you!

Daaaaance sucka you got nothin' on me!

LET'S SEE YOU DAAAANCE SUCKA YOU GOT NOTHIN' ON ME!

LET'S SEE YOU DAAAANCE SUCKA YOU GOT NOTHIN' ON ME!

While Gohan dances his way into America's heart, the bad guys add the final Dragonballs to the pile. Now they've got all seven. Seriously, what is taking Gokou so long?

 "This is the cloud's top speed"

I think these guys can run faster than that!

Christopher Walken shows up with visions of the future The Eternal Dragon shows up for wish-granting purposes.

Well, Gokou should be here any moment now-

...what the? Garlic Jr. wished for immortality, and...got it. This might be the only time in the entire series that a bad guy succeeded in wishing for immortality. If only that damn cloud wasn't so respectful of the speed limit!

Garlic Jr. proceeds to rant about how the denizens of Hell will now freely roam the Earth again, exacting vengeance on all living things. I'm pretty sure merely wishing for immortality doesn't give you the power to open the Hell gates and evoke a Doom-esque invasion of cacodemons.

 Plus we never see any of these invading demons after this, so I think he was just being megalomaniacal.

He went on to rant about building a wall to keep Namekians out, so I'm not sure how seriously we can take this guy.

Gokou arrives via cloud, and Kami teleports in to help him. Wait a minute, if Kami could just teleport here, why didn't he do it sooner and stop them from summoning the dragon?

Kami, who apparently knows all about Garlic Sr. from past struggles, tells Garlic Jr. that "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree". He does this while coincidentally standing in front of an apple tree. Watch out Kami! Those apples are 100 proof!

Gokou locks horns with Garlic Jr.'s goon squad, as is tradition. Kami stays to hash things out with Garlic Jr. himself.

The goons announce their names: Ginger, Nikki, and... Sancho. They attack three-on-one, but it's to no avail as Gokou outmatches them. ...with his 400 power level. These guys must be like Original Dragonball level strength.

They fire some brightly-colored energy rays at Gokou and it looks like they're seizing the upper hand, but the rays get deflected by...

...KURIRIN! A new fighter enters the ring! It's good to see this guy do some fighting in this movie since he was pretty much denied that role in the Raditz Saga that opened the series.

Gokou is all "it's still two on three". Hey, Gokou was doing okay by himself, so I think you guys will manage.

But wait! Piccolo is here! Is he the third man? Yes. BUT WHOSE SIDE IS HE ON?

Before the now-fair fight can get underway, someone pees on Kuririn.

Who's the bastard who would do such a thing?

LET'S SEE YOU DAAAANCE SUCKA YOU GOT NOTHIN' ON ME

LET'S SEE YOU...let's see you...let's...zzz. Party animal Gohan is tuckered out.

The battle begins for real, as Piccolo completely dismantles the goon he's assigned with. He's none too pleased about being left for dead by these goofballs earlier.

Piccolo straight-up murders the goon and leaves his corpse hanging from a nearby wall in a shot that is notably violent and dark. Surprised the American version kept this in.

 Kami, meanwhile, isn't faring too well against Garlic Jr. Turns out Kami isn't all that powerful, which is a surprise to me. I figured he'd pack a punch, even if he is a peace-loving holy man who chooses not to under normal circumstances.

I'd like to know more about how Kami's power works. Is he strong, but simply out of practice? Is his power equivalent to Piccolo's at any given time, since they're twins?

 Meanwhile, Gokou gets the other two goons by himself (Kuririn is busy watching Gohan). One of them produces a pair of scimitars out of thin air. It's like I'm suddenly watching Highlander: The Series again! How did they keep those swords concealed in their street clothes? I MUST KNOW!

We get a few shots that were featured prominently in the "Rock the Dragon" opening credits. Most of those credits were shots from the first three movies, interspersed with a small amount of Saiyan Saga footage and, oddly enough, a couple of Cell Saga shots. Weird, because the dub wasn't anywhere near airing those episodes for years.

The fight choreography in this movie is actually pretty good. There isn't much motion-blur action and you can see most of the maneuvers the characters are doing. Here, Gokou blocks and dodges a bunch of strikes from both sides in rapid succession and it's impressive.

