Monday, August 1, 2022

Dragonball Movie 4 - Path to Power (1996)


Quick story time. I remember the first time I ever saw Dragonball VHS tapes available anywhere. There was a shop in my hometown that sold a lot of foreign material, and it had a shelf for anime/manga. One hot summer day I went over there and took a look around. Had just left the local arcade where I'd been getting destroyed in Tekken 2. Once I got to the shop, there it was, Dragonball. A bunch of VHS tapes with Kid Gokou on 'em. I'd never seen anything except Dragonball Z (and only the first 60 episodes or so). Obviously I was super-interested in this new show, but being a kid I couldn't afford $10 per imported VHS or whatever it was. I got a good look at them at least. "Don't Fear The Reaper" was playing on the store radio.

Now I'm wondering if those VHSes were these movies that I've been watching. If so, it's good that I couldn't afford 'em.

This shop later disappeared and was replaced with a restaurant, where I went on my first date, weirdly enough.

The movie starts with Bulma meeting Gokou for the first time and SHOOTING HIM. This is the third time I've seen this play out, between the show, the first movie, and now the fourth movie.

Gokou is all "what gives" while being unfazed.

First he thinks Bulma is an elephant, then he thinks she's a ghost. This is the first time he's seen a woman before, and only knows about them from stories Grandpa Gohan told.

Speaking of Grandpa Gohan, he went out for cigarettes a few years ago and never came back. Gokou thinks that he'll be back any time now and that he can communicate with him via praying, so here he is talking about how he finally found a woman. Bulma, meanwhile, just really wants the Dragonball that he's got here.

She explains the legend of how gathering the 'balls supposedly summons a dragon that'll grant any wish.

Which begs the question of why everyone in the world isn't looking for them. I'd expect all the major governments on the planet to have troops out searching for them at all times. The 'balls wouldn't be sitting around in the huts of hermits, they'd be in the custody of the Chinese and American militaries.

Bulma explains that she needs the 'balls to wish for a boyfriend.

...why doesn't she just, like, go to a club or something? She'd walk out with like 4 boyfriends.

Since Gokou won't relinquish his 'ball, she starts flashing him as a bribe. He's totally uninterested.

Finally they agree to join forces and find the rest of the 'balls so Bulma can make her wish. Gokou can't just give her his 'ball so instead he'll accompany her. What she doesn't tell him is that they get scattered post-wish. She's trying to manipulate a KID.
Gokou: "You're the first friend I've had, well, besides rocks"

Whoa, is that the Axe Knight from Dragon Warrior? No, it's...

...Chairman Mao-long. I mean so far this has just been the same stuff we've already seen, though it does at least look nicer and more high-def. Unlike the other DB movies, this one was actually made WELL into Dragonball Z and released right after the conclusion of that series, so it can be expected to look better.

Oolong details his dreams of finding the Dragonballs so that he can bury his face between the supple titties of a redhead.

Here's Yamcha, looking VERY Vegeta-ish. So wait...Bulma got together with this guy while he looked Vegeta-ish, then left him when a more Vegeta-ish guy came along?

Speaking of Bulma, this movie loves to sit on long lingering shots of her 'bod.

Yamcha and Bulma meet for the first time and he's completely shocked, running for his life immediately.

Bulma is also smitten. Maybe she'll be able to use her Dragonball wish for something actually useful now.

With four balls found, our heroes set out through the snowy tundra. If worse comes to worse and the truck breaks down, they could roast Oolong for food.

Turns out, the Dragonball on this mountain is held by the Red Ribbon Army, who open fire on the truck. Bulma is OUTRAGED!

This leads to Gokou beating them up, until this Major Metallitron guy shows up. Gokou defeats him in one hit (sigh, nobody can be a threat) and discovers that he is in fact a ROBOT!

Elsewhere, this Russian guy seems to be the leader of the Red Ribbons, and orders more robots to be deployed.

Meanwhile, back at the van... Oolong informs Bulma that cuddling works to fight hypothermia. Well, he's right.

The Russian guy sics his most powerful goon, Android Eight, on Gokou. This guy is actually strong enough to get the upper hand on Gokou during their brawl, shockingly.

...what happened to Androids 1 through 7? And 9 through 12?

Android Eight snaps out of it when he realizes he can't kill, and the angry leader guy tries to blow him up. Gokou one-shots him and saves Android Eight, then they go outside and...

...have a snowball fight! Also somewhere in there they got the 5th Dragonball.

This part is actually pretty heartwarming, with Gokou quickly making friends with Red Ribbon Army's latest mechanoid of destruction. Alas, time is short and they have to keep looking for Dragonballs, so off he goes.

...gotta say, this abridged version of the Dragonball show is kind of cool. Just whisks you through events.

Next up, our heroes meet Mister Turtle...who informs us that he's actually a tortoise, and sometimes he likes to go out to sea and hang out with other tortoises since they're the only ones that call him by his proper name. Unfortunately he got lost far from the sea, so our heroes bring him back, and Gokou makes another friend.

Later, Gokou can't sleep on the hard floor, so he jumps in bed with Bulma and uses her nether-regions as a pillow.

