Tag Archives: cooler

Dragon Ball Z Movie Wrap-up – The Rankings

teaser gokuWell I hope you’ve enjoyed the summer feature this year at The Nostalgia Spot – Dragon Ball Z Movie Monday. We’ve taken a look at all 13 original Dragon Ball Z films in chronological order, run-through their plots, dissected what they did well and not so well, and now we’re going to rank them. It should be noted that this ranking is going to be rendered obsolete in just a few short months as on the way is the first Dragon Ball Super movie:  Broly! Yes, Broly. He’s coming back for a fourth movie appearance, but this time it’s different. Those Dragon Ball Z films he was in are technically not canon. Yes, series creator Akira Toriyama designed the character of Broly and the general back story, but he was never intended to be a “real” character, so to speak. With the 14th and 15th DBZ films, things started to change. Both Battle of Gods and Resurrection ‘F’ are now canon and were adapted for Dragon Ball Super. Since Toriyama is involved with Broly, it stands to reason that this will be an all new version of the Legendary Super Saiyan and for the first time ever he’ll be an actual part of the overall Dragon Ball plot.

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Broly’s coming back, whether you like it or not.

That’s all well and good, but before we can even think about that movie we need to sort out these other 15, of which 3 feature Broly. The core 13 are what we covered this summer, but I had taken a look at the two most recent films previously and made entries about them. Even though their plots are now part of Dragon Ball Super, they were released as Dragon Ball Z films so it feels right to include them in the rankings. Hopefully the first Dragon Ball Super movie will challenge the best of these, but for now, this is what I think of the fine fifteen:

Goten urinating

Lets kick this one off properly!

15. Broly – Second Coming – It’s kind of funny the first film on my list just so happens to feature the character of Broly. If this version of Broly were returning for a fourth feature, then I would be disappointed. Broly was fine in his film debut, but his return engagements saw the warrior reduced to an even more mindless fighting machine. Broly – Second Coming also stars Trunks and Goten, and it feels like maybe they weren’t ready to anchor a feature. Gohan makes his presence felt in the film’s third act, but he can’t rescue this one. Broly – Second Coming is perhaps the most dull, with the biggest rule-breaking ending, and is thus my least favorite. It’s not without some charm, so I hesitate to call it flat-out bad, but it will be a long while before I revisit this one again.

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Maybe this was a bad idea.

14. Cooler’s Revenge – You will probably notice a trend amongst these bottom entries. The movies that just feel like one long fight do little to entertain me, and Cooler’s Revenge commits the sin of having Goku get taken out immediately only to sit on the sidelines for a large chunk of the film’s duration. No one wants to sit and wait for Goku to show up – not Cooler, and certainly not the fans. And the fights that do occur in this picture aren’t very engaging, but we do get some fireworks from Super Saiyan Goku and the transformed Cooler. It’s also his connection to Frieza that helps move this one past Broly – Second Coming.

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Not the best?! I don’t want to hear it!

13. Lord Slug – Similar to Cooler’s Revenge, this one also has Goku get taken out for a large portion of the film. Unlike with that film though, there’s not a great reason for that to happen. Yeah, he gets hurt a bit, but it doesn’t seem like the type of injury that should knock Goku out of commission for such a long time. Anyways, Lord Slug gets to move past Cooler because at least there’s some interesting visuals here. A lot of fun backgrounds and the enemy designs for Slug’s henchmen are interesting as well. I also think the fight between Slug and Goku is a bit better than the one with Cooler, even if it features that goofy half Super Saiyan thing from Goku. This is also a film I look at and can envision it being better than it is with just a few tweaks here and there.

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Swamp Thing got nothing on Broly.

