Japanese Title: Burn Up!! A Close Fight – A Violent Fight – A Super Fierce Fight
Original Release Date: March 6, 1993
English Release: August 26, 2003
Directed by: Shigeyasu Yamauchi
Screenplay by: Takao Koyama
Running Time: 72 minutes
If there is an MVP of the Dragon Ball Z movies then it might be Broly by default. Starring in a record three films, Broly is the most over-exposed of the movie villains. Thankfully, he doesn’t appear in three consecutive films and there’s a film in between this one and his second appearance as three in a row really would have felt like overkill. Probably owing to his exposure, Broly has become a some-what polarizing villain among DBZ fans. He’s very recognizable and his appearance is striking so he has a tendency to show up across all media related to the franchise. He’s featured prominently in video games, toys, and other merchandise though he’s been kept out of the main series as well as Dragon Ball GT (or at least he was, until it was announced in July that he’ll be the featured villain in the upcoming Dragon Ball Super movie due to hit theaters in Japan this December). His status as the Super Saiyan of Legend gives him instant credibility to go along with his menacing appearance. He’ll never be as overpowered as he is here, nor will he ever be as interesting, but for a first appearance this one is pretty good. This is also the longest DBZ film thus far and will remain so until Battle of Gods. Most of these movies are kept under an hour, but this one is over 70 minutes and it feels pretty long as a result. Is it too long? Maybe, but we’ll get to that.
The film opens with King Kai (Sean Schemmel) sensing the destruction of a planet in the south galaxy. It’s an ominous piece of foreshadowing and I think it’s safe to say we’ll unravel the mystery of who’s responsible in short order. He reaches out to Goku (Schemmel), who is preparing for a school interview with his wife Chi-Chi (Cynthia Cranz). Chi-Chi is trying to enroll Gohan (Stephanie Nadolny) in a fancy school and needs Goku to be on his best behavior during the interview process in order to get him in. Goku has been forced to put on a suit and is clearly out of his element as Chi-Chi coaches him on the right things to say. She’s more than a little annoyed when King Kai starts butting in to fill Goku in on what’s transpiring in space.
Elsewhere, the rest of the Z Warriors are enjoying a picnic. Master Roshi (Mike McFarland) is looking pretty toasted as he makes a fool of himself. A spaceship touches down and a Saiyan male named Paragus (Dameon Clarke) emerges and immediately swears fealty to Vegeta (Christopher Sabat) who apparently wears his battle armor when attending a picnic. Paragus claims to be one of the last remaining Saiyans and informs Vegeta that they’ve settled on a new planet Vegeta (not to be confused with our Saiyan prince), and he wants Vegeta to rule them. There’s also a problem as the Super Saiyan of Legend has emerged and is wreaking havoc across the galaxy. Paragus needs Vegeta to take care of him, and Vegeta is ready to go. Vegeta, surprisingly, buys the story hook, line, and sinker and doesn’t even question how Paragus could be alive. The others are skeptical, and Gohan, Trunks (Eric Vale), Krillin (Sonny Strait), Master Roshi, and Oolong (Bradford Jackson) decide to board the spaceship and tag along.
Paragus takes the group to New Vegeta, a ruinous planet where the others await. Paragus introduces his mostly mute son Broly (Vic Mignogna), and Vegeta decides to take Broly with him to look for the Legendary Super Saiyan as he’s grown annoyed by his own son, Trunks, who has voiced his doubts about Paragus. Broly is a tall, somewhat lanky, black-haired man with a soft expression. Paragus seems to suggest he’s not very powerful, but we’ve seen the title of this movie and we know better. As Vegeta and Broly search for the Legendary Super Saiyan, Trunks, Gohan, and Krillin explore the rest of the planet. They soon encounter the other inhabitants of the planet, a cute, small, race of creatures who have been enslaved by the forces of Paragus. They’re horrified by what they see, and Gohan jumps in to fight the slave masters. During the fight, Goku arrives via his instant transmission technique as he’s interested in meeting this Legendary Super Saiyan.
Back at the palace, Vegeta and Broly return empty handed. Vegeta is a bit annoyed to see Goku, but it’s Broly who really seems agitated. He begins to grow angry at the sight of Goku, forcing Paragus to raise his hand upon which a golden gauntlet shines. It seems to react with a tiara that Broly wears and the boy is soon calmed while Goku is puzzled. That night, Goku is attacked in his sleep by Broly. The two trade blows until Paragus arrives, calming his son once again with the device on his hand. As he leads Broly away, Goku begins to suspect that it’s Broly who is the Legendary Super Saiyan.
Paragus returns to his room and questions if his mind control device is malfunctioning, or if Broly is just becoming too strong. We’re then shown the origins of the two. Broly and Goku were born on the same day and were placed beside each other in the nursery. It was obvious to all that Broly possessed incredible power from birth, but the constant crying of Goku beside him basically drove him mad. King Vegeta, fearing what Broly would become, ordered the execution of both him and Paragus, but Broly proved hard to kill. He saved his father, and the two were exiled following the destruction of the original planet Vegeta. Paragus has been using his mind control device ever since to keep Broly’s power in check, as without, he becomes lost in his own power.
