I took a 6 month hiatus from my meticulous curation and review of the Dragon Ball Z movies, but I have returned and seek to do justice. I actually watched Cooler’s Revenge back in September, but wasn’t inspired to write after and just let things sit while I moved cross-country. Well, I’m moved now, so we must return to form.
This is the first DBZ movie to take place post-Frieza, so things start off with a flashback to Bardock’s mutiny and death at the hands of Frieza while Goku is sent to Earth via escape pod. Cooler, who is watching the entire thing unfold from his ship, is prompted to destroy the escape pod, but declines. An escaped saiyan is Frieza’s problem, he says as he inadvertently spins the wheels of fate by letting baby Goku live.
The movie begins with yet another ill-fated camping trip. Seriously, Goku and the Z-Fighters must just be incredibly optimistic, because every single time they go camping it seems to signal another end-of-world scenario with an invader from space coincidentally arriving. At least this time the invaders are specifically concerned with killing Goku rather than absorbing the nutrients of the planet, saving us a 20 minute segue about the Z-Fighters gathering the Dragon Balls and restoring the forest.
One thing I will say about the antagonists in this one is they get down to business very quickly. No sooner have the Z-Fighters set up camp and put some soup on the fire before Salza, Dore, and Neilz stealthily KO Gohan and Krillin in search of Goku. As soon as Goku shows up to do the traditional spring cleaning of low level bad guys, Cooler interrupts and mortally wounds Goku while he protects Gohan, and the two fall from the sky, into the river, and down a waterfall.
The next portion of the movie revolves around restoring the heavily-injured Goku to fighting form, and Gohan must go fetch Senzu beans while Krillin hides with Goku. I actually like this part, because it was nice to see Icarus and other less-utilized characters in DBZ able to take the center screen. When Gohan must scale Kami’s Tower in order to ask for the beans, it is very reminiscent of Goku’s own youth in Dragon Ball. One thing I particularly enjoyed was that the ever-timid Gohan, despite the fate of the world being in the balance, is so concerned with his manners that he actually gives the Senzu beans back after Kami lightly presses him for a gift. Though really, any time we see Yajirobe and Kami, it’s a good thing.
On his way back to Goku, Gohan is confronted by the three Armored Squad goons, and is once again saved from certain death by his true father, Piccolo. Piccolo has a complicated record with most of the non-boss antagonists. Half the time he is annihilating them, and then other times he is beaten profusely by them to help Goku power up. This time, however, he makes short work of them, engaging all three of the Armored Squad at once. Even when it looks like they’ve caught him, Piccolo ends up literally frying Neilz before resuming his pursuit of Salza. However, before Piccolo can rectify his history against big boss minions and make his body count 3 for 3, Cooler annihilates him in one hit and brings his body to Goku as a trophy.
The actual fight between Cooler and Goku is pretty standard fare. The animation is engaging enough, but we all know that with the introduction of Super Saiyan into the mix, the fight will be decided once it is engaged. Goku gets knocked around for a good while, but the two finally decide to step things up and enter their most powerful forms. This fight actually doesn’t last that long in comparison to some others, once the gauntlets are thrown down we see a very timely resolution: Cooler gets shot into the motherfucking sun.
Yes. Goku beats Cooler by deflecting his ultimate attack, and the momentum carries him so far he literally hits the surface of the sun — but not before having a flashback to the time on his ship when he could have killed Goku and prevented everything from happening.
My biggest takeaway from this movie was that I was not really impressed by Cooler. Frieza has always been one of my favorite villains and it seems Cooler is only similar in form. Frieza’s cruelty, cowardice, and desperation are all things that Cooler seems to lack, and it just made him feel flat. Obviously I have a lot more of Cooler to see after a quick overview of the movie titles, so perhaps this will be remedied in the later entries.
Cooler’s Revenge was just okay, certainly didn’t change my life. I would place it in the middle of the ones I’ve watched so far, aside from the great fight with Piccolo and the Armored Squadron it was mostly standard fare for Dragon Ball Z movies, and it felt like Cooler was wasted as a villain despite having a pretty good motivation for coming to Earth. Hopefully the next one will be better!