Japanese Title: The Incredible Mightiest vs. Mightiest
Original Release Date: July 20, 1991
English Release Date: January 22, 2002
Directed by: Mitsuo Hashimoto
Screenplay by: Takao Koyama
Running Time: 47 minutes
This seems as good a time as any to talk about the titles of these movies. The direct translation from Japanese is right at the top of each of these entries I’m making, and taken in that sense, they’re usually pretty crazy. They’re often very descriptive or kind of comical. This one, The Incredible Mightiest vs. Mightiest, is one of the more comical ones. When dubbing and releasing in English, Funimation basically gets to come up with whatever title it thinks makes the most sense. In this case they went with Cooler’s Revenge, which feels like one of the more boring titles they came up with. For one, we don’t know who Cooler is going into it so why in the world would he be out for revenge? I guess we’re supposed to watch and find out, but it just seems kind of lazy. In this case, the directly translated title sounds like something I’d want to watch! Incredibly Mightiest? – I want to know who that guy is. A cooler seeking revenge? Sounds like a beverage container got mad that it’s being used as a bait bucket on a fishing trip or something.
Anyways, if you didn’t guess on your own, Cooler is related to Frieza. He’s his brother, to be exact, and he’s come to Earth seeking a battle against Goku to redeem his family name. He has no love for his deceased brother making it clear this quest for revenge is more about honor than anything. This is also one of the few movies that could have conceivably been fit into the actual Dragon Ball Z timeline given that a lot of time passes offscreen between the Frieza and Androids Saga. Not that it matters in the grand scheme of things, but it’s an interesting aspect of the picture.
The movie begins with a recounting of Frieza destroying the Saiyan home world: Planet Vegeta. We’re shown the events from the perspective of Cooler (Andrew Chandler) and his small army of loyal men. He scoffs at Frieza’s (Linda Chambers) carelessness and at how childish he’s behaving. One of Cooler’s men, Salza (Michael Marco), picks up a Saiyan Space Pod on their radar escaping the destruction. He suggests they destroy it, but Cooler refuses saying it’s Frieza’s problem. They apparently have their own areas of the universe to dominate, and there’s an aspect to his personality that would probably welcome the destruction of his brother. We then jump forward for a quick recap of the Goku and Frieza battle and witness Goku, as a Super Saiyan, defeat the evil tyrant.
In the present, Cooler is on his way to Earth, like so many villains before him. On Earth, Goku (Sean Schemmel) and his friends are camping (this sounds really familiar) when Cooler and his men show up. Goku isn’t looking for a fight, but he’s obviously ready to defend his friends and family. Cooler and company obviously seek something else, and they begin their attack. They overrun the earthlings, and a blast intended for Gohan (Stephanie Nadolny) is taken by Goku inflicting a near mortal wound on the warrior. They’re able to escape, and Krillin (Sonny Strait) sets Goku up in a cave to rest while Gohan agrees to head to Korin’s tower for some senzu beans. He takes Icarus so that he doesn’t have to expend any energy that would be picked up by Cooler, and off he goes.
Gohan is able to make it to the tower without detection where he encounters Yajirobe (Mike McFarland) and Korin (Mark Britten). Korin tries to play a bit with Gohan while Yajirobe isn’t in the mood for games and orders the cat to just give up the beans. Gohan thanks them and takes off, but on his way back to the cave he is unable to avoid Cooler’s men. They shoot down Icarus and rough up Gohan, but just before they can deliver a mortal blow (and stop me if you’ve heard this one before) Piccolo (Christopher Sabat) shows up! He tangles with Cooler’s men, allowing Gohan to slip away. Piccolo takes care of two of Cooler’s men, Dore and Neiz, and seems capable of taking out Salza as well when Cooler arrives. He uses his Death Beam attack to neutralize Piccolo and orders Salza to track Gohan.
Gohan makes it to the cave, but before he can hand over the pouch of senzu beans Salza arrives and fries them. Krillin heads outside to buy them some time, when Gohan remembers that Yajirobe tossed him an extra which he stored in his sash. He gives it to his dad, who immediately starts to feel better. While his strength is returning, Gohan and Krillin team-up to take on Salza but find themselves overmatched pretty quickly. Goku emerges from the cave to even the odds, when Cooler shows up baring an unconscious Piccolo. He provokes Goku further by blasting Piccolo through the chest and letting his body fall to the Earth. Goku takes his anger out on Salza, sending him soaring out of the picture, and then turns his attention towards Cooler.
