This story is based on the popular Japanese manga cartoons created by Akira Toriyama. The movie begins with a legend. Lord Piccolo (James Marsters) wishes to rule the earth. In doing so, he will destroy it. A group of warriors band together and bind Lord Piccolo into the earth. They use seven magic dragonballs, which are then distributed throughout the world.
Goku (Justin Chatwin) lives with his grandfather (Randall Duk Kim), who is training him to be an expert in martial arts. Like all true fighters, Goku is told not to rely on his external senses but to rely on what is inside him – to use his ‘ki’. On Goku’s 18th birthday, his grandfather gives him a dragonball. Goku is happy to have it but it does not mean much to him. Goku never knew his parents but at his 18th birthday dinner, his grandfather will tell him what really happened to them.
At school, Goku is considered a geek and a weirdo, but he is very keen on Chi Chi (Jamie Chung). When he gets to school, his bike is run over by one of a group of ‘cool’ boys who bully him. When he does not fight back, it is seen as proof that he is scared. In fact, Goku has promised his grandfather he will not fight ‘boys’. Later on, when Chi Chi cannot open her locker, Goku helps her by using his ‘ki’. He tries to hide but she sees him and is impressed, and appears to understand how he did this. She invites him to her party.
Every year, Goku and his grandfather celebrate his birthday together. This year, however, he goes to Chi Chi’s party (without telling his grandfather) and at the last minute takes the dragonball with him. Once he gets there he is again bullied, but this time he fights back. While this is happening, Lord Piccolo descends on Goku’s grandfather’s house. When he finds the dragonball missing, he attacks Goku's grandfather and destroys the house. Goku feels that there is something wrong and races back to find his grandfather buried in the house. Just before Goku’s grandfather dies, he tells Goku that Lord Piccolo has returned and that Goku needs to find Master Roshi and the other dragonballs to defeat him. Goku is very sad and guilty that he was not there to help his grandfather.
Goku decides to pursue Lord Piccolo to avenge his grandfather’s death. On the way, he is helped by Bulma (Emmy Rossum), who has invented a dragonball tracker after her father’s dragonball was stolen (also by Lord Piccolo). She hopes to get it back and use it as a form of energy. Together, Goku and Bulma find Master Roshi (Chow Yun Fat) and are joined by a charismatic thief called Yamcha (Joon Park). These four work together to track the dragonballs.
While this is happening, Goku’s romance with Chi Chi develops and she tries to help him improve and perfect his fighting skills. He eventually comes face to face with Lord Piccolo. Only by being true to himself and remembering his training can Goku hope to defeat Lord Piccolo.
The supernatural; death of a family member
This movie contains frequent violent scenes. For example:
- Grandfather teaches Goku to fight, so there are several martial arts fighting scenes.
- A couple of boys deliberately run over Goku’s bike and then threaten him.
- Lord Piccolo attacks and destroys a village to find one of the dragonballs. A mother and daughter are hiding with the dragonball. Piccolo’s henchwoman finds them and holds a gun to the mother’s head after asking her to kneel.
- At Chi Chi’s party, Goku fights back when the cool boys pick on him. This scene involves a lot of punching and kicking (martial arts style) and also the use of an iron bar.
- Lord Piccolo attacks Goku’s grandfather. He throws him around the room and then smashes his house, burying him inside the house.
- There are several further martial arts scenes. For example, there is one between Goku and Master Roshi, and one between Chi Chi and Lord Piccolo’s henchwoman.
- At one point, the four main characters are attacked by some nasty creatures created by Lord Piccolo. The characters defeat them by throwing them into lava.
- Goku turns into a monster and tries to attack the others.
- Lord Piccolo and Goku attack each other.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under eight. For example:
- There are several scenes with very loud sound effects, including explosions.
- Several scary scenes depict monsters.
- Goku turns into a scary and vicious-looking monster.
- Goku returns to the house and finds his grandfather dead.
- In one scene, the characters have to cross molten lava.
- A giant, menacing mountain rises out of the ground with Lord Piccolo at the top.
- A scary dragon appears at the end of the movie. Even though the dragon is there to do good, the image could worry young children.
Some of the scenes described above could also scare younger children in this age group.
Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie.
None of concern
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
This movie contains some use of substances. For example, at Chi Chi’s party, there is the suggestion that characters are drinking alcohol.
Nudity and sexual activity
This movie contains some nudity and sexual activity, including when Goku and Chi Chi kiss a couple of times, the second time quite passionately.
None of concern
This movie contains no coarse language, although it does contain some verbal insults and put-downs.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Dragonball is an action adventure story based on characters created by Akira Toriyama and featured in graphic novels and a TV series. It is aimed at a teenage audience.
The main message from this movie is that you can do the right thing only by being true to what you believe in. Values in this movie that you might wish to reinforce with your children include the importance of:
- trusting people you care about
- loyalty to friends and family
- resolving issues without violence.