Australian Council on Children and the Media

Dragonball Evolution

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Short takes

Not suitable under 5, not recommended under 8, PG to 13 (Scary scenes ,Violence)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Dragonball Evolution
  • a review of Dragonball Evolution completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 9 April 2009.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not suitable due to scary scenes and violence
Children aged 5-8 Not recommended due to scary scenes and violence
Children aged 8-13 Parental guidance recommended due to scary scenes and violence
Children over the age of 13 OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Dragonball Evolution
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild action violence
Length 82 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

This story is based on the popular Japanese manga cartoons created by Akira Toriyama. The movie begins with a legend. Lord Piccolo (James Marsters) who wishes to rule the earth and in doing so will destroy it. A group of warriors band together and bind Lord Piccolo into the earth. To do this they use seven magic dragonballs that are then distributed throughout the world.
Goku (Justin Chatwin) lives with his grandfather (Randall Duk Kim) who is training him to be an expert in martial arts. As with all true fighters Goku is told not to rely on his external senses but to rely on what is inside him; to use his ‘Ki’. Today is Goku’s 18th birthday, and his grandfather gives him a sphere, a dragonball. Goku is happy to have it but it does not mean much to him. Goku never knew his parents but tonight at his 18th birthday dinner his grandfather will tell him what really happened.
At school he is considered a geek and a weirdo. He is very keen on a girl – Chi Chi (Jamie Chung) but when he gets to school, his bike is run over by one of the ‘cool’ boys. This group bully him and when he does not fight back it is seen as proof that he is scared. Goku can of course defend himself but does not because he has promised his grandfather he would not fight ‘boys’. Later on when Chi Chi cannot open her locker, Goku does this for her using his ‘Ki’. He tries to hide but she sees him and is impressed, and appears to understand how he did this. She invites him to her party.
Every year Goku and his grandfather celebrate his birthday together. This year however he goes to Chi Chi’s party (without telling his grandfather) and at the last minute takes the dragonball with him. Once he gets there he is again bullied but this time fights back. While this is happening, Lord Piccolo descends on the Grandfathers house and on finding the dragonball missing he attacks the grandfather and destroys the house. Goku feels that there is something wrong and races back to find his grandfather buried in the house. Just before the grandfather dies he tells Goku that Lord Piccolo has returned and that Goku needs to find Master Roshi and the other dragon balls so as to defeat Lord Piccolo. Goku is very sad and guilty that he was not there to help his grandfather.
Goku decides to pursue Lord Piccolo to avenge his grandfather’s death. On the way he is helped by Bulma (Emmy Rossum) who has invented a dragonball tracker after her father’s dragonball has been stolen (also by Lord Piccolo) and hopes to get it back as it will be used as a form of energy. Together they find Master Roshi (Chow Yun Fat) and finally they are joined by a charismatic thief called Yamcha (Joon Park) and these four work together to track the dragonballs.
While this is happening, Goku’s romance with Chi Chi develops and she tries to help him in his desire to improve and perfect his fighting skills. He eventually comes face to face with Lord Piccolo. At this point it is important for him to be true to himself and remember his training as only by doing this can he hope to defeat Lord Piccolo.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

The supernatural; death of a family member

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.


Frequent violence includes

  • Grandfather teaches Goku to fight, hence several martial arts fighting scenes
  • A couple of boys deliberately run over Goku’s bike and then threaten him
  • Lord Piccolo attacks and destroys a village to find one of the dragon balls. A mother and daughter are hiding with the dragonball and Piccolo’s henchwoman finds them and holds a gun to the mother’s head after asking her to kneel.
  • At Chi Chi’s party Goku has had enough. When the boys pick on him instead of turning his back he fights them. This scene involves a lot of punching and kicking (martial arts style) and also the use of an iron bar
  • Lord Piccolo attacks Grandpa, he throws him around the room and then smashes his house, burying Grandpa in the house.
  • There are several further martial arts scenes, one between Goku and Master Roshi, one between Chi Chi and Lord Piccolo’s Henchwoman.
  • At one point the four are attacked by some nasty looking creatures created by Lord Piccolo and these are defeated by being thrown into the lava
  • Goku turns into a monster and tries to attack the others
  • Lord Piccolo and Goku attack each other

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • There are a number of scenes with very loud sound effects, including explosions
  • A number of scary scenes depict monsters
  • Goku turns into a scary and vicious-looking monster. 
  • Goku returns to the house and finds his grandfather dead
  • The scene where the characters have to cross molten lava
  • A giant, menacing mountain rises out of the ground with Lord Piccolo at the top.
  • A scary dragon appears at the end of the movie. Even though the dragon is there to do good, the image could worry young children.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Some of the scenes described above could also scare children in this age group.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Some of the scenes described above could also scare younger children in this age group.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this film.

Product placement

None of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Goku and Chi Chi kiss a couple of times, the second time quite passionately.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • At Chi Chi’s party there is an inference that alcohol is being drunk

Coarse language

There are some insults such as ‘geek’ or ‘weirdo’ but no actual coarse language of concern

In a nutshell

Dragonball is an action adventure story based on characters created by Akira Toriyama and featured in graphic novels and a TV series. It is aimed at a teenage audience.
The main message from this movie is that only by being true to what you believe in, can you do the right thing.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • the importance of trust in those you care about
  • the importance of friendship
  • loyalty to your friends and family
  • resolving issues without violence

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