Dragonball Evolution

Movie review by
James Rocchi, Common Sense Media
Dragonball Evolution Movie Poster Image
Movie based on anime series has lots of martial arts action.
  • PG
  • 2009
  • 84 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 19 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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 co... Continue reading
Adult Written bykateybird98 June 11, 2021
Horrible movie
Teen, 14 years old Written byDio_ova February 22, 2021

just straight garbage

its a really bad movie just show your kids the actual anime or manga
Teen, 14 years old Written byR-Tik Jack November 12, 2020

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love Action and Fantasy

Themes & Topics

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