After more than three decades, Dragon Ball fans will finally get the film they want: Dragon Ball Super Broly, the movie that will add two previously fan favourite non-canon characters into the Toriyama-sanctioned universe. Three if you count Goku & Vegeta’s new fusion from the Fusion Reborn film.

Not only is this the 20th movie in the franchise but also the third to be considered canon, after 2013’s Battle of Gods and 2015’s Resurrection F to be written by the legendary Akira Toriyama himself. It also helps that it’s a really action-packed heavy stakes-filled fight-fest for the ages that does its main antagonist justice.

Haven’t Watched Dragon Ball Super? No Problem!

Dragon Ball Super Broly

Dragon Ball Super Broly clearly takes place after the end of the Dragon Ball Super anime, since it references the events that happened during the Tournament of Power arc. Some of the callbacks might go over the heads of fans who haven’t been keeping up with Dragon Ball Super, but fans shouldn’t worry about that.

Gripping Opening Flashback Sequence

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The first 20 to 30 minutes of the movie comprised exclusively of an extended flashback sequence to show us Planet Vegeta before its destruction at the hands of Frieza. It also serves to introduce the younger versions of Goku, Vegeta, and Broly, as well as Goku’s father Bardock and Vegeta’s father King Vegeta.

It took a huge chunk of the movie, but the flashback sequence was especially heartwarming and heartbreaking to fans of the franchise who know what’s coming. There are also a couple of retcons to the original story that I find to be improvements to the established lore, such as Broly’s origin and Bardock’s behaviour.

Broly Actually Has A Personality Now

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Dragon Ball has never been known for its good narrative or well-developed characters. Goku himself is essentially the same person he was 30 years ago, and we love him for it. That’s why it was such a pleasant surprise to see Toriyama writing Broly as a fleshed-out character in his right, which was not a luxury he afforded to most of the other Dragon Ball villains.

You can rest assure that Broly is still the same unstoppable force that we’re all familiar with, especially when he turns into his Legendary Super Saiyan form. However, this time around he’s not evil just for the sake of being evil, and he doesn’t hate Goku just because he was tormented by Goku’s incessant crying when they were babies in pods.

Dragon Ball Super Broly’s Broly is a gentle soul with an actual personality, with a tragic past of being banished by King Vegeta simply for his abnormal power levels and raised by his father Paragus through harsh warrior-like indoctrination. This continued abuse is what made him unstable, and we often see the softer side of Broly throughout the movie as well, turning him into a sympathetic antagonist.

ACTION, ACTION, ACTION!

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Although this is a Dragon Ball movie with heart and nostalgia, it still remembers what fans love about the franchise: the kinetic and fast-paced action. Dragon Ball Super Broly delivers that in spades, with the primary focus being on Goku, Vegeta, and Broly. Some fans might be disappointed to know that none of the other characters received their share of the action but perhaps it’s for the best since the movie could maintain a tighter narrative with a smaller ensemble.

The fights between Goku, Vegeta, and Broly are earth-shattering and explosive, with each individual’s transformation given more details than they usually would in the anime. The fights are also some of the biggest in scope in the entire franchise, to the point that the fight between Super Saiyan Blue Gogeta and Legendary Super Saiyan Broly broke the fabric of reality.

One gripe I had with the fighting scenes was that Goku and Vegeta would no longer scream out their signature attacks like “Kamehameha!” or “Galick Gun!” Instead, a narrator or voice from the heavens would announce the moves and what’s happening on-screen, as if we’re in a wrestling match. It’s weird and off-putting, not to mention immersion-breaking.

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Besides that, the fact that Dragon Ball Super Broly is written by Toriyama means that the movie has some of that trademark Toriyama humour. You’ll find yourself laughing at the interactions between Goku and Vegeta, as well as some funny moments involving Frieza as well. Humour is a vital part of Dragon Ball, so I’m glad that the movie still has lots of that.

Dragon Ball Super Broly manages to be both epic and personal. The movie’s ending sets up more stories to be told in future movies or anime series while staying true to the franchise roots while retconning and expanding certain aspects of established lore. Most importantly, the action and fights are extremely satisfying. Self-proclaimed Dragon Ball fan should do themselves a favour and watch this movie.

Final Rating: 85/100

Catch Dragon Ball Super Broly when it releases in Malaysian cinemas on December 27, 2018. I caught one of the earlier limited screenings, which are currently available at selected TGV Cinemas.

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