If you say the words 'live-action adaptation' around Dragon Ball fans, the otakus will surely shudder. Hollywood showed how difficult it can be to adapt Akira Toriyama's franchise with Dragonball Evolution, but 20th Century Fox wasn't the first to give Goku a go. No, that distinction belongs to another studio entirely.
Dragon Ball fans may not know it, but there are several live-action adaptations of the series out there. Dragonball Evolution is the most famous thanks to its highly publicized failure, but South Korea also tried its hand at the franchise years ago.
Dragon Ball: Fight Son Goku, Win Son Goku is a very unofficial adaptation of Toriyama's classic series. The live-action movie was filmed by director Ryong Wang and released in December 1990, nearly 20 years before Hollywood got its hands on the franchise. The Korean film loosely follows the original Dragon Ball anime as it centers around the 'Emperor Pilaf' saga and even dips into 'Saiyan' storyline for a bit.
So, yes - Nappa does make an appearance. He has hair though, so can fans really count that?
The film is also but impossible to find these days as VHS copies of Dragon Ball: Fight Son Goku, Win Son Goku are rare. A copy of the movie sold on eBay for over $200, but the investment is worth it to some Dragon Ball diehards.
The film does differ from Toriyama's franchise in many ways, but it did try to keep to its roots. The Korean adaptation includes fairly faithful versions Yamcha, Master Roshi, and even Bulma. When compared to Dragonball Evolution, the low-budget movie is often preferred to the travesty which James Wong's infamous directed. So, if you are truly desperate for more live-action Dragon Ball, then you might consider hunting down a VHS of this unlicensed adaptation. Just don't let Toriyama hear you cooing over the slapstick feature!
Dragon Ball SuperSunday at on Fuji Television Network
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