Dragon Ball Z: The Fall of Men full movie review - The best live-action adaptation of the Dragonball franchise I've seen.
Like many other fans of the Dragonball franchise, I am staunchly sceptical of any attempts to adapt content from the anime or manga into live-action sequences.
I've long felt that the nature of the show (with its fast-paced fight scenes, wild hairstyles, transformations and ki-blasts) is not suitable for live-action. However, and to my surprise, Fall of Men has prompted me to reconsider my outlook.
Fall of Men is loosely based on the Dragonball Z storyline "The History of Trunks". However, Fall of Men gives the Dragonball universe a darker, grittier feel, unlike any live-action adaptation that has gone before it. In line with the themes of the History of Trunks movie, the sense of loss and hopelessness is conveyed very effectively throughout the film. This is perhaps amplified by the lack of dialogue; the film largely relies on visual cues to move the story forward, with the voice of Trunks dubbed over only to provide the audience with an insight into his thoughts and feelings.
However, this film's strongest suit is in its ability to filter out the details from the anime/manga that do not match its gritty tone. However, any details that are plausible in live-action have been retained, which will please any hardcore Dragonball fans. For instance, whilst Bulma is not portrayed with blue hair, Dr. Briefs is still portrayed with a cigarette and small black cat. In short, the film manages to stay loyal to the franchise, but has moved far enough from it to not appear parodical.
Further, when tackling sequences much more difficult to portray in live-action (such as transformations, ki blasts and movements at speed), Fall of Men manages to execute them in a tasteful way, triumphing where many live-action adaptations have failed (although a little more tweaking could be carried out in places).
For any Dragonball fan, this short film is worth a watch. Above all else, it has single-handedly demonstrated that a decent live-action adaptation of Dragonball is possible. The fact that this film did not have the backing of a major production company makes it all the more remarkable.