08/12/2013

Dragon Ball Z: The World's Strongest (1990)

Film: Dragon Ball Z: The World's Strongest (Doragon bôru Z: Kono yo de ichiban tsuyoi yatsu)
Release: 1990, theatrical
Starring: Sean Schemmel, Stephanie Nadolny, R. Bruce Elliot
Directed by: Daisuke Nishio
Previous in the series: Dragon Ball Z: The Dead Zone
Next in the series: Dragon Ball Z: The Tree of Might
IMDB page: Link opens in a new window
Description: The aging Dr. Kochin gathers the Dragon Balls and decides to wish for the resurrection of his mentor, the most brilliant and villainous mind the world has ever seen, Dr. Wheelo.

Hans' thoughts:

The second movie to be based on the Dragon Ball Z series, this movie once again doesn't seem to fit in anywhere particular in the overall timeline. However if it were to based completely on their looks and power levels I would wager somewhere during the attack of the Saiyans. The World's Strongest tells the story of the resurrection of a brilliant but slightly mad scientist called Dr. Wheelo. The man's body did not survive the restoration process however and he is nothing but a living brain able to communicate through machinery, he decides he wants to be the most powerful man in the world so he sends his people out to find the world's strongest man - whom he believes to Master Roshi, due to the many years that have passed since he was alive. While you can certainly question why Dr. Wheelo and his henchmen didn't just look up "The World's Strongest" in a modern day encyclopedia to find out that Master Roshi hasn't held the title for years, it makes for an interesting concept that someone would actually have a beef with Roshi. 


However good setup does not a good plotline make and Dr. Wheelo as a villain did not interest me in the slightest. His character design is never really shown due to the dark coloring of the movie and once he becomes the actual action villain of the piece he is taken out so quickly that it felt like a big load of nothing. This movie is a prime example of good concept but ridiculously poor execution. His underlings aren't especially interesting to look at either, some of them look like a barebones recolor of the saibamen from the Saiyan attack in the main series, while his elite squad of 3 fighters all look like they could have been interesting if they had actually been given anything to do in the movie besides make up for the action sequence quota. Dr. Koshin who kickstarts the problems just looks like a creepy old man but at least the reveal of how he was able to collect the Dragon Balls in his poor physical condition does make for a fun little twist. Unfortunately the five minute resolution of the movie just kills everything that was set up.

Not even our heroes get all that much to do this time around, aside from some barebones social interaction they pretty much just go from fight scene to fight scene. Had they actually done something with the fact that they having Roshi partake in the action perhaps the movie could have been salvage in the dramatic department but that part of the plot is brushed aside very early on in order to exploit the potential for rivalry between Son Goku and Piccolo. Dragon Ball has always had a very colorful character gallery and it's always sad when characters go barely used like in this case. I'm almost convinced that this movie could have taken a more interesting route had it either been put in another franchise altogether or at the very least at a more suitable point in the timeline. 

The World's Strongest is in my opinion one of the poorest Dragon Ball movies because of it's lazy design, poor writing  and just boring tone. This is a very boring Dragon Ball movie, the stakes are as low as ever and the fight scenes just kinda buzz by your eyes on the screen. Coloring wise the movie is also very poor, this might just be because of the age of the picture but in none of the versions I have seen of this are the dark coloring of the backgrounds not a problem, features will frequently blend in with the background and our main villain is barely visible once he joins in the fight. To top it all off, the movie also has some of the poorest sound design I have ever seen in a animated feature, the reused sound effects are a staple of the series, but why they decided to have such a barebones usage of the series soundtrack is anyone's guess. If you don't want to miss any of the Dragon Ball movies, you will find at the very least a light dosage of entertainment but everyone else I'll argue that your time is better spent elsewhere.
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