12. Bio-Broly – It seems like this film is most often cited as the worst DBZ film and I can see why, on the surface, that would be the case. It returns Broly, but in an even weirder form than before that’s somehow even more mindless. There’s no Goku, Vegeta, Piccolo, or Gohan, and overall the stakes are possibly the smallest they’ve ever been. On the other hand, Goten and Trunks get another crack at being the stars and they’re more entertaining here than previously. There’s a good balance of nuanced humor with the childish brand that sometimes rears its head and we also get a good dose of both Mr. Satan and Android 18. Perhaps best of all, there’s no silly rule-breaking ending involving the dead Goku this time and in the end we get a film that’s perhaps not super engaging, but it makes up for it to some degree with humor and charm.

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Trucker hats rule.

11. Super Android 13! – Another extended battle movie, but this one ups the excitement by adding yet another Super Saiyan to the mix – Future Trunks. We also get more androids, which at this point in time felt a little like overkill since we already had five in the main series, plus Cell. Still, the android villains kind of work and given how secretive Dr. Gero was it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that he’d have even more waiting to awaken. It’s just too bad they all have the same general programming of needing to kill Goku. For the English dub, Funimation actually took some liberties and gave Android 13 a little personality. It wasn’t much, but it was something. The fights are generally satisfying, though the resolution kind of “meh.” More than most, this one is all about spectacle.

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Dragon Ball Z Movie 6 – The Mega Powers Explode!

10. The Return of Cooler – Cooler gets to improve upon his debut by pairing up with a super computer and gaining a shiny, new metallic body. Vegeta also gets to debut in a DBZ film as a Super Saiyan, and for the first time ever, he and Goku team-up to take on Cooler. There’s actually some semblance of a plot here and it’s not bad. There’s a little mystery, and if Funimation didn’t decide to go with such an obvious title the actual re-debut of Cooler would have come as a surprise. The film just kind of loses me in the final act. It’s no Spirit Bomb attack at least, but it is kind of odd.

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In this one, Goku fights a tree.

9. The Tree of Might – If this were a ranking of best looking Dragon Ball Z films then The Tree of Might would be a contender for the top spot. It hits the sweet spot between the very soft, round look of Dragon Ball and early Dragon Ball Z while also bringing in more definition. The characters are all muscled-up and impressive looking, the special effects mesmerizing, and the battles don’t move at a super-sonic pace. More interesting enemy designs, the debut of Icarus, and even a Giant Ape fight! The actual plot is just what holds everything back as a planet devouring tree hardly seems like an interesting adversary. And then there’s the confusing Turles and the lack of a really great fight involving him. If Goku and Turles were able to wage an all-out epic battle then that probably would have vaulted this one up the list, but instead it settles close to the mid-point of our list.

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Oh yes, that’s the good stuff!

8. Dead Zone – It’s rather appropriate that the debut film, Dead Zone, is right in the middle. I consider it a good measuring stick for all of the DBZ films. It has a simple, but effective plot revolving around the kidnapping of Gohan and a villain out for revenge and immortality via the Dragon Balls. That villain is Garlic Jr., who gets to follow a typical villain mold for this series in that he’s not imposing to look at, but he’s hiding a monstrous transformation. The fight choreography is top-notch and probably the best the series had. Watching Goku dodge the blade attacks of Garlic Jr’s minions is easily the film’s most fun visual. There’s also the odd drunk Gohan sequence that’s pretty amusing by itself, and we even get a pee joke. The film kind of falls apart in the final act, a common occurrence sadly for these films. We’re teased a Goku vs Piccolo fight that never gets going, and Garlic Jr. is defeated in a very anticlimactic fashion by Gohan. Basically, Gohan powering up alone pushed Garlic into the Dead Zone? I don’t know, it’s still a lot of fun though.

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Legendary Super Saiyan? More like Legendary Cry Baby.

7. Broly:  The Legendary Super Saiyan – Broly peeks on our list at number 7, which isn’t half-bad (literally). His debut film was the longest at the time totaling over 70 minutes and it utilizes its time well. It moves at a methodic pace teasing the emergence of Broly and then devotes a sizable portion of its run time to the actual fight. Where it stumbles is with its odd handling of Vegeta and, stop me if you’ve heard this one before, the resolution to the actual fight with Broly. His defeat just feels cheap. I don’t know what would have worked better since they kind of wrote themselves into a hole considering how powerful Broly is, but surely something better could have been utilized. Nonetheless, it’s still fine and this is how a Broly film should function where the plot revolves around him, but doesn’t necessarily require him to do much aside from just being there. The other characters move the narrative and provide the context. Oh, and his origin is great aside from why he hates Goku. I think that aspect of his origin was supposed to be funny, but it just doesn’t fit here.

