Dragon Ball Z: The Return of Cooler

DBZ_Movie06Japanese Title:  Clash!! The Power of 10 Billion Warriors

Original Release Date:  March 7, 1992

English Release Date:  August 13, 2002

Directed by:  Daisuke Nishio

Screenplay by:  Takao Koyama

Running Time:  46 minutes

Movie six, The Return of Cooler, is our first instance of a repeat villain and not the last. I suppose you could consider it the second, since by the release of this one Garlic Jr. had made his second appearance by showing up in the actual anime series. For the movies though, this is the second appearance of a villain. Cooler, fresh off of his defeat in movie five, is back for revenge and this time he’s joined by a star. And by star I don’t mean someone famous or important, I mean an actual star:  The Big Gete Star. Set on the planet New Namek, The Return of Cooler marks the movie debut of everyone’s favorite Saiyan asshole:  Vegeta. Since this one takes place during The Imperfect Cell Saga, Vegeta is in his Super Saiyan form so I guess he was just sitting out these movies until he was appropriately powerful. It was a bit odd seeing him left out of Cooler’s Revenge, given his history with Frieza, but I suppose it was better than seeing him pop-in just to get his ass handed to him (like Piccolo often does). Not to be overlooked is the film debut of Dende, the newly appointed Guardian of Earth. Strangely, this film premiered before Dende assumed that role in the series. It’s not a particularly huge plot point in the show, and it was being adapted from a manga anyway, but it’s still kind of odd to see that plot “spoiled” by a movie.

The film opens on New Namek where the Namekians enjoy a peaceful existence, much in the same way they did before Frieza’s arrival on their former home. A colossal, mechanical looking planet then comes into contact with the world. It grips it like a parasite, and the people of New Namek are helpless to do anything about it. On Earth, Dende (Laura Bailey) can sense what is happening to his former home, and not knowing what else he could do, he turns to Goku for help.

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This is the rare movie where Piccolo actually doesn’t get his green ass handed to him.

Goku (Sean Schemmel) is always willing to help out, and he and his friends hop into a Capsule Corp spaceship and head for New Namek. Apparently they do not anticipate there being a huge problem as joining Goku is Gohan (Stephanie Nadolny), Krillin (Sonny Strait), Piccolo (Christopher Sabat), Oolong (Brad Jackson), Yajirobe (Mike McFarland), and Master Roshi (McFarland). No explanation is given why such a large contingent needed to go, and they don’t offer up an explanation for why Goku didn’t just teleport to New Namek, but it helps to keep the comic relief on-hand, I suppose. Though Yajirobe? That guy never likes to leave his tower.

Riding_In_The_SpaceShip_(Return_of_Cooler)

A rather interesting crew.

When they arrive on Namek they find all of the people there have been enslaved by an assortment of robots. It’s not clear initially what it is the robots want from the Nameks as they’re just sort of being marched along, but obviously it can’t be anything good. The heroes spring into action, but find the robots are all pretty tough on their own. Goku goes off to confront their leader, leaving the others to take care of the underlings. Only Piccolo seems capable of matching the robots, but with the numbers greatly at their advantage, they eventually overwhelm him and the others.

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Cooler is back, whether you asked for it or not.

Goku is able to track down the leader and he’s shocked to find out it’s none other than Cooler (Andrew Chandler). When we last saw Cooler he was being blasted into the sun, which was apparently very successful as Cooler no longer has his body. Instead he’s a metal construct that takes on the form of Cooler’s fourth form, the one that resembles Frieza’s final form, as opposed to his more advanced form. As a cyborg, Cooler proves to be quite formidable. As Goku damages him, the Big Gete Star is able to repair him and even reforms complete limbs. Not only that, he learns from his mistakes and weak points in his body are further strengthened to prevent the same injury from occurring again.

Cooler reforming

That’s a neat little trick.

With Cooler being as powerful as he is, Goku is forced to go Super Saiyan. Adding further insult, Cooler even lets him know he can also utilize the Instant Transmission attack removing one of Goku’s new trump cards from his deck. He’s able to take control of the fight and when it looks like Goku is about to bite the dust, the prince enters the fray.

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Goku is no match for Cooler on his own.

Vegetal (Sabat), claiming he’s here to make sure he’s the one who gets to kill Goku (or Kakarot, as he always refers to him as) so that we don’t mistake his appearance for charity. Despite seeing Cooler’s dismantling of Goku, Vegeta is still his usual arrogant self and he rushes headlong at Cooler. It doesn’t take much time for Cooler to demonstrate his superiority once more, and the two Super Saiyans are forced to do something neither ever wanted to do:  team up.

Vegeta snooze

Vegeta! This is no time for a nap!

