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DBZ Triple Feature: Hello, Broly!

Goku and his allies have faced a slew of enemies throughout the course of Dragonball Z. Coming from different worlds and possessing different abilities, these villains all have had one thing in common: When they first show up, they’re unstoppable. This happens so often that many of their origin stories and plots hit the same notes. The more interesting villains of the series are those who aren’t just threatening to the good guys but whose background and motivation make for a good contrast to the main characters. Broly is one of those villains.

All three Broly movies have been collected in a newly released, digitally remastered two-disc Dragonball Z set. The first movie, Broly : The Legendary Super Saiyan, stars Goku while Broly : Second Coming and Bio Broly take place during the later episodes of Dragonball Z and focus on Gohan, Goten, and Trunks. Although not the antagonist of any extended arc in the Dragonball Z series, Broly is a strong enough character to carry three movies with a continuing story. Taken as a whole, the trilogy is fun to watch, even if the third movie lacks the impact of the first two.

Broly : the Legendary Super Saiyan has the most to offer of the three movies. There’s a subplot about Chi-Chi trying to get Gohan into school, a humorous bit involving Krillin’s attempt to carry a tune, and great use of foreshadowing the return of a galaxy-threatening being. When Broly is finally introduced as the Legendary Super Saiyan, it is quite epic. Born on the same day as Goku, Broly slept in the crib next to him as a baby and was kept awake by his constant crying. While Goku was born with a low power level, Broly’s was immense. Broly managed to survive the destruction of Planet Vegeta while carrying within him a rage that’s barely in check.

The contrast between the heroic Goku and the insane Broly is interesting, but so is the reaction of Vegeta and the adult Trunks to meeting other surviving Saiyans. Vegeta is put in a new situation, and it’s a welcome change from his usual “This guy looks tough, so I’m going to beat him up to prove I’m tougher” attitude. There’s even one point in the movie where Vegeta loses hope in battle, not something that happens very often. The Saiyans have always been the strongest warriors in the Dragonball Z series, and this movie shows just how deadly an enraged Saiyan warrior with a legendary power level can be.

Broly: The Second Coming introduces the threat of Broly to a new generation of Saiyan warriors. It begins with young Goten and Trunks looking for Dragon Balls with the help of Videl. They wind up helping out a distressed village and end up unknowingly awakening the sleeping Broly. Although unfamiliar with him, Goten and Trunks soon discover that Broly is a force to be reckoning with.

A lot of the history and Saiyan legacy that came with Broly in the first movie is dropped, but the fight Videl, Goten, and Trunks have against Broly is quite different than the one he was given previously. The strategy in this battle is not to defeat Broly in a standard combat, but to avoid him long enough to get the Dragon Balls together to summon the eternal dragon Shenron, who can get rid of him. Goku is dead at this point, but Broly still carries a grudge against him and is reminded of his own foe in the form of Goten and then Gohan, who joins the battle later.

Gohan’s presence changes things up, and the battles isn’t so one-sided. Gohan believes that he can find a way to beat Broly, and to him, the conflict calls into question whether or not Gohan can take over Goku’s role as protector of the planet and take on any of his father’s old foes that resurface. The conclusion of the movie is interesting, and leavened with some ambiguity.

Bio Broly, the third movie, is a good watch that doesn’t quite hold up as the final part of the Broly trilogy. It begins with Hercule (or Mr. Satan; the movie doesn’t seem to have made up its mind about what to call him) meeting an old rival of his, Jaguar, and they agree to have their students fight. Jaguar’s students are actually genetically engineered creations. Goten and Trunks get caught up in the whole mess and discover that a Broly clone is being created to be part of Jaguar’s army. He is awakened early, and Goten and Trunks join Android 18 and Krillin to fight against the titular Bio Broly.

As he’s not the real Broly (or even a complete one), Bio Broly isn’t as big a threat as the original was in the previous two movies. His form and powers do grow, but he is never shown to be as powerful as one would expect. Consequently, the whole idea of the Saiyan legacy and a legendary warrior is dropped. On the plus side, the movie is a good showcase for Android 18 and how much she can handle. Her relationship to Krillin and their daughter clashes with her role as the big gun in the family, and it’s a pretty strong subplot.

When all is said and done, Broly is one of the better DBZ villains, one who comes with a great backstory even if his plot fizzles out in the end. Broly’s beginnings are tied to Goku’s and more weight is given to the history of the Saiyans. Once that’s over, though, there’s not much left to Broly’s story, and the third movie comes to a disappointing conclusion, despite the tease at the very end.

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