Dragonball: Evolution (PG) ½

Review Date: April 13th, 2009


The Americanization of Anime. This long-awaited (and long-on-the-shelf) live-action rendition of the popular Japanese graphic novel series by Akira Toriyama is a spectacularly silly, laugh-out-loud abomination that begs, borrows and steals from a wide variety of sci-fi and fantasy predecessors in telling the "epic" (ha!) story of Goku (Justin Chatwin), a young warrior destined to do battle with the forces of evil in pursuit of seven mystical "Dragon Balls" that entitle the bearer to absolute superiority over the universe. Or something like that. It really doesn't matter, although all the talk about the power of the "Dragon Balls" does yield some hearty laughs — for all the wrong reasons.


A lot of actors who probably wish they weren't. Chief among them is Chow Yun-Fat, continuing his unlucky streak in American films. Wearing a perennial smile and a loud Hawaiian shirt, he acts as the de-facto mentor for our hero, dispensing words of wisdom (in some universe, undoubtedly) and occasionally executing some fancy martial-arts moves. Even for Chow's most ardent admirers, it's not enough. Emmy Rossum (who perhaps should have known better) and Jamie Chung provide some eye candy alongside Chatwin as fellow female warriors, while a green-skinned James Marsters growls and snarls as the film's resident villain, the megalomaniacal Piccolo (now there's a name that's sure to make audiences shudder). Ernie Hudson's in it, too — and even manages to hold onto his dignity. This is not a film that many, if any, of the participants are going to be touting on their resumes anytime soon — if at all.


Extremely little. To its (dis)credit, Dragonball Evolution does murder time. You'll never get those 90 minutes back again. If it comes down to seeing this or seeing your dentist, keep the latter appointment.


Where to begin? The script … the acting … the direction … the editing. Several scenes have been cut with such frenzied abandon that it's nearly impossible to ascertain precisely what's going on. Fans of the original Dragonball series may have a head start — and this rendition may well disappoint or infuriate them — but neophytes and newcomers will have a hard time determining precisely what's going on. Not that it matters much. Even by the campiest of comic-books standards, this is a shoddy effort. The brief running time (under 90 minutes) is a dead giveaway that the studio's shears were put to work, and the timing of its release by Fox indicates that the studio was perhaps trying to make some quick pre-summer coin in advance of Wolverine, especially given Chatwin's Wolv-like coif.


"The first rule is: There are no rules."

"Somebody stole my Prometheum Orb."

"Prepare to eat dirt."

"Teach me how to be normal."

"The Dragon Balls are in my grasp!"


See above.


Make a movie with "ball" or "balls" in the title — especially if it's a bad movie.


If you absolutely have to see this movie, see it with friends. And, please, make one of them the designated driver.

Hollywood.com rated this film 1/2 star.