Dragon Ball fans know the sting of a failed live-action movie. Hollywood dropped all the dragon balls when 20th Century Fox made an official adaptation of Akira Toriyama’s beloved series. However, it looks like Thailand did much better with its attempt.
If you thought Dragonball Evolution was the only live-action take on Goku, then think again. Over the years, a few unofficial adaptations have been produced in countries like South Korea, but it is Thailand’s film that has fans the most gobsmacked.
Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins is 85 minutes of unadulterated WTF. The film, which debuted in 1991, is a live-action take on the Dragon Ball film “Curse of the Blood Rubies.” The anime feature saw Goku band together with his friends to take on King Horn, a baddie wanting to use the dragon balls to take over the world.
And, as you can see above, the trailer for Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins does its best to bring that drama to life.
The movie itself is simple enough: Son Goku must team up with several fighters to keep King Horn from gathering all seven Dragon Pearls. The villain has two already, but Goku works with heroes like Piggy, Turtle Man, and Seetoe to prevent Shenron from being summoned by the greedy king.
Thanks to licensing conflicts, the Thailand film doesn’t ever refer to its characters by name. Goku is relegated to Monkey Boy with Bulma becomes Seetoe. Other knock-offs appear as well and bring fighters like Grandpa Gohan, Oolong, Yamcha, Kame, and more to the big screen.
The unlicensed feature may not have the best - or even good - graphics, but it makes up with heart. Even the trailer for Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins proves the film's loyalty to Toriyama's series, and its campy fight sequences are lithe enough to make even Goku smile. Hollywood may have burned bridges when its Dragon Ball adaptation flopped, but there's hope that the Saiyan race may one day return triumphantly to theaters. So, for now, Dragon Ball fans can only watch what's already been given to them and learn where to go from there.