Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated that “Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins” was a Thai movie; it has been changed to reflect the fact that “Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins” was a Taiwanese production.
Years before the controversial, whitewashed “Dragonball: Evolution”, Taiwan released its own version of Akira Toriyama’s “Dragon Ball” series in live-action format in 1991.
Titled “Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins”, the film follows the premise of the 1986 animated movie from the series, “Dragon Ball: Curse of the Blood Rubies,” according to Comic Book. It tells the story of how Son Goku, the protagonist of the story, tries to protect the Dragon Pearls from getting in the wrong hands.
It’s up to Goku and his team of fighters, Piggy, Turtle Man, and Seetoe, to defeat the evil King Horn and prevent him from summoning the wish-granting Dragon, Shenron.
Seetoe is actually Bulma. This confusion is all due to the licensing conflict that the Thai film had at the time with the original publisher of “Dragon Ball”.
“Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins” is more of a kung fu movie with special effects than an actual “Dragon Ball” adaptation, at least based on what is shown in the VHS trailer.
Since the movie is from the 90s, most of the special effects used are extremely cringeworthy, so consider yourself warned. Plus, the fighting moves in the movie resemble old Chinese martial arts films of the 80s and 90s.
Although it is full of cringe, this adaptation of the popular, long-running anime/manga series is still more interesting than what Hollywood released in 2009.