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Dragonball: Evolution

(originally posted by Jamie Kelwick at his own site -- www.the-usher.com.)

Based on the hit Japanese Manga and Anime series Dragonball, a big screen version of the stories that started in the 1980s has been a long time coming for fans. Everything is here for the filmmakers to get to grips with: Martial arts, alien invasion, mysticism, monsters, air-bending magic and the end of the world. When you discover that James Wong, writer from The X-Files and the man at the helm of Final Destination, and Stephen Chow, the Hong Kong superstar behind Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle, are behind the film, hopes could be raised high. But unfortunately what we have here is a complete mess that resembles the worst that even the 80s had to offer.

While the story may be based on the Manga and the Anime series, it is a complete mess with some of the most awful dialogue that graced the silver screen in a long time. Our hero is Goku, a young man about to turn eighteen who is ignored at High School but has been secretly training in martial arts with his Grandfather for most of his life.

Unbeknownst to him, an ancient evil has returned after 2,000 years to wreak revenge on the Earth for his defeat at the hands of some Monk's magic. He is a Namekian, an alien called Lord Piccolo. No, you did read that correctly and yes, it doesn't sound very evil or intimidating. He needs to find the seven Dragonballs. When brought together, these balls bring forth the dragon Shen Long who will grant the bearer a perfect wish.

Of course Lord Piccolo (stop laughing) will use this wish to devastate the Earth but it just happens to be Goku's destiny to stop him. This might sound like it should provide a fun martial arts and fantasy filled adventure and probably for children under the age of ten, it just might. But for anyone else who like some kind of sense in their stories, this just comes across as a complete mess.

The cast isn't helped by some truly dreadful dialogue. Justin Chatwin, who you might remember as the extremely annoying Robbie, Tom Cruise's son who you wanted to die in 'War of the Worlds', utters most of the worst lines and proves that he is an actor that really isn't a leading man. Emmy Rossum had a promising career with appearances in 'The Day After Tomorrow' and 'The Phantom of the Opera' but as technology and weapons expert Bulma Briefs (stop laughing again), she really takes a step in the wrong direction.

Japanese pop superstar Eriko Tamura has very little to do except fight as Piccolo's enforcer Mia. Randall Duk Kim is suitably cast as Goku's grandfather. TV favourite James Marsters tries his best as the as the villain, but you just can't take him seriously with the name Lord Piccolo.

It is the inclusion of Asian superstar Chow Yun-Fat that is the biggest shock however. Watching the star of such classics as 'Hard-Boiled', 'The Killer', 'A Better Tomorrow' and 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon' delivering this incomprehensible dialogue is a real travesty.

'Dragonball: Evolution' is a mess of a movie and one that makes films like 'Streetfighter' and 'Super Mario Brothers' look like works of genius. While the under 10s might enjoy the martial arts and seeing their cartoon heroes brought to life, the rest of the audience have to endure a movie that makes no sense, poses more questions than it answers and will have you laughing at how bad the dialogue and the story can really be.

Jamie Kelwick

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