The Disastrous Dragonball Evolution: A Lesson in Adapting Beloved Franchises

Piccolo, Goku, and the Hollywood Disaster: Deconstructing Dragonball Evolution

The Disastrous Dragonball Evolution: A Lesson in Adapting Beloved Franchises

Dragonball Evolution is a 2009 American actionadventure fantasy film directed by James Wong and produced by Stephen Chow, and Tim van Rellim and written by Ben Ramsey.

The film is loosely based on the Japanese Dragon Ball manga created by Akira Toriyama and stars Justin ChatwinEmmy RossumJames MarstersJamie ChungChow Yun-fatJoon Park, and Eriko Tamura.

Dragonball Evolution, a live-action adaptation of the iconic Dragon Ball anime and manga series, was a film that held immense promise but ended up as a glaring misstep in Hollywood’s attempt to translate popular franchises to the big screen.

Released in 2009, this cinematic endeavor aimed to capture the essence of the beloved source material. However, it fell far short of expectations, leaving fans and critics disappointed. In this article, we explore the ill-fated journey of Dragonball Evolution and the lessons it offers for adapting treasured franchises.

The Source Material

To understand the magnitude of Dragonball Evolution’s failure, one must first appreciate the source material. Dragon Ball, created by Akira Toriyama, is a cultural phenomenon that has captured the hearts of millions worldwide.

The franchise revolves around the adventures of Goku, a Saiyan warrior, and his friends as they seek the Dragon Balls, powerful artifacts that can grant wishes. The series is celebrated for its action-packed battles, engaging characters, and intricate storytelling.

A Departure from the Source

Dragonball Evolution attempted to condense the expansive Dragon Ball universe into a single feature film. The result was a plot that strayed significantly from the original storyline, leaving fans bewildered and dissatisfied.

Key characters underwent substantial changes, with Goku portrayed as a high school student rather than a martial artist. The film’s central antagonist, Piccolo, lost much of the depth and complexity that made him a memorable character in the series.

Casting Controversy

The casting choices in Dragonball Evolution also garnered significant criticism. Fans were disappointed with the portrayal of key characters, and many questioned the casting of Justin Chatwin as Goku and James Marsters as Piccolo. These choices failed to capture the essence of the original characters and further alienated the fanbase.

A Lackluster Adaptation

The film’s portrayal of the Dragon Ball world and its martial arts elements was lackluster. The original series was celebrated for its stunning choreography and epic battles, which were largely absent in the live-action adaptation.

The action sequences in Dragonball Evolution felt uninspired and failed to capture the dynamic energy that characterized the anime and manga.

Critical and Commercial Failure

Upon its release, Dragonball Evolution was met with widespread criticism from fans and critics alike. It received a barrage of negative reviews, with many citing its failure to do justice to the source material.

Additionally, the film’s box office performance was disappointing, and it failed to resonate with the audience it sought to attract.

Lessons for Future Adaptations

Dragonball Evolution serves as a cautionary tale for filmmakers attempting to adapt beloved franchises.

It underscores the importance of staying faithful to the source material, respecting the characters and their established traits, and retaining the elements that made the original work so cherished.

Successful adaptations, such as Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, have demonstrated the significance of these principles.


Dragonball Evolution remains a sore point in the history of live-action adaptations of beloved franchises. While it attempted to bring the world of Dragon Ball to a wider audience, it ultimately failed to capture the magic of the source material.

It serves as a reminder of the challenges and responsibilities that come with adapting iconic franchises and the importance of staying true to the essence of what made them special in the first place.

For fans of Dragon Ball, the anime and manga will always be the true source of inspiration, and Dragonball Evolution will be remembered as a missed opportunity.

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Written by Ashutosh Jha

I am the founder of the blog. The idea behind this blog is to write down my experiences and reviews for my readers. I blog about anything that moves me and about what I love. So mostly Food, Gaming, Gadgets, Entertainment and everyday madness...


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