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Dragon Ball Z (Z being the grade of this movie)


Dragon Ball Z: Evolution

This is the reason I work for Bitter Balcony. Masterpieces like this are the gems that I live for. Lets get on with it shall we?

This is the story of a boy who has one ball searching for little green man with the aide of a delusional martial artist and a 20-year-old P.H.D. that has a minor in small tactical weapons. The green man is searching for his balls and will kill anyone that gets in his way. I’m sure I’d be this upset if someone else had my balls, er, of the dragon and the Z variety. Sure, sure. You are thinking you’ve seen this before. The thing is you probably have since you have likely seen crap before, any crap will do.

What do you get with this shimmering shining piece of filmmaking? Bad acting, bad FX bad and a narrative that is so complex a 2 year old can do better. Lets expand on this a little further. This is a review after all.

I went into this movie knowing nothing about it except a few I’ve known in the past enjoyed the 10 minutes of flying (or prolonged jumping), screaming, and repetitive Kung-Fu punches and kicks. As we all know you shouldn’t have to know the source material to enjoy the film that is based on it.

The story (adapted by Ben Ramsey) goes from point A to B to C with little complexity and a lot of convenient moments to keep it moving. There were a few dragon balls that were found in very eye rolling ways. There is nothing more to discuss about it beyond keeping the BS flying punching and screaming, which I give it credit for.

The cast is fine since nothing is really expected out of this movie from the get go. Chow Yun-Fat is here to provide at least some talent, but even he is forced to act like a cartoon and it doesn’t really work. He has the charisma to keep you from wanting to walk out, but that is it. Goku is played by Justin Chatwin, which tries to do a good job, but fails. Blame it on the lame story/direction. The gals in the movie consist of Emmy Rossum and Jamie Chung, amongst others. All very attractive women which are nice to look at and at least don’t botch the job at hand like Sienna Miller botched the Baroness. The little green man is not really all that little, but his screen time is. He’s played by James Marsters and goes by the name of Lord Piccolo.

Direction (by James Wong) is very much like a Stephen Sommers job. If you have browsed the site at all (see GI Joe stuffs) you will know that might be a low blow, but it’s true. This movie is all flash and zero substance. I will give James Wong this – the movie may just be flash, but it is more entertaining than GI Joe. Its not saying much, but take what you can get Mr. Wong.

There are those ridiculous, expected for this story, scenes that you roll your eyes and wait for them to be over. Then there are some that I just can’t accept. Things like you shoot a wall and it blows up in a huge explosion. You shoot a man with the same gun and he gets knocked on his ass and passes out… riiiight… Then there is the high school hot chic that dates jocks suddenly changes pace and "likes different", as in the main character, and is also a martial artist. Sorry, but last I checked hot chics that date jocks don't all of the sudden go for the dorky spiky haired guy.

I think you knew this before reading this review, but this movie is “blah” at best. If you catch it on cable then sit through it. If you have anything that isn’t Bay, Sommers, or Boll then watch that. Speaking of cable, this is very much something that would show up on the lamely renamed SyFy channel.

Chow Yun-Fat’s character says that the future is always changing in this movie. Funny. From where I am standing it looks like the future is always the same – one bad movie after another.

PS. Why is Chow Yun-Fat’s name sometimes written Yun-Fat Chow? I’d like to pay the man the proper respect, but I can’t seem to find anything which says which is the right one.




Directed by: James Wong
Written by: Ben Ramsey (adapted)
Cast: Chow Yun-Fat, Justin Chatwin, Emmy Rossum, Jamie Chung

Source of the Bitter: JAS

Comments, rants and other stuffs below
John Rojas on Mon, 08/24/2009 - 10:54am

I haven't seen this film but I was a DragonBall Z fan years ago. From what I can gather, the reimagining of Goku as a high schooler left me suspicious to say the least. I'll say this, crap is crap! You can be the best technical filmmaker or cinematopgrapher but if the story sucks and the performances are lame, not to mention that your form is trite, the movie is not going to work in any level.

I think that Michael Bay is a gifted cinematographer, his movies are shot and lit better than most mainstream filmmakers. But his can't pace a story to save his life.

Christopher Nolan, on the other hand, didn't start of as this visual master. He had a learning curve, evient in the Batman movies, were he was able to make adjustments to finally present the realistic tones of The Dark Knight. But Nolan has been a great storyteller, and seems to get better each film.

