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Not Rated
Copyright 1993 Filmswell International Limited
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 17 October 2001

The Characters:  

  • Monkey Boy - Laugh while you can! Hahahaha! Seriously though, this moderately invincible fighter is a perfect example why home schooling is dangerous.
  • Westwood - Brigand with a parrot named Snow White. He roams the land, killing people for their meager belongings (this is Southeast Asia). Believe it or not, he is one of the good guys!
  • Turtle Man - Lecherous old coot that wears the shell of an endangered species on his back.
  • Seetoe - She had this whole Indiana Jones/cowgirl thing going on in the beginning, it was weird.
  • Jade - Young girl. Pretty much useless except that she is the sole surviving member of her village.
  • The Pig-Headed Wizard - Descendent of the Pig Fairy (eh, er, what?) who can change his shape at will. He is a pervert, so a good measure of this talent is probably put to use doppleganging women he finds attractive.
  • Grandpa - To Monkey Boy. Look for the man with the big hair and birth control glasses.
  • King Horn - Okay, other than the fact that he can pass something three inches in diameter through his body (you know what I mean) and insists on wearing a massive latex mask, what do we really know about the movie's antagonist?
  • Horn's Army - Dozens of shiny silver people led by two evil captains. Zebrata is a huge, sunglass-wearing brute and Malila is an androgynous blonde. Both die, along with the troops.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

I am no true connoisseur of "Dragonball," though I was watching the series ten years ago (courtesy of tapes sent from Japan). Still, it quickly became obvious that the live action film took certain liberties. To verify my appraisal, I showed the film to a pair of Sayan disciples. Their reaction varied between outright revulsion to frothing hatred, interspersed with pointing at the screen and screaming "blasphemy!" Obviously, my hunch was right.

Open with Jade's father accepting the holy task of safeguarding the dragon pearl that has brought their village years of peace and prosperity. Not certain how you feel about it, but worshipping something that looks like a knickknack you might find in a dollar store is not my bag. The ceremony has just started when King Horn's troops attack. Thatch huts explode in spectacular fireballs as close air support covers the ground troops' advance. What sort of military objective is a hut made from dried reeds anyway? Geez! Predictably, the warlord marches in and demands the dragon pearl, then kills everyone when they try to resist. Jade hearkens to the creed of Sir Robin and wisely decides to run away.

Cut to Monkey Boy being tested by his grandfather. The old man worries that some evil force might try to steal their dragon pearl (foreshadowing: heavy art thou hands). Only through perfection of their martial arts can its safety be guaranteed. Indeed, the young warrior proves adept at fighting, especially when using the magic pole that can change size on command. Monkey Boy loses the competition though and is sent to find dinner; he is arguing with Seetoe while gramps is getting the bejeezus beaten out of him by Zebrata and Malila. The two kids arrive long after the bad guys have left. Grandpa and his sacred dragon pearl are nowhere to be found.

Notice that the Goku proxy character is fighting machine guns with kung fu. He learns quickly that being peppered with lead projectiles of varying sizes, traveling at supersonic speeds, is painful. Not lethal, but painful. After the first few times, Monkey Boy begins using his magic pole as a spinning shield against ballistic attacks. It works, so what can I say?

We are missing a few characters at this point. In quick succession Piggy (briefly disguised as an aborigine), Jade, and Westwood are bundled on. I'm not even going to mention that annoying parrot. Westwood is made more endearing by being scared to death of pretty girls and Seetoe immediately develops a crush on him. This allows for all sorts of levity as he tries to fight with Monkey Boy, but the young lady keeps causing distractions. Eventually Westwood just gives up and flees.

The group, minus Westwood who is sulking, decides to find the Turtle Man and ask for his help. Well, the hermit's house is on a small desert island - they got something right there. However, the ludicrous musical dance he performs when summoning the magic cloud is not to be missed. It comes complete with the old master ordering the cloud to find "pretty girls" and being dumped on his keister. Westwood preceded the others to fabricate a story about someone coming to challenge the Turtle Man. When the group arrives it takes no small amount of time to sort things out. Finally they finish fighting and arguing, just in time for Zebrata and Malila to show up with their air support (hmmm... ...the aircraft looks like half of a cloud car). The evil guys destroy most of the island and take the three dragon pearls.

