Stream The Dragon Ball Live-Action ’90s Movie Buried In The Past On Tubi, A Must-See For Fans

By April Ryder | Published

dragon ball the magic begins

For all the grieving Akira Toriyama fans, there’s an old movie out there that you may have overlooked. In 1991, an unlicensed and unofficial Taiwanese live-action adaptation “loosely based” on the popular 1986 manga Dragon Ball was released, Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins. If you missed it, you should give it an hour or two of your time. 

Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins

After the untimely death of beloved Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama just weeks ago, it’s comforting to indulge in his legacy and the stories he created. Though Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins is clearly not one of Toriyama’s creations, it’s fairly true to the storyline of the series. 

Director Chun-Liang Chen proved that maybe he had seen an episode or two of the show before shooting his movie, but don’t expect a well-crafted blockbuster hit. Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins is chintzy.

Special Effects Not Special

The special effects are not special at all. You can always see the white wires when Monkey Boy (aka Goku) is flying, and Oolong is a chubby guy in full blackface. It’s a proverbial trainwreck. 

The upside is … it has character. It’s so bad, it’s good. All the names of the characters are different because the creators didn’t have production rights to Dragon Ball.

In Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins, Goku is Monkey Boy. Gohan Sr. is Sparkle. Muten Roshi is Turtle Man. Oolong is Piggy, and King Gourmeth is King Horn. 

Searching For The Dragon Pearls

Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins

The evil alien King Horn has brought an attack on planet Earth in search of the seven magic “Dragon Pearls.” He wants to harness their power to take over mankind and ultimately conquer the universe. Likely story, right? 

Horn begins the execution of his plan by snagging two of the “pearls,” along with Monkey Boy’s grandad, Sparkle, who is the guardian of one of the special pearls. Subsequently, Monkey Boy must set out on his own quest to gather his band of misfits together and save his grandpa. 

Different Tone?

Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins

The only problem is that Monkey Boy’s gang of “pals” aren’t super trustworthy. Everyone wants the power possessed by the “pearls,” and they’re willing to do some pretty shady things to get them.

Prepare yourself for more off-color jokes and cursing than you might expect too. Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins is not built for kids, but ages 12 and up will likely laugh … a lot. 

Comedic Adaptation Of Dragon Ball

Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins

The film is meant as an homage to Toriyama’s creation, not an outright depiction. Leave your serious bones at the door.

This is a light-hearted, comedic adaptation. The characters overact and display nonsensical hand gestures, but they’re meant to portray cartoon characters. The content is meant to be silly and a little dumb. Take it for what it is and you’ll find yourself in a jovial place while watching Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins

Streaming Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins

If you’re into picking out the flubs of a movie, keep a keen eye out for one of the final scenes with King Horn where a whole bunch of people are supposed to fall down.

One group of extras doesn’t get the memo and looks really confused while they continue standing around. 

You can find Dragon Ball: The Magic Begins streaming for free on Tubi and FreeVee with ads, or you can pay to rent the movie without commercials on Prime Video. JustWatch provides a full list of ways to see the film. Check it out, and enjoy!