Being a great filmmaker is like telling the commode story. You got to tell the story, or your ain't worth nothin'.

Yannick (not verified) on Sat, 08/22/2009 - 5:45pm

Well I write Asian names as first name - last name when in a Western context. Most of my friends are Asian but are here in the US and they say their first name first. The order changes when it is within an oriental context. So Chow Yun-Fat, Yun-Fat Chow, both are correct, the latter would just be the one used in Asian countries.

About the movie, well, I thought that it was especially really good visually. I can forgive a simplistic story and cheesy line delivery when a movie is that good visually and musically. And the story, while being very simple, still conveyed some pertinent messages. I usually don't watch kids movies because I feel insulted as a viewer, usually they convey stupid messages like 'family is important', 'friends are forever' and clichés along these lines from which there is really nothing to learn. Dragonball Evolution was built as a metaphor for accepting both sides of ourselves, the angry, animalistic side controlled by our pulsions and the more human and intelligent part of our personalities. The movie says in order to become stronger we need to be both, control our anger and use it when necessary. I think it's a pretty intelligent message for a kids movie, duality was supposed to be the central theme behind Spider-man 3 but nothing came out of it other than a bad guy/good guy inner battle. There is also another underlying message conveyed through the film, about how violence is okay when needed although we should avoid using it in unnecessary situations and especially for ego purposes. In other words, use your brains, not your fists. Sure, this is a very common message in films of this genre but they didn't make a big deal out of it, it's there in the background and still remains a good lesson for people to learn. This is not just for kids, the messages conveyed in the film are good for all ages. So yes, it is a very simple story, but I'd say it works well and is pretty clever.

Agreed about Goku and the gun, I understand why they did it but they could have done without it. There were some moments like this that could have been improved and made the film more clever.

I don't think ChiChi had sex with Fuller though. Fuller said 'Beauty awaits me', which is not what one would say about his girlfriend, I think he was trying very hard to hit on her and he hung out with her but they didn't look like boyfriend and girlfriend. ChiChi clearly didn't care for him, she didn't approve of how he treated Goku and wanted to break the fight between Goku and him but she didn't care when he was laying on the ground after he got hit. She obviously knew he was an ass. As for Goku, she just wanted to have some time to talk to him at the party and didn't think there would be trouble with the jocks. ChiChi was apathetic because she didn't care about all the high school stuff, but her deeper personality was that of a fighter who wouldn't put up with anybody's crap as we were able to see later on throughout the film. She was apathetic in high school because she just didn't care, but she was strong enough as a character not to be ashamed of inviting Goku to her party.

And finally, I thought the music and the cinematography were simply amazing. I give more importance to how a movie looks and how good the music is because, as a foreign student, watching movies with my friends, I came to realize how movies are not universal anymore. That's what Chaplin said in defense of silent films, that talking pictures would trigger the loss of the universal aspect of movies. I'm a writer too but I care about stories more than dialogues and I, for one, think a movie should be understandable mostly through the images and the music. That's how a movie can be understood and appreciated in the same manner in every country. I find the dialogues to only be useful as a plus, to add complexity and give more detailed explanations as to what should be conveyed on screen and through the score. So I'm a lot more forgiving if the film is visually and musically efficient. Honestly I found the acting to be good but the line delivery to be really cheesy, but I thought that in an anime adaptation context, it worked.

Anyway, you're welcome for the comment and thank you for replying to it ;)

Yannick (not verified) on Sat, 08/22/2009 - 2:39pm

"Why is Chow Yun-Fat’s name sometimes written Yun-Fat Chow?"

Because in Asian countries, the last name comes before the first name.

"a lot of convenient moments to keep it moving"

Yes, there were, except this is a totally unrealistic fantastic movies. Shortcuts are understandable here, not so much in movies like The Dark Knight that pride themselves of being credible and realistic. Dragonball Evolution is a completely fantastic story and it shows in the cartoony directing/cinematography/acting.

"Direction (by James Wong) is very much like a Stephen Sommers job."

Hum... no, I'm a film major and it isn't. Stephen Sommer's directing is confusing and his shots are badly constructed. James Wong is a lot more agile with his camera, the fight scenes are clear and flow naturally (except the fight in the Volcano scene which was edited for rating reasons) and the directing in the Kamehameha scene was both epic and cartoony at the same time.