On their own, Goku and Vegeta were unable to make much headway against Cooler and his new metallic form, but together they stand a chance. Knowing Cooler will just repair any real damage they inflict, they have no choice but to go all out and simply overwhelm Cooler with their combined attacks. It works, but the two warriors are totally spent and collapse onto the ground. To their horror, reinforcements arrive and dot the horizon around them. At first it’s just a few, then it becomes dozens, hundreds, thousands! And the reinforcements aren’t more of the robots that fought with Piccolo and the others, but copies of Cooler! Not ones to simply admit defeat, the Saiyans power-up as best they can, but predictably they’re defeated and taken as prisoners to the Big Gete Star.

Goku_e_Vegeta_distruggono_Metal-Cooler

A little teamwork goes a long way.

Inside the star, the mostly unconscious Super Saiyans are strung up by a series of wires deep within the core of the planet. The star needs energy to power itself and it intends to snack on a pair of Super Saiyans. Cooler appears and can’t resist the usual villain trope of explaining how this all came to be, and what he intends to do from here. The star had found Cooler in space following his defeat at the hands of Goku. When it initially found Cooler, the Big Gate Star was a mere microchip. It fused with Cooler and began to grow. The chip and Cooler became one, and the Big Gete Star is essentially Cooler, whose remains are still intact serving as the hive mind of the whole contraption. Having really no other alternative, Goku and Vegeta power-up from their positions and Cooler has trouble absorbing all of the energy being output by the Super Saiyans. It overloads the system, freeing not only Goku and Vegeta, but the others as well who had been captured. All except Piccolo, who has been making his way to the Big Gete Star and gained entry, only to be confronted by a Metal Cooler.

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Eh, they’ve been in worse situations.

With the circuits overloading, Goku and Vegeta are able to attack the core of the star which is basically just Cooler’s mutilated head. He soon creates some giant monstrosity of himself and attacks. Vegetal slices off one of the Mecha Cooler’s arms, allowing Goku to unleash a mighty blast vanquishing Cooler once and for all. As the core dies, the Cooler attacking Piccolo explodes. He’s able to reunite with the others for an escape which needs to happen fast as the whole place is coming down. The whole planet disengages from New Namek and explodes in orbit. Before anyone has too much time to ponder their fate, Goku and Vegeta fall from the sky, a bit banged up, but alive. They’re able to revel in their victory while Vegeta makes a quick, offscreen, exit. He gets the last moment though as he’s shown fleeing in a space pod clutching the last remaining microchip from the Big Gete Star which he crushes in his fist.

Goku_vs_Mecha_Cooler_(Return_of_Cooler)

Cooler’s one last trick is some sort of mecha-version of himself.

Like the first appearance of Cooler, The Return of Cooler is a pretty straight-forward and briskly paced film. Unlike that one, the action here is pretty consistent. Since it takes place on New Namek, it’s not all that visually interesting since the original Namek, which New Namek is apparently a carbon copy of, was a pretty boring looking place itself. The interior of the Big Gete Star is at least a different look for the series, and the new robot designs are unique to this film and not repurposed from the show. Cooler, in his resplendent new form, looks rather “cool” and you can tell Toei spent most of their budget on making him look nice and shiny. I’m torn on if I would have preferred he be in his fifth form or this one, but that one lacks a mouth and I’m guessing the animators find this one is easier to work with and convey emotion through. The other characters also look great with there seeming to be a strong effort to make Vegeta look impressive in his debut. Lots of straight lines help evoke the feel of the later stages of the manga and anime and everything looks rather sharp. Cooler’s regeneration abilities are also pretty damn neat to watch and much more visually interesting than say Cell’s ability to do the same.

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Remind me again why Goku brought them along?

I’m on record as saying Cooler’s Revenge may have been my least favorite of the films so far. I didn’t find fault with the villain, Cooler, though in reaching that conclusion, I mostly just hated the execution. Even so, I wasn’t exactly eager to receive another appearance from Cooler. If we were going to repeat a villain though, he’s probably better than any of the ones that have come before him so far. A more popular repeat villain still to come is Broly, and he’ll even beat Cooler’s record by making a third appearance, and given a choice between those two I would probably give the edge to Cooler as being the better villain. It will be fun to revisit Broly in the coming weeks and see what my attitude towards him is now, but from what I remember I wasn’t super impressed.

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All in all, a nice film debut for Vegeta who looks exceptionally bad ass throughout this one.

The Return of Cooler is a much better send-off for the character and helps soften the blow of Cooler’s Revenge. It wasn’t necessary that Cooler get another try, but it’s not as if these movies are filled with classic villains so I don’t think we really missed out on anything. It’s good to finally have Vegeta in these films, even if his role is somewhat small from a character perspective, he’s just there to beat stuff up. He’s mostly a glorified cameo in these movies, with perhaps one exception, but I’d rather he be in them than not. And since the anime resisted having Goku and Vegeta pair up it’s pretty neat to see it here in a movie. And that’s mostly what these movies do best is give us a taste of something the anime didn’t get a chance to do.


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