Did I forget to mention that every major character possessed a dragon pearl when the movie began? Oh yes. Jade (well, it was her dad's), King Horn, Monkey Boy and grandfather, Westwood, Turtle Man, Seetoe, and Piggy are all the proud owners of cheap baubles with stars scratched onto them. At this point the Pig-Headed Wizard reveals to the others his dragon pearl, because he believes "the time is right." Hello? Idiot? They have lost every other one that fate had blessed them with! What is this boy thinking?

A desperate plan is hatched to defeat King Horn and his army. Piggy dresses up like Rambo (boy, didn't need to see that) and leads the assault on Jade's village, now the bad guy's base of operations. There is a large volume of gunfire and a lot of explosions; you will be surprised to see Horn's standard troops killed by the dozens. Many are mowed down by machine guns, with the others largely casualties of Turtle Man's energy blasts. Monkey Boy and Westwood pick off a few stragglers with their melee weapons. It is probably more believable than the Sayans using superhuman powers to dispatch the evil Army, but I wanted to see bone-breaking kung fu and people powering up!

King Horn appraises the situation before joining the fray, wisely planning ahead in case the good guys get the upper hand. He tries bartering with Monkey Boy's grandfather for starters, but that doesn't work so he punts the old geezer and summons the dead townsfolk to attack. The heroes are unable to bring themselves to fight against the innocent zombies! Only Monkey Boy's courageous charge, skimming the crowd on his magic cloud, causes the overlord to lose control of his puppets. Meanwhile, Grandpa and Turtle Man deduce that the six dragon pearls are in King Horn's stomach. With Monkey Boy's help they ram the seventh down his gullet; the dragon spontaneously generates inside the poor man's Freeza and that spells death.

Oh yeah - I love that special effect dragon! Does anyone have some sarcasm that I can borrow? Seems that I'm fresh out...

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Buddhist monks, when threatened, will form a protective circle. (Just like musk oxen!)
  • Crocodiles are a species of fish.
  • Boys who touch girls are called "rapists."
  • Arguing with a parrot is useless.
  • Turtles are bowlegged.
  • Masters of kung fu can shoot lasers or particle beams out of their hands.
  • Never hide something that expands into a huge dragon in your stomach.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 7 mins - I believe that it would be correct to say he possesses "the" four-star dragon pearl.
  • 8 mins - Forget the grammar lesson. This movie has bigger issues.
  • 24 mins - They have big guns and armored personnel carriers. You have a jeep and a wooden stick. Can you say, "forgone conclusion?" Good, I knew you could!
  • 35 mins - Nope, no rubber sword here.
  • 48 mins - What gave him away? The big freaking turtle shell on his back?
  • 58 mins - Piggy should change those socks.
  • 66 mins - Notice the cameraman's reflection in Turtle Man's glasses.
  • 73 mins - There is a flaw in the logic here...

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note dragonball1.wav Monkey Boy: "Granddad, with this magic pole I can protect you and the pearl from any invaders!"
Grandpa: "Hehehe, good! The dragon pearl and the magic pole are precious family treasures. We can't let them be stolen from us."
Green Music Note dragonball2.wav Seetoe: "Hey, you can't touch me!"
Monkey Boy: "Hmmm? Why, grandpa said that too. He said a boy mustn't touch a girl. He said that those who do are called..."
Both: "Rapists!"
Monkey Boy: "That's right!"
Green Music Note dragonball3.wav Piggy: "Actually, I might look strong, but I've got the heart of a chicken. Please don't hit me anymore sir, I'm scared!"
Green Music Note dragonball4.wav Monkey Boy: "Why did you lie to Turtle Man and say I want to fight him?"
Westwood: "You said you wanted to meet him!"
Monkey Boy: "Yeah, but that doesn't mean I want to fight him!"
Turtle Man: "Hey! That's enough, don't argue."
Green Music NoteTheme Song Listen to a clip from the soundtrack.