"You shoot a wall and it blows up in a huge explosion. You shoot a man with the same gun and he gets knocked on his ass and passes out… riiiight…"

Goku is not 'a man'... he's an alien... Have you been paying any attention? His incredible strength is at the core of the story. The way he carried that huge bag on his shoulders? And ran with it at the speed of the motorcycle throughout the desert? How he could stand upside down on a moving vehicle with one hand? How he could pass through a rock and fall on the ground and still be okay? How he totally passed through Piccolo's energy beam with his Kamehameha..? etc. etc. This is Goku from Dragon Ball...

"Then there is the high school hot chic that dates jocks suddenly changes pace and "likes different", as in the main character, and is also a martial artist. Sorry, but last I checked hot chics that date jocks don't all of the sudden go for the dorky spiky haired guy."

She was putting on a mask in front of the high school crowd because she was afraid of being rejected because she was different. She date the high school jock and hung out with the popular crowd because that was safe. When she realized Goku shared her passion for fighting and her fear of being rejected for being different, she could finally be herself. I'm not saying this is the greatest character development ever I'm just saying it makes sense within the context of the movie, what's to criticize in that except it's not original?

Anyway, that was for the explanation part, but you don't mention the cinematography and the music of the movie. These are, I think, major aspects on which this movie should be reviewed.

JAS on Sat, 08/22/2009 - 3:09pm

Answering the comments above in the same order they were asked:

Then I guess I should write it out as Yun-Chow Fat. (edit to article incoming)

I understand that the movie was supposed to come off as a live action cartoon, but These convenient moments bother me in any story. There are better ways to write it so that things don't come off as coincidental to the point of convenience.

I also studied film as did some of our other editors. I can agree that Wong is more agile with his camera in a way that shows more expertise than Sommers. In this case, he still makes a film that is very Sommers-like in that it is a lot of flash and little content - both due to story and direction. This, of course, is just referring to this film and not any of his other work, of which I have only seen Final Destination.

Goku is not a man. You are aright about that, but even then I felt this just looked wrong when you see a wall blow up and then him get knocked out (ok, maybe more than just knocked out, but still). There should have been some mention of this by the other characters like the 20-something year old PHD. Not that I like to be spoon fed, but still.

I have to argue with this logic of her just conforming. Sure I can see how someone would pretend to be something else in high school, so that she is not ostracized, but she was dating a jock. I will say that pretty much entails that there is some sexual contact there as why would a jock not expect a little something. This makes me respect her character way less as a person as she is basically putting herself in a potentially (and likely) undesirable sexual situation merely for the sake of being accepted? Is this what we want kids watching in a cartoony movie? Furthermore, if this was the case then do you think she would really invite Goku to her party? Wouldn't she just ignore him or only talk to him when no one is looking?

I have thought about including more about the score in our reviews, but in this case I can say I didn't notice it. In that case, I can say that it was not very obvious and sat in the background to enhance the scenes which is what a score should always do.

Cinematography is decent considering the choice in direction, but then most audiences that read our reviews might not be interested in that aspect unless it is either really poor or really great.

Thanks for reading and commenting!

Que on Sun, 08/23/2009 - 6:00pm

first let me clear a thing out for you dear Jas, Chow Yun Fat's surname is Chow, given name is Yun Fat. so you can call him either Chow Yun Fat as in chinese way, surname first, or Yun Fat Chow as in western way, first name first, but never Yun-Chow Fat or Fat Chow Yun, cos that is messed up.

secondly, it is good to know you movie-major boys are having fun throwing cinematography terms, but I am not movie-major, and I don't care if this guy is 5% more agile then that guy. If the movie is empty and stupid, good cinematography doesn't change anything. being a syfy movie rubbed in some alien contents, it is even more likely that movie makers just get lazy and expect you to reason everything with alien/syfy theory. Fantasy movies takes just as much effort to make good than any other type, if not more. If a movie is dropping the intelligence bar to fit for 15 yr olds, it is even more likely for the movie to attempt selling 'cinematography' and saturated with cheesy school-love lines and Wall-blowing-gun-push-the-guy-on-his-butt stuff. if that stuff made sense in comic books but not in the movie, then the movie is NO GOOD.

I went through dragon ball comic books in my earlier time and loved it. these days I am very careful, as Tomb raider ruined tomb raider and max payne ruined max payne for me. Dragon ball the movie is currently in the same basket with legend of Chuinli, I really have the soft spot for watching them but I don't have the guts really. so I can't comment on the movie it self.

but general rules apply. and you know what it is.

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