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You wanna get nuts?! Let’s get nuts!

6. The World’s Strongest – The second DBZ film still feels a bit like an odd duck. It is somewhat rooted in the spirit of the original Dragon Ball, and bringing Master Roshi back into the fold is certainly welcomed by me. The sci-fi nature of the plot is slightly out of place for Dragon Ball Z, but less so when you consider some of what was featured in Dragon Ball. If the villainous duo of Dr. Wheelo and Dr. Kochin were given ties to the Red Ribbon Army then they would have felt right at home. Like Dead Zone, it gets a lot out of its visuals. The fight choreography is again top-notch, and the big finish with the Spirit Bomb works since it hadn’t been done before. I love the arctic location and the humor infused into it. Even the whole premise of the film, a couple of long dormant scientists mistaking Master Roshi for the strongest fighter in the world, is pretty amusing and the Metal Gear-like Dr. Wheelo is certainly an interesting opponent from a visual perspective. This is just another fun DBZ movie that moves at a brisk pace and is able to squeeze everything that’s charming about early DBZ  into it in a satisfying manner.

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When a god asks for pudding you give him pudding!

5. Battle of Gods – The return I had no idea I cared about. Battle of Gods both resurrected Dragon Ball Z as an anime brand and launched Dragon Ball Super. It introduced the God of Destruction, Beerus, and his godly attendant Whis who have become some of my favorite characters across all of Dragon Ball. Beerus is not only an all-powerful god, but a cat. We’ve seen cat creatures before, but Beerus is able to subtly weave in cat-like behavior into his mannerisms that’s so entertaining. The film also brings together basically everyone from DBZ as far as the earthlings go, and it’s heavily reliant on comedy. So much so that it comes at the expense of action, which is where some fans seemed to be let down. That and Goku’s Super Saiyan God form was fairly underwhelming. Still, what action is present is solid and the film looks fantastic when it’s not trying to use CG effects.

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Some cool guys and Yamcha.

4. Bojack Unbound – The first movie that did not try to rely on Goku, Bojack Unbound put Gohan in the spotlight in a bit of rehash of his fight with Cell and the awakening of his Super Saiyan 2 powers. It could have been a bit lame, but it’s anchored by some character development that works and the introduction of one Mr. Satan who never fails to be amusing. The entire film takes place on an island as the Z fighters have entered a tournament for riches. There’s plenty of humor to be found at the expense of both Mr. Satan and Krillin, and also plenty of action. The part of the film I liked most was the little peak at a post-death Goku Vegeta, who is essentially depressed about the loss of his rival. The film maybe could have been better if that had been its primary focus, but instead it chose to just make that a small piece. The actual villain, Bojack, is kind of boring to be honest, but we get a good series of fights out of him and his minions. It’s also fun seeing the Super Saiyan 2 moment rehashed, and the film just looks fantastic.

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Tears in Hell.

3. Fusion Reborn – Probably not surprising, but a film that spends quite a bit of time devoted to exploring the relationship of Goku and Vegeta is going to rank high on my list. These films often don’t go for character development, instead choosing to just capture the essence of the main characters and sticking that on-screen. For Vegeta, that typically means you just get a cocky jerk who is only fighting because he wants to be the one to defeat Goku instead of the villain of the moment. In this one, both fighters are dead, and they need to not only team-up to stop the Buu-like Janemba, but literally become one fighter via fusion. Vegeta can’t stand the thought, but Goku proves persuasive. The two seem to develop an understanding of one another and have a bit of a quiet reckoning leading up to the big moment, and it’s very rewarding and very sweet. In addition to that, the movie combines impressive visual flair with a ton of funny bits including Goten and Trunks taking on a resurrected Hitler. This one distills the qualities of the Buu Saga that I actually like into a tidy 52 minutes and it’s arguably the most “fun” of all the Dragon Ball Z movies.

