For those of you reading this that aren't Japanese, do you remember your first time watching an anime in the original Japanese with subs? This was my very first experience ever watching ANYTHING in a foreign language and reading sub-titles. The year was 1999 and I was 11 years old. My local comic store sold bootleg VHS tapes made by the Chinese Triad, including all the DBZ movies. I bought this movie because it had an epic cover art slapped on it that actually had nothing to do with the movie. The Chinese bootleggers just put completely random cover art on all their DBZ VHS tapes. For most of you, this was one of the shittiest DBZ movies, but for me it was an epic experience!
The movie starts with Android 17 decapitating Gero with a roundhouse kick, which was completely edited out of the US version. For some reason, the movie actually adds a copious amount of blood that wasn't in the main series version of that scene. Having never watched anime "uncut" my 11 year old mind was blown by the shower of blood when Gero gets his head smashed! I mention in some of my other reviews that I rented and bought a bunch of shitty late 80s and early 90s OVAs to bask in the manly violence. THIS was actually the movie that started that path. I put up with bullshit like Genocyber, MD Geist, and all the others like a drug addict trying to chase down that first "high" that you never quite feel again. This movie has ZERO plot, but the fights are and fast and furious, the animation is good for DBZ standards, and it is quite enjoyable for any DBZ fan.
Even better than the violence was the amazing soundtrack! I had never heard the Shunsuke Kikuchi soundtrack until this movie and only experienced the US soundtrack by good ol' Bruce.
HOLY SHIT! This music was SO much better that it made this shitty movie worth re-watching again and again just to experience it. Youtube didn't exist and bootleg VHS was really the only way to listen to the glorious original soundtrack! I'm not sure if it was ever uploaded to Napster and my computer would have been WAY too slow to download it anyways. The epic music for the battles, the badass character themes for Piccolo and Vegeta, and the absolutely beautiful song that plays when Goku uses the Spirit Bomb (Genki Dama for you fucking Weaboos!) Music plays a massive role in how much we enjoy movies, even though we often don't realize the impact that it has. Imagine Star Wars with a shitty soundtrack! It would be a good film, but the experience simply would NOT be the same! I didn't fully realize would a monumental difference soundtrack could make until watching this movie and hearing the difference between the Japanese and US soundtracks to DBZ. In that regard, this movie actually was an important step in my development as a film critic by opening my eyes to that fact.
Did I rate this film objectively and completely free of nostalgic bias? Hell no I didn't! I'm only human, and we are all susceptible to nostalgia. Knowing this allows me to have empathy and avoid becoming quite as bitter and condescending as some other critics. I may feel a twinge of anger when someone rates Mirai Nikk or Black Lagoon a 10/10, but if that was my first violent anime, my first sub, my first introduction to a Japanese soundtrack, and I watched it at age 12, I would probably have done the same thing. God bless this shitty movie, its bloody violence, and its glorious soundtrack!