Region: 1 - North America
Length: 185 minutes
English 2.0 Stereo
Japanese 2.0 Stereo
The FUNimation Dragon Ball movie box collects the Dragon Ball movies Mystic Adventure, Sleeping princess in devil castle and the special anniversary movie path to power. The three releases are included in individual boxes in their uncut forms and collected together with a cardboard DVD box.
The first movie of the collection is Sleeping princess in devil castle which was released in Japan in 1987. Both Goku and Kuririn want to get trained by the legendary Muten Roshi. Roshi insists he can't train them both so he sends them off to retrieve the mysterious sleeping princess, the one who makes it back with the princess gets to train with Roshi. Like all the movies in this collection, they can be watched independently of the series since the stories are self contained and take place outside the series continuity.
The DVD of this movie is pretty basic, there's no chapter selection screen and since the dub and sub are linked to different video tracks it's difficult to switch between languages. The animation hasn't aged very well, and could likely have benefited from some additional cleaning.
The second movie "Mystical Adventure" takes the most liberties with the Dragon Ball universe out of the three movies in this collection recasting many of the Red Ribbon army characters as traitorous members of an Empire headed up by Chiao-tzu, in this version Bulma is still looking to summon Shen-long to wish for a boyfriend. This movie also lifts a few plot points from the main anime, this time the Dr Slump cross-over although General Blue is substituted for the assassin Tao Pai Pai with some fairly amusing results. Like Sleeping Princess the animation has dated, but it doesn't stop it being enjoyable, it has the strongest plot of the three focusing more on the adventure than just the final 'boss fight' at the end.
The final DVD of this collection "The Path to Power" is an intriguing one since it was animated much later than the previous two to celebrate Dragon Ball's 20th anniversary in Japan (1996). In this movie Goku is living alone when he runs into a young girl named Bulma who is searching for the dragon balls. She tricks him into coming along, so that she'll have a bodyguard along the way. This turns out to be a good idea as the villainous Red Ribbon army is also searching for the spheres.
At it's core the movie is a loose retelling of Dragon Ball's Red Ribbon army saga, lifting the core elements of the story and compacting them into one film. The infamous muscle tower provides the focus for much of the action acting as Red Ribbon Army HQ. Sadly though the film favours a rather generic giant robot fight rather than the more humorous Game of death parody from the original story. The animation is much smoother than the previous films and takes advantage of computer effects for many of the action scenes. The character designs have also been updated to resemble Toriyama's later style.
The release itself isn't anything special the three DVDs haven't changed since their original uncut releases. Rather it simply provides a more cost effective way of collecting the films. The stories of each of these films are pretty similar, so it's probably best to avoid watching them too close together. Like the later Z films it seems Toei struggle to match the quality of Toriyama's storylines, so they end up highly derivative. Number two stands out the most as it strays away from the storyline enough to make it worth watching in it's own right drawing strongly on the Kung-fu movies which strongly inspired the original.
At it's heart these Dragon Ball movies are a lot of fun older DB fans will get a kick out of seeing the various what-if scenarios. Even uncut there's nothing overly violent or gory so younger fans will be able to watch without too much worry. Due to time constraints the fights are brief and to the point and the self contained plotlines of each film mean viewers can experience Dragon Ball without committing to the full series.