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Play nice you two.

2. Resurrection ‘F’ – The most recent film may actually be the only one more fun than Fusion Reborn and that’s because it’s very much a fan-servicey kind of movie. It brings back Frieza, the most hate-able of all of the villains, for another round. Now he’s powered-up to a new form, but so are his chief rivals Goku and Vegeta. Debuting their new Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan (Super Saiyan Blue, for short) forms, the two Saiyans are basically on equal footing for the first time since their inaugural fight way back on Earth during the Saiyan Saga. In addition to watching them pummel Frieza, we get to see the other, lesser, fighters square off against Frieza’s minions including Master Roshi! Krillin shaves his head, Gohan gets angry, it’s basically all here. Beerus and Whis also return and they’re just as amusing as before and the film’s visual style is truly stunning. This may be the best looking DBZ film so far as it dials back on the crude CG from Battle of Gods. I think I still prefer The Tree of Might’s look to this one, but it’s close. Ultimately, this one works because we get to see that jerk Frieza get bested once again, and Vegeta even gets a little revenge. It also further adds to the Goku/Vegeta dynamic in a worthwhile way, something that Dragon Ball Super will continue to explore.

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This is a sweet one, right up until a child is asked to execute his buddy.

1. Wrath of the Dragon – I guess when it comes to these movies, I’m more of a “plot guy” than an “action guy.” Wrath of the Dragon doesn’t feature a ton of fighting, but it does spend a long time on the quieter things. I enjoyed the introduction of Tapion and his story, and seeing a different side of Trunks felt very rewarding. We’ve seen Goku take on all kinds of crazy beings, so it was nice for a change to just spend a lot of time looking at a character that’s mostly been underserved by both the films and the series. It gives the film a different mood. It’s a bit sad, but also endearing, and it still packs in some moments of triumph. Some of the early plot machinations are a bit silly, and the almost total absence of Vegeta felt puzzling, but Wrath of the Dragon still manages to tell the best story of all 15 films and that’s primarily why I placed it here.

In truth, the top 5 films felt pretty interchangeable for me. Bojack Unbound is really watchable because of the action pieces, while Battle of Gods feels the most dense because of all of the new lore introduced. Fusion Reborn and Resurrection ‘F’ bring a lot of humor and silliness to the table, making both very re-watchable, while Wrath of the Dragon just seemed to strike a nice balance for me. Hopefully, the upcoming Broly can match the best Dragon Ball Z put out. It’s basically guaranteed to look amazing, and I’m sure we’ll get some flashy action sequences no matter what. I’ve had fun revisiting these films. I never held a high opinion of them, but I think I had more fun with them now than I did when I was younger and a bit more cynical. They are what they are and they exist simply to entertain for 45 minutes or so (and make money) and as long as they don’t betray what the series stands for then that’s good enough for me.


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


Dragon Ball Z: Cooler’s Revenge

DBZ_Movie05Japanese 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.

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We get to watch poor Bardok get smoked again at the start of this one.

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.

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Cooler, who spends the bulk of the movie in his fourth form which resembles Frieza’s.

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.

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Like most of the big bad guys on in this show, Cooler has a group of loyal henchman. Salza, pictured here, appears to be his right-hand man.

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.

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Gohan is sent for senzu beans but runs into some trouble.

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.

Piccolo Fight

Piccolo gets a brief moment to shine in this one, emphasis on the word brief.

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.

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Cooler – not a nice guy.

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.

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Cooler’s Super Shredder form. It’s fine.

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.

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Ouch.

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.

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The film debut of Goku’s Super Saiyan form.

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.

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The film ends with a classic beam struggle, which I’ll give it credit for doing so as I was getting really sick of the Spirit Bomb.

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.


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