BUT WAIT! This pillow doesn't feel right. Time for Corona Jumper to become a hentai site:

We learn that Bulma is fully waxed downstairs as Gokou takes a gander, trying to figure out why she's flat. "Where are her balls?" he says aloud.

She wakes up none the wiser, but Gokou is now HORRIFIED.

Later, they have a visitor. It's...


::pause for studio audience applause::

He has a cloud that can only be ridden by the pure of heart. Bulma tries to ride it (hyuck) and fails, then Gokou succeeds to everyone's shock.

...except the viewers because we've seen all of this already

Roshi happens to have the 6th Dragonball! Bulma's dreams (of using an infinitely powerful wish to get something that she could get by just going outside on a day that ends in y) are close to realized!

The only problem is! ::record scratches:: Bulma has to show Roshi her titties!

Man, titties haven't been the same for me since the Itty Bitty Titty Committee was declared a terrorist organization.

We get a close-up of Bulma's hip region while she says that showing her underwear isn't so bad. Wait, she doesn't realize she isn't wearing any?

Bulma prepares to lift her shirt and Roshi is losing his mind.

Now Oolong is in on the action! WE'RE GONNA SEE SOME UNDERPANTS!

Richie appears nearby! "Oh yeahhh. Nicccce."

Yeah, this happened.

Surprised Oolong didn't put two and two together and go scampering back to the van to find her underpants.

Bulma runs back to the van with the 6th Dragonball. One left! ...then she realizes she isn't wearing underpants, and shatters all the windows screaming.

We get some Hot Roshi Leg as he prepares to power up and destroy a fleet of Red Ribbon Warships that have tracked our heroes down. You see, they too have Dragon Radar.

He goes Buff and proceeds to annihilate the fleet with a Kamehameha!

However they still have plenty of troops and airpower, and manage to apprehend our heroes...sans Gokou, who is still around somewhere.

The leader of the Red Ribbon Army is this guy, Red. Now that he has all of their Dragonballs, all he has to do is combine them with the 7th (which he has) and he can wish for something evil.

Our heroes are jailed, and Yamcha is here too. Now that he and Bulma are prison cellmates, prison has become AWESOME. ...they're gonna need everyone else to like, look away for a few minutes.

Gokou rushes to save them on his pet cloud, dodging Red Ribbon speeder-troopers in a scene lifted right from Return of the Jedi.

Here's the Red Ribbon Base, which Gokou is gonna launch a direct assault on.

The ground shakes a lot and these two end up falling onto each other. Fun Fact: This is also what they look like when they have sex. Bulma wondering what Yamcha is doing, Yamcha shocked that he's here.

Meanwhile, Gokou defeats the entire Red Ribbon Army and stacks all their tanks up in a giant Tank Orgy.

After everyone is rescued, they're thrilled to see Gokou. But what about the BALLS?

Red reveals that he's going to wish for greater height so that he can be 7 feet tall instead of 5 feet tall. His second-in-charge, Commander Black, is shocked that Red would waste a wish like he wastes HIM with some 9mm rounds. Now Black is the leader of the RRA!

Black activates the RRA's most powerful creation...

...a massive mech that fires purple beams.

He has lost his mind! He's going to wipe out our heroes, then wish for dominion over Earth or whatever.

It just occurred to me that this movie has gotten quite good, and would have worked well as a DBZ-style side-quel. The third act has been all new stuff. I could have done without the first two acts being retellings of existing DB material though. At least once DBZ started, they got the side-quel formula down.

After Black blasts Gokou into unconsciousness, Android Eight is here to save the day!

He picks up Gokou and shields him from the bad guy, in a legitimately touching moment. Gokou was probably the first person to show him kindness, so he's not going to let anything happen to the kid.

Unfortunately, this results in Black recovering and blasting Eight, Mother Brain style.

It's a bit of a Proto Android 16 moment, with Gokou at a loss next to Eight's corpse.

We then get an ANGRY BLUE POWERUP!


Gokou powers up the Kamehameha that, in this movie, he learned through pure osmosis, and...

BOOM! That's it for General Black. And now I want to see more side-quels set later in the Dragonball series, like during the Tien and Piccolo arcs. Unfortunately, this is it.

They get the balls and summon the dragon. Bulma and Yamcha both say that they no longer need their wishes, while glancing at each other. Well done, movie.

Gokou, however, does have a wish to make, and asks for Eight to be brought back to life. I mean, he's a robot... but apparently the dragon can do anything, because he says the wish is granted! And then we fade to credits, with all right in the world again.

Wow, what is this sick Bulma outfit? When did THAT happen in this series?

So, final thoughts? Not bad at all. Definitely the best of the four Dragonball movies. It would have been cool if this were the beginning of them retelling the whole Dragonball series with higher-def visuals, over a few movies.

The Dragonball movies are a weird mixed bag. The first 3 never really get to the heights of the DBZ movies. This fourth one does, but it also feels like it came from a completely different era (because it did). They're all side-quels which is pretty weird and redundant and confusing and I'm not a fan of that. But hey, they exist, and I watched them.

So what's next? Dragonball Super movies bay-beeee! At some later time. These DB ones were honestly kind of hard to get through.

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