Goku and Cooler square off and the two appear to be evenly matched. That’s when Cooler breaks off from the fight momentarily to tell Goku his story, because that’s what villains do. Goku doesn’t really care, and then Cooler unveils one final trick – a fourth transformation! Cooler was in his fourth form, the result of his third transformation, as Frieza was when Goku killed him. Cooler long ago unlocked yet another form, and he’s more than willing to utilize it in order to destroy Goku. He goes through the process, which makes him bigger and results in lots of protruding spikes and a new grill for his mouth. He kind of reminds me of Super Shredder from the 1991 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II movie, but since they came out the same year he’s pretty clearly not influenced by that character.
In his new form, Cooler proves to be Goku’s better. Everything Goku tries fails, and he soon finds himself getting beaten down. That’s when he resorts to his old motivation techniques – thinking of those who depend on him, recalling the bad deeds of his opponent, etc. Apparently, Cooler injuring a bird is his breaking point this time and Goku goes Super Saiyan. As a Super Saiyan, he proves to be Cooler’s better forcing him to resort to the same tactic his brother did by trying to destroy the whole planet with his Death Ball technique. Goku is able to counter it with his Kamehameha wave and literally blasts Cooler into the sun. As his body breaks apart, in one last bit of poetic justice, Cooler makes the connection between Goku and the fleeing Saiyan Space Pod thirty years ago. With Cooler taken care of, the only thing left is Salza, and a certain big green guy gets some momentary revenge and the last word in this one, which is kind of nice for a change. Though how he recovered from what appeared to be multiple mortal wounds is left unexplained.
Cooler’s Revenge is perhaps the simplest of all of the Dragon Ball Z movies thus far. It follows the exact same script as the past two movies essentially, with an evil invader coming to Earth seeking something and getting into a fight with Goku. In the case of the Saiyan Turles, he at least had the Tree o Might to add some spice to his invasion, while Lord Slug essentially sought the same thing as Turles, but found the Dragon Balls too. Cooler is just here to kill Goku, and in some respects I appreciate that the movie gets right to it, but then it betrays its fast start by taking Goku out of commission and forcing us to wait for his reentry into the fight. Because of its simple nature, this is the shortest film since Dead Zone and it would be even shorter if they took out the flashbacks to the main series.
The movie’s biggest strength is its reliance on the story began in the actual series with Frieza. Connecting Cooler to Frieza is a good move as it gives him credibility. And it’s not like Toriyama didn’t experiment with Frieza’s family history as well by introducing King Cold shortly after Frieza’s defeat. It’s conceivable that he could have had a brother roaming the galaxy as well, and also not surprising that they wouldn’t exactly have any strong affection for each other. It is kind of strange that he would have never been mentioned by anyone during the events of the show given that he’s apparently more powerful than his brother, but then again no one ever talked about King Cold either. That additional transformation is kind of the obvious move, but at least it looks a little different from the others and its visually interesting. Goku having to transform in a similar manner to how he did against Frieza was kind of tired, but when you consider that a lot of these films seem to exist to condense a main plot point from the show into a short run time then I suppose it’s more forgivable.
As one of the earlier Funimation dubs, the original version of this film’s English dub was full of terrible nu-metal music within its soundtrack. It’s actually kind of amazing Funimation fit so much of it into such a short film, but wow can I not recommend avoiding that initial dub strong enough. I guess if you enjoy bands like Disturbed and Drowning Pool you might like it, but I can’t think of worse torture. This one is also visually the most bland film so far as the settings are just boring planes and forests that offer little spice. The fight choreography is also less than stellar as it suffers from the same issue as Lord Slug in that seemingly every confrontation is between two individuals with vastly different power levels, and that’s just not entertaining. It would have been nice if Goku’s Super Saiyan transformation had put him on more equal footing with Cooler for a more interesting fight.
Cooler’s Revenge is a movie with a solid premise – the brother of an evil tyrant is out to avenge his family’s loss by confronting a man he allowed to live long ago. After that though it pretty much botches everything else. It takes one of the least appealing aspects of the show, waiting on Goku, and incorporates that into a movie. It also doesn’t offer any great action pieces, and it even lacks in another aspect of the series we’ve all come to enjoy – the humor. It’s a drab film, and as a cliff notes version of how Goku became a Super Saiyan I guess it’s fine, but it’s my least favorite Dragon Ball Z movie so far. Hopefully it stays that way.