"Dragonball Z: Cooler's Revenge/Return Of Cooler" Not The Coolest
Over the course of its Japanese run, Dragonball Z had thirteen theatrical releases. Continuity was always a problem with these: the series, running simultaneously with the movies, tried to stay relatively close to the manga, so it was hard to fit the new stories in. Instead, for the movies the producers usually just created new characters and situations for the Z warriors to deal with.
The two “Cooler” movies (Cooler’s Revenge and The Return Of Cooler) were released way back in 2003, and I’m slightly surprised FUNimation hasn’t thought to bundling the two together. Well, let that pass. Also let pass any worries about who Cooler is and where he comes from. Cooler’s Revenge marks his first appearance, even though the title suggests it ought to be at least his second appearance. From such pointless muddles do headaches come.
If you don’t know the history of Goku, it all starts with, well, his birth. Born as “Karakot,” the son of Bardock, on the planet Vegeta, the boy was sent off into space to conquer Earth. That very same day, Frieza decided to eliminate all the Saiyans. He knew Vegeta, Nappa, and Raditz were off on missions, but he somehow let Kakarot slip through his fingers.
Cooler, Frieza’s brother, saw the tiny Saiyan spaceship escape but decided not to kill its occupant. Flash forward decades, and Kakarot (now known as Goku) has taken down Freiza in the final battle of Namek. Yes, technically Trunks was the one who killed him, but supervillains are a very narrow-sighted lot. As soon as Cooler learned that a full-blooded Saiyan had killed his brother, he came to Earth looking for revenge.
Much like any Dragonball Z movie, Cooler’s Revenge soon kicks into pure fight mode. All the Z warriors get their butts kicked, so they have to use their brains, after which they resume fighting. With a Kamehameha blast, Goku literally shoves Cooler into the sun.
Well, nobody said Goku was smart, but he doesn’t even think about the possibility of the sun exploding or anything. Even though this is Dragonball Z, a show where planets and moons are constantly exploding, some of them more than once.
Return Of Cooler features the, well, return of Cooler, who after being thrust into the sun got himself borg’ed by the Big Gete Star, a tech ship that goes around the universe assimilating anything and everything. Cooler then became Meta Cooler, a robotic entity constantly upgraded by the Star itself. Bringing the war of Saiyans full circle, Meta Cooler and the Big Gete Star crash on New Namek. Dende, Namek by heart but Earth’s Guardian by trade, brings in Goku and company, including a rather useless Master Roshi, Yajirobe, and Oolong, to take care of the menace.
Goku takes up the fight and is soon aided by Vegeta, who was apparently bored and decided to drop by on this mission. Either way, the duo (even if they’re Super Saiyan) are quickly trounced by Meta Cooler clones. And, as in every other fight in the history of Dragonball, the heroes team up, find a new drive, and fight a villain who has just upgraded, with Goku eventually saving the day.
The Dragonball Z movies are very formulaic, and the pair of Cooler movies, individually, are no different. Together, something special happens, though. It seems like we get a two-hour movie (with a weird transition) rather than two one-hour movies. Individually they’re nothing special, but together, watched back to back, they make a pretty decent Dragonball Z Saga.
Extras on both discs are forgettable. Cooler’s Revenge only has trailers, while The Return Of Cooler adds character profiles and actor interviews, but nothing too out of the ordinary for a FUNimation disc. If FUNimation were ever to do commentaries, their best bet would have been on movies.
This pair of movies is a decent diversion if you’re looking for some good Dragonball Z stand-alone stories, but they are far from great movies in themselves or out of the Dragonball context. Z fans should take note, but they’re the only ones.