Hard to believe its been twenty years ago since Dragon Ball Z: Dead Zone was released. The film introduces us to Garlic Jr. and his goons who have kidnapped Son Gohan for the Dragon Ball. Garlic Jr.’s evil goal is to call on the eternal dragon Shenron to grant him immortality. With Piccolo beaten, Son Goku and Kuririn together with Kami try to fight off Garlic Jr. and his henchman. After all in the first episode of the series Gohan acts like he can barely tie his shoes let alone beat somebody up. But you will find out the secret here. (spoiler warning) Gohan “forgot” the whole fight with Garlic Junior. Hmm, how convenient. It fits but in a cheesy way. The story is good, but the film is old, so old that there are a lot of dust and scratches and at times, noticeable grain. I can not report if the blu-ray release made improvements upon this issue.
Sure, Disney can retouch and remaster a lot of their film classics and have the deep pockets to do so but they also have taken care of a lot of their films. In Japan, it’s known that this has not been the case for many of their older animated films. Also, I should mention for those that follow Dragonball, that compared to the other Dragonball Z movies, Dead Zone is the only one which can possibly fit in with the timeline set by the episodes. For me, I am more biased towards the Super Saiyajin Goku years and this film focuses before that time when Goku would ride Nimbus and fight with his staff. The film as a whole was really well done and I enjoyed it, although I was a bit let down by Garlic Jr. as a villian.
Although the translations of Japanese animation into English is usually poor, I found the character of Goku to be, as always, the perfect combination of super hero and down to earth dad. Fans of the series who find themselves confused by the plot would do well to watch this if they can find it. It establishes the fact that Goku and Piccolo were once enemies, a fact that greatly affects later plot elements but is only occasionally referenced once the series gets underway. That said, this is a must see, especially if you have already seen The Garlic Jr. Saga on the television series. Again, enjoying the Japanese series growing up, it’s great to hear the stellar acting on the English dub.
The movie is very funny as well, such as Gohan peeing on Krillins head! I did like Goku’s new persona though, rather cocky. It was a nice change. I must say I expected this movie to ponder on but I was wrong as it was only on for 45 minutes so it is very short and sweet and I thought that this was a spot on running time for this film. As a reviewer who has posted several DBZ movies I thought it was only fitting to post a review of Dead Zone since it was the beginning of the needlessly long line of DBZ movies actually started off fairly smoothly. If you want some realistic fight sequences (compared to the later style of DBZ fights), along with the history of Garlic Jr. and Gohan, at least give it a screening.