In anime circles, there is one thing you should never mention - and fight club is not that thing. No, it is Dragonball Evolution that should have you scared. The Dragon Ball fandom all but refuses to acknowledge its presence, and the franchise’s creator has even signaled his distaste for the flop. The live-action anime adaptation was very loosely based on Akira Toriyama’s iconic shonen title, but fans of the series seem content with pretending it never existed.
If you have ever wondered how the film could flop so poorly, then you are not the only one who’s done so. Over the years, both fans and critics have asked why director James Wong would let such a popular franchise get such shoddy treatment from Hollywood. However, it appears as if the director did not know any better. Before Wong was brought onto the project, he didn’t know anything about Dragon Ball.
In a previous interview with Newsarama, Wong spoke openly about how he became involved with Dragonball Evolution. It was there the director said he came in as a replacement when Stephen Chow couldn’t take on the film.
“At one point, Stephen Chow was going to direct the movie and somehow that didn’t work out,” Wong explained. “20th Century Fox called me and asked if I was interested in looking at a script. I wasn’t a lifelong fan of Dragonball because I didn’t know much about it. I said I would look at it and the script they sent me was interesting, but it was really when they sent me the manga from the Toriyama that it intrigued me. I thought the manga was fun, inventive, and amazing.”
Of course, Wong did his best to familiarize himself with Dragon Ball’s extensive canon, but the director’s lack of fanboy cred has made his suspect to many. Toriyama’s story covers a lot of content that longtime fans even have trouble distilling, and Wong admitted he struggled to balance Dragon Ball’s general storyline with its specific bits.
For those of you curious about how poorly Dragonball Evolution went over, you should the film’s screenwriter has officially apologized to fans over the catastrophe. In the past, Ben Ramsey had this to say to fans of Dragon Ball:
“I knew that it would eventually come down to this one day. Dragonball Evolution marked a very painful creative point in my life. To have something with my name on it as the writer be so globally reviled is gut wrenching. To receive hate mail from all over the world is heartbreaking. I spent so many years trying to deflect the blame, but at the end of the day it all comes down to the written word on page and I take full responsibility for what was such a disappointment to so many fans. I did the best I could, but at the end of the day, I ‘dropped the dragon ball.
"I went into the project chasing after a big payday, not as a fan of the franchise but as a businessman taking on an assignment. I have learned that when you go into a creative endeavor without passion you come out with sub-optimal results, and sometimes flat out garbage. So I’m not blaming anyone for Dragonball but myself. As a fanboy of other series, I know what it’s like to have something you love and anticipate be so disappointing.
"I hope I can make it up to you by creating something really cool and entertaining that you will like and that is also something I am passionate about. That’s the only work I do now."