Dragonball Evolution



Movie based on anime series has lots of martial arts action.
  • Review Date: July 27, 2009
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2009
  • Running Time: 84 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Like other epic fantasy films, the movie's messages are generally positive: Have faith in yourself, you can do anything, willpower can triumph over anger, and so on. But whether kids will absorb that amid all the high kicks and karate chops is another matter. One character is a thief, but he's presented, briefly, as more of a lovable brigand a la Han Solo. There are several strong female characters.


Constant martial arts action, with more emphasis on ducking, dodging, and diving than on brutality and bloodshed. Fights and scuffling, and two blodless deaths (one of which is reversed). Some futuristic sci-fi gunplay, but no impacts or blood. There's also lots of energy bolt hurling/combat and combat with martial arts weapons -- throwing stars, staffs, etc. When supernatural beings are cut in two, they regenerate before being hurled into lava. A martial artist is attacked with metal rods; he dodges the blows so adroitly that his attackers only hurt themselves.


Mild kissing; some flirting, cleavage, and sexual tension.


Words include "hell," "damn," "crap," "fart," "sucks," "oh my God," and an incomplete use of "s--t."


No real-world brands are mentioned, but the movie is an adaptation of the popular anime/manga series, so in a sense, the whole thing is an ad for the Dragonball franchise (which includes plenty of products).

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this live-action adaptation of the popular anime/comic book/video game series has lots of martial arts action. There's not much blood, but expect plenty of fighting, weapons (throwing stars, staffs, futuristic guns, etc.), and even a couple of deaths (though one is reversed). Characters also flirt and kiss and use some mildly salty language ("damn," "hell," and the like). And while there isn't any obvious product placement in the movie, the film itself could be considered one big ad for all the existing Dragonball merchandise out there.

What's the story?

Raised by his kindly grandfather, Goku (Justin Chatwick) doesn't know where his mom and dad are -- but he's been told that when he's 18, all will be revealed. Unfortunately, that birthday coincides with the evil alien warlord Piccolo's (James Marsters) escape from thousands of years of bondage in search of seven spheres of power -- Dragonballs. According to his grandfather, Goku must hurry to gather the Dragonballs with the aid of a martial arts master (Chow Yun-Fat) a tech-savvy entrepreneur (Emmy Rossum), a rogue (Joon Park), and his high-kicking dreamgirl (Jamie Chung) ... before Piccolo does.

Is it any good?


Parents will definitely zone out during DRAGONBALL EVOLUTION, if only because it's nothing they haven't seen a thousand times already. The plot and characters feel lifted wholesale from other, better fantasy epics like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, and the normally welcome presence of Yun-Fat is not, regrettably, enough to make the proceedings fun for grown-ups.

That said, there's a strong chance kids will love it; the story is easy to follow, and there's plenty of bloodless mayhem to keep things moving through the mercifully brief running time. Also to the film's credit? A slightly more evolved sense of gender equity than most kids' action films (there are plenty of strong female characters who are more than just eye-candy or romantic interests). Dragonball Evolution will impress young fans, but anyone older than 10 who doesn't already know and love the source material will find it a chore -- and a bore.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why kids want to see the movie -- is it because of the specific story or because it's part of the Dragonball franchise? 

  • Why do you think the filmmakers chose to make a live-action movie instead of an animated one? 

  • Does any of the violence seem more serious because the characters are real people? Why or why not?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 10, 2009
DVD release date:July 28, 2009
Cast:Chow Yun-Fat, Emmy Rossum, Justin Chatwin
Director:James Wong
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures
Run time:84 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:intense sequences of action/violence and brief mild language

This review of Dragonball Evolution was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written bynduns January 23, 2010

Those hating on this movie are doing it for the wrong reasons

First of all, this movie's based off of the original Dragon Ball, not DBZ like many assume it is... yeah... Ignoring all the soccermom/oversensitive kid complaints and the deluded fanboy ravings where people trick themselves into believing this is a good adaptation, this movie is an insult to any DB fan. On the contrary with another reviewer, this movie's okay for newbies but fans will hate it. They got only 5-10% of it right. Everything else was so inaccurate it's incredible. But as a movie alone, it's still rather average. Some of the action scenes look good, I'll give it that, but otherwise, the plot's pretty weak, it suffers from a NUMBER of cliches and, well, aside from a couple of cool action sequences it doesn't offer much. Now, normally, I don't get at adaptations for inaccuracies. I usually try to look past them and just enjoy the movie. Sadly, there were WAY too many inaccuracies in this and even as a stand-alone title, it wasn't that good. Die-hard will find themselves ticked off and yelling at almost every scene in the movie while newbies will get a minor thrill from it, but that's just how I see it.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Kid, 11 years old July 13, 2011


I have a friend who is a big fan of the show and he ALSO said that this movie sucks. This movie was so terrible that i did not even watch this in theaters, I watched it on COMCAST ONDEMAND!!!! $2.99 DOWN DA DRAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And I cannot believe that I'm giving this movie 1 star on CSM. I'M ONLY GIVING 1 STAR IN CSM, BUT IN REAL LIFE I GIVE THIS A 0/5. This movie sucked, end of story.
Teen, 14 years old Written byShadowofchaos41 May 11, 2012

I liked it

It was awesome.The overall story is you can do it and basically a positive message and strong brave characters. I liked it a lot hope they make a sequel :D
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing


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