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipdragonball1.mpg - 3.2m
After some opening gunfire, the fight between Monkey Boy, Westwood, and Malila (with the two boys against the "girl") is showing some promise. Then Piggy shoots her full of holes with an M-16! Just the sort of movie that impressionable Colorado high school students need to watch.

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Comments:Write CommentPages: 1 ... 5 6 [7]
Re: Dragonball: The Magic Begins
Reply #49. Posted on September 24, 2008, 12:29:38 PM by Alexsource
I watched this movie twice, and I both think it's incredibly funny, and a disgrace to DB.

I don't know if it has elements from the journey to the west wich DB skips or not, nut, as many other posters said, it undenniably has *A LOT* of stuff wich too similar to the first chapters of DB to be ignored.

BTW, I've always tought the main badguy looked like a weird mix between Pilaf and Piccollo  Twirling

Heads up! The fox produced db movie looks like it's gonna suck, but for enterily different reasons. Daredevil-like reasons, but more so, if possible.
Re: Dragonball: The Magic Begins
Reply #50. Posted on October 05, 2008, 05:40:31 PM by Intangible Skeleton
Even this review couldn't prepare me for how awesome the movie was.

The fight scenes were actually pretty impressive in a whacked out Wuzia way, and the special effects... boy were they special. And is "Monkey Boy" played by a girl? Also I swear Grandpa actually calls him Goku at one point near the end.

The highlight has to be Turtle Hermit, that guy is the man. They nailed that character to a T. He's a pervert with a funky groove. I actually think this movie is more accurate to Dragonball than the new one will be, and I can say already that this one is the more entertaining movie.
Re: Dragonball: The Magic Begins
Reply #51. Posted on October 30, 2008, 08:52:12 PM by Bojik Arc
   Wow....if this is how bad a live-action anime turns out, I shudder to think what the live action Avatar will be like...
   I've never been a fan of anime, let alone live-action versions of anime, but when I saw this....this....I cannot even put it into words.  Drink  I am NEVER going on the Winamp channel EVER AGAIN.
Re: Dragonball: The Magic Begins
Reply #52. Posted on July 17, 2009, 02:49:21 PM by Cinnamon Revenge
well, I see this is a very old topic, but I found this site searching for this movie... I think it's way better then DragonBall Evolution... The movie was made 1989 what did you expect? I don't agree with your bad critics, it's a funny movie and has good fighting scenes... It's originally in Japanese, so blame the one who translated it for the bad grammar or mistakes...
You said you're not a big fan, but you should understand that the movie is not meant to be realistic... Flying clouds, magic and the Kame hame ha wave are part of the story, and Goku has superhuman power and that's the reason why he can stand bullets with kung fu...
well, I just had to say my opinion  Twirling
Re: Dragonball: The Magic Begins
Reply #53. Posted on July 17, 2009, 02:57:11 PM by Cinnamon Revenge
Still, it quickly became obvious that the live action film took certain liberties.

it's a remake of the anime movie Dragon Ball: Curse of the Blood Rubies


Curse of the Blood Rubies is a modified adaptation of the gathering of the initial story arc in the Dragon Ball manga, with the original character King Gourmeth substituting Emperor Pilaf's role as the main antagonist. Like in the manga, Curse of the Blood Rubies depicts how Goku meets up with Bulma, Yamcha, Oolong, and Puar during his first search for the Dragon Balls.

ha!  Twirling
Re: Dragonball: The Magic Begins
Reply #54. Posted on March 11, 2012, 04:21:27 PM by Dnaix
Although this movie was kinda bad and inaccurate, I still felt it to be pretty funny at times.Compared to the newest live action movie,DB Evolution,there is no contest....the Magic Begins was a lot better. Especially taking into account how long ago this movie was made,and lack of special effects technology.Even with Goku begin played by a girl(i think?). So in my opinion, if you go watch Evolution first,then this movie will actually be a welcomed relief from the pain that you'd just endured.Only then could you appreciate how much better of a job was done in this movie...... seriously!!! Evolution sucked dragonballs!!!     
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