Goku confronts Paragus about Broly, while Vegeta has decided he’d rather just head back to Earth. Paragus denies the accusations, but eventually the slaves see Broly and confirm that he is indeed the Legendary Super Saiyan for he’s the own who destroyed their home planet. At the sight of Goku, Broly is unable to control his rage. He breaks free of the mind control device and his power is unleashed. He bulks up to an outlandish size as his hair takes on the traditional Super Saiyan look and his eyes go completely white. A green aura envelopes him, giving his hair a slightly different tint to what we’re accustomed to seeing from the other Super Saiyans, and the battle is on.
Goku and Broly battle, but Goku is overmatched. Trunks and Gohan join the fray, but Vegeta is too paralyzed with fear to do the same. He’s spent a lifetime hearing about the Legendary Super Saiyan, and views him as unbeatable (why he was so eager to find him early in the film isn’t explained, maybe he just doubted that the being could possibly exist). Paragus sees this as an opportunity to taunt Vegeta and fill him in on he and Broly’s backstory. This is Paragus’s way to get revenge against Vegeta’s father for nearly killing he and his son years ago, and as icing on the cake he reveals that a comet is heading straight for New Vegeta and will destroy them all.
The other Saiyans are having no luck against Broly, until Piccolo (Sabat) shows up with some senzu beans. Adding Piccolo to the mix changes the outcome little, as Broly is still just too powerful. Piccolo realizes they’ll need Vegeta’s help if they’re to have any chance, and he basically shames the proud warrior into action, though he’s just as successful as the others. Paragus tries to escape in a Saiyan Space Pod, feeling it’s probably best to let the comet kill his son, but Broly catches him. He kills his father by throwing the pod into the incoming comet, and he’s now free to set his sights on the others.
Goku realizes the only way to destroy Broly is for the others to lend him their power to concentrate it into a super attack. I suppose it’s the same concept as a spirit bomb, but instead it requires the others to just give them his power directly. They all do as requested, even though they’ve all been beaten to a pulp themselves, but Vegeta is the lone holdout. Goku still doesn’t have enough power, and eventually Vegeta relents. Bathed in a tremendous glow, Goku is finally able to go toe to toe with Broly. The fight is brief, and he concentrates his attack into a single punch aimed at Broly’s abdomen. It was there Broly was stabbed and left for dead as an infant, and the impact of Goku’s fist causes the old wound to reopen. Broly explodes, and the remaining warriors round up the slaves and pile into the spaceship Piccolo used to reach New Vegeta. They all escape before the comet’s arrival. Goku teleports he and Gohan home, where an angry Chi-Chi awaits. Goku is able to recite his scripted interview responses, causing Chi-Chi to faint and allowing our film to end on the usual humorous note.
Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan makes good use of its long run time by bringing us along slowly. If not for the film’s title, the mystery of the Legendary Super Saiyan would probably be more satisfying, though it would probably still be fairly obvious that Broly is connected to the figure of legend. It’s an interesting setup though, and it’s different from what we’re used to as the heroes are whisked away to a new world and new location instead of having some alien invader come to Earth seeking Goku or whatever. I like the tragic backstory of Paragus and Broly, though the trauma inflicted upon Broly of a crying baby Goku is pretty stupid. I don’t know if Toriyama came up with that as it’s kind of in-line with his brand of humor, but it misses the mark. If they wanted a comical reason for Broly to hate Goku I feel like they could have come up with something better. If they wanted it to seem sincere, then they really missed the mark. The film also largely looks awesome, with some different backgrounds to take advantage. In particular, I really enjoyed setting of the picnic at the beginning of the movie with all of the cherry blossoms in the background. It would have been neat to see a fight unfold there.
The portrayal of Vegeta feels inconsistent and kind of off. Vegeta has always been the proud warrior, so it made sense to me why he would want to seek out the Legendary Super Saiyan. He welcomes a challenge, but he apparently also has respect for the myths and legends of his deceased people. He’s unusually quiet, and just goes along with Paragus, when I feel like he should have been more cocky and proclaimed himself the actual Legendary Super Saiyan. When Broly’s power is revealed, seeing him a puddle is really bizarre. I have no problem with exploring a different side of Vegeta, and in fact it’s something I really like about our next movie, but I think they took it too far and it feels like too much of a betrayal of who Vegeta is.
These movies have a hard time coming up with unique ways to end the conflict. It’s disappointing that this one basically utilized the same method as our previous film, Super Android 13!, with Goku borrowing a bunch of power in order to deliver a killing blow. The problem with this movie is that we have no even fights at all, save for maybe the very first, brief, encounter between Goku and Broly. A large portion of the film’s run time is devoted to the fight with Broly and it’s mostly a slaughter. He’s so effectively violent though that it remains engaging watching him decimate the heroes. It’s just disappointing that when Goku does power-up, he basically ends the fight with one blow. I would have preferred to see a more even matched confrontation that lasted some length of time, but oh well. The side-story with the enslaved race also felt rushed. It’s crazy that with the film running as long as it did that some stuff still felt under-developed, but I guess that’s what happens with a more ambitious plot.
Even with its problems, I still came out of this one really enjoying it. It’s one of the better Dragon Ball Z movies, and say what you want about Broly, he comes across as a legitimate villain with a cool design. He resembles the bulky Trunks from the main series, only he’s even bigger and isn’t penalized in the speed department by his massive physique. It’s kind of a novelty to see Goku dominated so convincingly, though the final outcome was cheap. As a result, it’s not surprising that the films would want to revisit Broly even if his demise seemed pretty damn final. It’s just too bad that the rematch is going to be a pretty underwhelming affair.