Tentacle-Free Anime: "DBZ: Wrath of the Dragon" (1995) Review
- by Kazekun, 16 March 2015
I love many of the things I grew up with, but it’s always something of a bummer when you look back on a movie you remember fondly, featuring characters that you had toys of, and think: “Well, this could’ve been a lot better.” So with that somber opening out of the way, let’s get right to it!
Wrath of the Dragon is something of an enigma to me. It was the last DBZ movie for 18 years before Battle of Gods came out in 2013, and for some reason it felt like cramming in way more than it could handle at the time. Along with story ideas, that frankly, never needed to be a part of it in the first place. Why is this an enigma you to me you ask? Because, well...
When both of these movies came to America, I was enveloped with excitement over finally seeing my toys in action. And for years I thought both were amazing films and wonderful contributions to the DBZ mythos. Now, I can’t say much about Fusion Reborn at the moment, as I just don’t remember enough about it. But I did recently rewatch Wrath of the Dragon, and hoo boy...
The movie, sadly, just isn’t that good. It follows a standard DBZ story outline of "enemy shows up, heroes trust enemy without knowing any better, enemy shows true colors and they fight him". Hey, isn’t that what happened in Battle of Gods? The difference is, we get to know Beerus as a genuinely humbling guy who’s also a giant, spoiled asshole (kind of like the cat he is). In this movie neither Hirudegarn, nor Hoi are given any depth of character. They’re evil and they do what they do because they’re evil. Of course, I can’t say that without mentioning that that is almost all DB/Z/GT villains, BUT there is a different between your villains being that way and FUN, and being that way and BORING.
And again, this story tries to shove a ton of fanservice into the movie, I guess because it was the last movie for the longest time? This is where the movie becomes an enigma to me. I don’t think any of us fans actually questioned the origin story of Trunks’ sword that his future incarnation boasts. Yet this movie felt the need to give it one, tying the story of Tapion in with the History of Trunks storyline set in the future. The inclusion feels incredibly forced and never earned, almost feeling like an afterthought because hey, Tapion has a sword and Trunks will have a sword, so… why not? And the inclusion of a time machine like Trunks’ comes just out of nowhere.
Tapion, too, is pretty one-dimensional, and sadly we never get to see him fight even once. It’s a shame Goku ends up being the hero in the end like usual, because I feel much of Tapion’s potential is wasted in this movie and though we get to know some of his backstory, I still feel distant from the character like I only knew him for a brief moment; which would make sense, considering he’s only in a handful of scenes.
Also that new move Goku is supposed to perfect in order to defeat Hirudegarn? There’s no lead into it, it just happens. And that’s that. No training for it, no previous dialogue of Goku saying he has a new move he’s been dying to try out. But the move, rightly called the Dragon Punch, is a very awesome and fun spectacle to behold. I would’ve loved to have seen Goku use it in the original anime.
But wait, before you think I’m only going to talk negative about this film, let me just point a few things I really did enjoy about the movie. Videl joins up with Gohan as the Great Saiyaman to fight crime around cities and that’s a whole heckuva lot of fun to witness. I really enjoy the Saiyaman character, being a spoof on Super Sentai series from Japan. And it WAS fun to see the ferocious and mighty Quagsar—ahem, I mean Hirudegarn in action. As far as the fight scenes go, I was impressed with how well he was handled.
I think Tapion is due for a comeback, to see his story unfold once again. Maybe get to see him and a slightly more experienced Trunks team up once again. He IS a cool character, but I would’ve enjoyed seeing more done with him.
All in all, at 45 minutes this movie had a lot to accomplish and I think it just fell down under its own weight. Problem is, some of those story threads didn’t need to be in the film, lending to a rather lackluster ending to the original DBZ movie saga. In 1995 this was the 13th DBZ movie (damn!), and now many years later we get to look forward to even more, hopefully better films. This I am thankful for.
Final Score: 2 Ocarinas of Time out of 5
So that didn't age well at all! What do YOU think? Is there still something to like about it? Let us know in the comments!