Dragonball Super Movie: Broly (Cert PG)
1 Disc DVD/Blu-ray – 2 Disc Blu-ray Steelbook (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 101 minutes approx
The creation of Akira Toriyama shows no signs of letting up 35 years on from debuting as a manga and 33 years after the first TV anime adaptation. If further proof were needed of its status as an evergreen classic winning new generations of fans, this latest spin-off film is the one of the highest grossing anime films of all time, including taking over £1 million at the UK box office!
Boasting a story by Toriyama himself, the first big screen adventure to come from under the Dragonball Super umbrella features the return of a foe who originally appeared in a Dragonball Z TV special trilogy, the Super Saiyan Broly. The first half of this film presents a revamped look at Broly’s origins which also takes in those of Son Goku and Vegeta, as their histories are show to intertwine, along with legendary villain Frieza.
Opening with the events of 41 years prior to the current Dragonball Super timeline, King Cold pays a visit to Planet Vegeta to announce his retirement and the handing of the reins over to his son Frieza. Meanwhile King Vegeta believes his son will be powerful enough to free the Sayians from Frieza’s tyranny, until he discovers a baby with even greater potential powers, named Broly.
In a fit of jealousy, King Vegeta exiles Broly to the remote planet Vampa but his father Paragus follows him, vowing to raise Broly as a warrior and extract his revenge against Vegeta. Five years later, a Saiyan named Bardock is suspicious of Frieza and sends his baby son Kakarot (aka Son Goku) to safety on planet Earth, moments before Frieza destroys Planet Vegeta, wiping out the entire Saiayn race, save for Broly, Paragus, Kararot, his brother Raditz and Vegeta, who were on another planet at the time.
Fast forward to the present day and six of the seven Dragonballs in Bulma’s possession at her office have been stolen by Frieza’s henchmen. Locating the seventh in the Antarctic, Bulma, Goku, Vegeta and Whis head off hoping to arrive before Frieza does. At the same time, Broly and Paragus are rescued from Vampa by two of Freiza’s solders and are manipulated by Frieza to fight for him against Goku and Vegeta.
And that is roughly the first 45 minutes or so of the film which might seem like a huge disappointment given the well-earned reputation the Dragonball franchise has for its ear splitting, eye popping, bombastic fight sequences. Fear not, as the next 45 minutes is pretty much just that, this time presented in its best looking form yet thanks to modern animation techniques.
Before, the fights were a flurry of punches and kicks and a plethora of bright explosions as bodies and super powered shots collided but thanks to CGI, they now take on a more cinematic approach. The camera is able to move around the fighters and with them as they move about, creating a more fluid and immersive visual experience, whilst allowing the animators greater creativity with the varied arsenals of the combatants.
No doubt, this was a spectacle to behold on the big screen but it holds up just as well on Blu-ray. It is interesting how Dragonball is one of the rare instances of a property being able to update its aesthetic and not lose an ounce of integrity or its original look or design. The characters look exactly the same only with a cleaner sheen to them and the improved technology means the fantasy backgrounds can now be done justice, like the fight scenes.
The biggest test of this film however is whether the story will hold up for hardcore fans, being a half-retread of an earlier outing and a half-visual spectacle. The Broly backstory is quite fascinating, due in part to the insight it gives us to the world of the Saiyans and their people. It certainly has the promise to be worthy of deeper exploration but that would depend entirely on Toriyama.
Likely to surprise people is how the Saiyans weren’t exactly nice people, willingly doing the bidding of King Cold, and subsequently Frieza, in annexing other planets, taking lives if necessary. The Saiyans may have been under Cold’s control but their nature is clearly delineated as similarly ruthless – King Vegeta’s response to Broly being potentially more powerful than his own son is a testament to that.
In that regard, it is something of an achievement that Bardock and in turn Goku turned out to be far more benevolent than their peers whilst revealing all about the abrasive chip on Vegeta’s shoulder, which has barely subsided even though he is a good guy now. Paragus showed signs of humanity closer to this begging for King Vegeta not to exile his son and his knee-jerk sacrificial act to pursue Broly to Vampa, leaving behind a wife to perish when Freiza destroyed Vegeta.
Along with this retrospective tale of askew morality and drama, there is the trademark Dragonball humour, thankfully of the smut free variety with Master Roshi’s absence, but nonetheless true to its more playful side. During the big fight against Broly and Frieza, both Goku and Vegeta come up short despite reaching Super Saiyan Blue Mode, and are forced to fuse together – if only they could get the Fusion Dance right…
Regardless of whatever iteration we are in of the Dragonball franchise at the moment, it always finds a way to deliver what the fans want and expect from it and this film is no different. However, there is a slight chance that it might fall short of lofty expectations based on its phenomenal box office success, especially here in the UK, coming second to Spirited Away as the highest grossing anime film on these shores.
The best way to approach Dragonball Super Movie: Broly is to presume you will get exactly what you want from it, thus you’ll either be delighted with the results or find your expectations exceeded. Either way it’s undeniably great fun!
English Language 5.1 DTS-HD MA
Japanese Language 5.1 DTS-HD MA
English Language 2.0 Stereo LPCM
Japanese Language 2.0 Stereo LPCM
English HOH Subtitles
Exclusive Sainsbury’s Limited Edition DVD/Blu-ray
Four Art Cards
Limited Edition Collector’s Blu-ray
Four Character Stickers
Rating – *** ½
Man In Black