After Gokou takes them both out with a Kamehameha, it's time for the main event as Gokou and Piccolo team up to take on Garlic Jr. Little do they know, Garlic Jr. has a FINAL FORM~!

 He's been hitting the 'roids for this one.

The much larger beastmode version of Garlic Jr. immediately steamrolls them with a double clothesline, Broly style.

Both guys fire back with all kinds of strikes, but Garlic Jr. is too resistant. I wonder if he's stronger than Raditz. Let's see... according to the first DBZ RPG on the famicom, his power level is 3500. Raditz was either 1200 or 1500 depending on who you ask, so yep, this guy is indeed stronger than Raditz. Nappa is still a lot stronger at 4000 or 6000 (depending, again, on who you ask).

Meanwhile, Kuririn gets Jack Burton'd as the falling ceiling knocks him out.

Here's my Big Trouble in Little China review, while I'm at it

That same fight music from Big Trouble should be playing here as Gokou and Piccolo disrobe and get serious. The sound of fangirls screeching can be heard faintly in the distance.

Gokou comments that he likes being on the same side as Piccolo for once. Yep, this would have been a good first couple episodes for the show. Piccolo fires back by saying that he still wants to defeat Gokou, but that it'll have to wait. Looks like early-DBZ Piccolo is Proto-Vegeta.

They actually manage to knock Garlic Jr. around a bit, but he's immortal so it doesn't matter.

 I guess immortality means you auto-repair any damage sustained pretty much as soon as it happens.

He proceeds to summon the titular Dead Zone, a black hole that could suck all life on Earth into an eternal void.

 On one hand, it seems pretty dumb for Garlic Jr. to summon something that could result in his own "demise", given that the good guys have no way to beat him normally. However, the movie actually gives this a rational explanation: His father got trapped in the Dead Zone by our heroes previously, so Jr. wants them to suffer the same eternal damnation.

Despite Piccolo's tough talk and villainy, Gokou saves him from the Dead Zone here. This could be the start of an interesting alliance. Again, I think this stuff definitely should have been part of the main show.

Gohan pops up and flies into the first of many rages, unleashing an OP energy ray that knocks Garlic Jr. right into the Dead Zone.

He flips around a lot in the void and cackles about how he can't die, and the portal closes. Earth is saved, and we'll never have to see this guy again.

...WE'LL NEVER HAVE TO SEE THIS GUY AGAIN.

Kami explains that while Garlic Jr. was arrogant to the end, he'll soon be wishing he were anything but immortal as he wastes away with nothing to keep him company in an endless void. Man, that's dark.

Our heroes literally walk off into the sunset. Well, sans one...

...because Piccolo is in the full Vegeta-role of standing ominously nearby, too cool to hang out with everyone else after the battle.

Gokou takes off with Gohan on what I hope is a new cloud, because the old cloud should be out of a job after the way it bungled everything earlier.

Ya know, I liked this movie a lot more than I expected to. Don't remember liking it this much the last time I watched it, a few years ago. It has good fight choreography (you can really see Gokou's blocking and dodging) and good character interaction.

Super-young Gohan makes it really clear from the get-go that he's the secret main character of this show and the one who will eventually lead the story into the future...for like ten episodes. Man, F the Buu Saga. I like it up through the Gokou/Vegeta fight and Vegeta's Sacrifice, but after that it just goes off the rails. Mainly because at that point it should have been Gohan's time to continue shining, but instead we got some of the dumbest booking imaginable.

Regardless, thumbs up for Movie 1.


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3 comments:

  1. DON'T YOU EVER SAY AN UNKIND WORD ABOUT OX KING

    You might think that, but Garlic Sr. is just someone made up for the background of this movie.

    Hahaha, you've got your Dead Zones mixed up.

    Man, if Garlic Jr. was almost as strong as Nappa he'd be flicking everyone away with his finger.

    "...WE'LL NEVER HAVE TO SEE THIS GUY AGAIN. " Such doomed optimism!

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  2. I quite enjoyed this mail and all its colorfulness. Kid Gohan with his Chinese suits is a fun character too.

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