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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.

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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.


SH Figuarts Super Saiyan Vegeta

IMG_2172He’s the Prince of all Saiyans. The last survivor to have laid eyes on Planet Vegeta, home world of the mighty warriors and birthplace of the legendary Goku. And he’s also a pretty fine toy. Vegeta, arguably the most popular character to emerge from Dragon Ball Z, has seen his likeness cast in numerous forms of plastic over the years. The Dragon Ball franchise is probably the most recognizable anime franchise around the globe and probably the most beloved. Despite concluding over 20 years ago, Dragon Ball Z remains insanely popular. It has experienced a renaissance over the past few years due in large part to the launch of Dragon Ball Super, the Akira Toriyama blessed true sequel to Dragon Ball Z which basically erases the lackluster Dragon Ball GT from canon. It’s thanks to that series, as well as Giant Bomb’s new Dragon Ball Kai podcast All Systems Goku, that I’m feeling awash in Dragon Ball related nostalgia. And when I get nostalgic, I often turn to toys.

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Final Flash, sort of?

SH Figuarts, a division of Bandai, has been releasing high quality action figures for a few years now. I reviewed each figure in its aborted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line and came away really impressed with the build quality of those figures. That license was reportedly rather expensive for SHF, so I should not be surprised that their Dragon Ball products actually seem more substantial and are even a bit cheaper in price. They’ve been dabbling in the franchise for a few years now, but it’s only just now that I finally bit the bullet on my first DBZ figure and who else was I going to pick other than Vegeta? Truth be told, my options were rather slim at my local comic shop as these figures aren’t stocked like a typical action figure line or the much cheaper Dragon Ball Super figures. I had my choice between Vegeta, Tien, and Kid Goku from Dragon Ball and opted for Vegeta because he was always one of my favorite characters and at $50 he was also the cheapest. That price point is substantial for a lone action figure and it’s the most I’ve ever spent on a DBZ figure, but after having a couple of days to mess around with him, it’s hard not to come away impressed.

Super Saiyan Vegeta comes in at roughly 6″ in height and is depicted in his iconic Cell Saga blue armor attire. He has more points of articulation than is worth mentioning and loads of optional parts. His parts list includes 4 interchangeable face plates, nine different hands, and a set of crossed arms. His wide range in articulation means he’s capable of numerous dynamic poses, though the lack of a display stand of some kind is a bit disappointing (they’re sold separately) as he can’t truly assume his classic Gallic Gun pose or Final Flash. His joints are nice and tight so there’s no flopping around. The paint apps on my figure are all really clean. His face has few paint accents, but his expressions work really well and it kind of plays off of the yellow in his hair this way. His bodysuit has some shading and the armor does as well so it’s not just stark white. There’s no battle damage or anything like that and nothing is removable, but the armor itself is part of the sculpt providing maximum articulation at the slight cost of true likeness.

The SHF line is composed of numerous smaller pieces and the figures can practically be deconstructed if you so desire. This means you can get a little rough with them without fear of breaking anything as it’s more likely the piece will just pop out instead. The hands all popped out rather easily for me. They’re seated on a small peg which is attached to a ball joint. Snapping on a new hand can be a little tricky as that ball behind the pegs wants to move, but it’s still fairly simple. The cross arms piece is a little more tricky as you have to remove Vegeta’s arms just above the bicep. They come apart easy enough, but getting the crossed arms to fit means inserting one side then kind of bending the other arm to make it work. Still, I never felt like I was endangering my figure when putting it on. The end result is a classic Vegeta pose, though it looks slightly unnatural. That may just be due to me knowing it’s one solid piece and overthinking it, so judge for yourself in the picture below. As you can see, SHF did a great job of making sure the blue of the sleeves matches Vegeta’s shoulders.

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Vegeta is not impressed with your fighting ability.

Veneta’s face plates are all relatively easy to remove and re-apply. His “bangs” are attached to his face and including that as part of each face plate helps add depth to his hair and also hide the seem. After struggling with the face plates of the recently released Bucky O’Hare from Boss Fight Studio, it was nice to have no similar issues with the faces here. He comes capable of four different expression: a serious face, a cocky grin, an angry scream, and an angry scream while looking off to the left. I’m not really sure why that last one is included, but I’m not complaining as it’s not like anything is missing (unless you enjoy horrified Vegeta). His screaming faces even have that little vein that shows up in the show whenever Vegeta gets pissed which is a nice touch. The only challenge to the faces is finding a spot to place your fingers as you push another face on – that hair is pretty damn spiky!

Between the numerous hands and the various expressions it’s relatively easy to recreate any scene you wish from the show or manga. The only thing missing is a true Big Bang Attack hand gesture, which if I’m being honest actually is a pretty disappointing omission. He can handle the Final Flash with ease though and it’s possible to kind of contort him into a Gallic Gun, but that one always was a bit odd and a pose more appropriate for a Saiyan Saga Vegeta. It would have also been nice to get a a non-super head, though I personally wouldn’t display him with black hair so I guess I shouldn’t complain. Now if they had wanted to go the extra mile and include removable shoulder pads, tail, and armor “skirts” then that would have been great – basically creating an ultimate Vegeta figure. That would have also added considerable cost to the figure and already being at $50 I can understand why SHF would rather not. If you love all forms of Vegeta though SHF has you covered as they’ve done a Saiyan Saga Vegeta, Majin Vegeta, and a Super Saiyan Blue version as well.

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Hug me!!!

Considering prior to purchasing this Vegeta action figure the only ones I had were made by Bandai, Irwin, and Unifive, it probably comes as no surprise that this is the best Vegeta I’ve ever purchased. Since it’s the most expensive, I guess that makes sense. It’s also given me a bit of an itch to acquire a few more of the Dragon Ball figures released by SHF. I can’t see myself going nuts and trying to collect the whole line, but a few choice figures is not out of the question and I may or may not have already bought a second figure (spoiler alert, I did and you can expect a review of that one in the not too distant future). The only danger is with companion figures. If I decide I really want a Saiyan Saga Vegeta will I then feel the need to pair him with a Nappa which runs around $75? It’s a dangerous game. For now at least I can feel pretty happy with this figure.

The optional power blasts can add a bit of excitement to your display (sold separately).


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