It’s a case of déjà-vu as FUNimation brings out Broly again on Blu-ray but with one extra movie to mirror the special collections being released on DVD at the same time.
What They Say
Broly, The Legendary Super Saiyan
A mysterious messenger delivers horrific news: a vicious Super Saiyan is rampaging through space, and he will not stop until the galaxy is left smoldering. Goku and Vegeta rush to confront the menace - but the true danger is much closer than they think. Broly is a force of unspeakable malice, with powers that rage beyond control - and he has the Z fighters in his sights.
Broly, Second Coming
An investigation into the crash of a strange vessel quickly turns into a battle that not even Earth's most powerful heroes are guaranteed to win. Broly, one of the greatest threats the universe has ever known, has returned - and this time, Goku might be powerless to stop him. Broly has gone insane from the hatred that boils inside him; an anger that burns hotter than even the pits of the fiery underworld. The entire cosmos will suffer unless the sons of Broly's greatest rival can defeat him - and it will take nothing short of a miracle.
Corruption and technology have united to resurrect one of the greatest forces of evil the universe has ever known - Broly is back and more deadly than ever. This time, the Super Saiyan may prove to be unstoppable. A dangerous experiment has gone haywire, and a mysterious substance has been released from a secret laboratory. The oozing menace absorbs all in its path, gaining power from all that it touches. When the creeping slime ingests Broly, the uncontrollable combination threatens to devour the entire world.
The audio presentation of this release is rather good overall and is the kind of release that does its best to cater to all the different fans that have come to the show over the years. The original Japanese language is essentially preserved here in its mono form using a 640kbps encode. I’m not quite sure any higher would be useful but it does sound much better than any of the previous releases I’ve heard on DVD for it which typically ran about 192kbps. Not unlike the previous Blu-ray releases of other Dragon Ball Z movies, it’s the English language side that makes out the best as we get two Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mixes with its variable bit rate. The two mixes are rather different as one contains the original Japanese music (sans vocals for the most part) while the other is the one done originally with the US created music. Depending on which you’re a fan of, you’ll be happy with this release regardless since you can sample both in high definition audio. The 5.1 mixes are significantly better than the DVD ones as they have a lot more impact overall and a greater presence. At the same time though, they aren’t really stand out pieces to begin with so just because it’s in TrueHD doesn’t mean it’ll blow your doors off. It is a solid presentation all around for what was originally a pair of mono movies released back in the early nineties.
Originally in theaters back in 1993 and 1994, the transfer for these three films are presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and are authored using the AVC codec. The experience for these three specials is really the same as we had on the earlier movie releases in the franchise in that the material is really limited by what it was. These features never looked great to begin with but these three in particular are looking better than the earlier ones with a lot less grain in general. I’m not looking for clean pristine presentations of films that have grain in them, so it doesn’t bother me so grain doesn’t make me cry. Unlike the DVD presentations of it though, it doesn’t result in noticeable blocking. The colors in general look much brighter and more solid than ever before and overall it feels more fluid. These films are not ones that I have any real expectations for and it reminds me of how they were when we first got them on DVD. It was great to have something new on DVD and to get a bilingual Dragon Ball Z flick, but it wasn’t going to win anyone over.
Using standard Blu-ray packaging, the cover art for this release mirrors that of the DVD steelbook and makes me again wish the Blu-ray edition got the same thing. The cover artwork is straightforward as it has Broly with is muscles rippling as he has a big angry moment with him set against an indistinct background that has other characters shadowed. Below him is both the franchise logo and that of the two movies done in a similar fashion to the earlier movie releases. The consistency is definitely a plus in re-establishing these movies as part of a proper collection as opposed to a mish mash of things. The back cover is similar in its design as it has Broly along the left from the show with a black background. There’s a bit more color here as there are a few shots from the show and a good bit of very small text to provide the summaries of the three features included. The discs technical features are clearly listed in an easy to read grid while the remainder of the information is kept to the bottom. Hopefully over time a proper technical grid will be developed that will keep everything in the same place for quick reference. The insert that is included with this release is simple in that it has a fold-out piece that shows the original cover artwork while the back of it talks about the transfer of the film. We do get some reverse side artwork that features a scene of Broly in another action pose that’s spread out across both panels in full color of the keepcase as well.
The menus that FUNimation used in their first release was pretty weak but they’ve got things working much better here. The main menu has clips from the features playing along with the logo overlaid on top of it. The pop-up menu and the main menu navigation are one and the same so it has a good consistency there though they are fairly minimal in design. There isn’t a lot you can do theme-wise with this so the sleek approach works pretty well. Individual feature selection is available here and when you go into playing a particular feature, you can choose options there. Submenus load quickly and the trailers section is decently done. The only suggestion to mention here is to include the resolution next to the title for when high definition trailers start to be included as they will be the ones that are looked at.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first Broly two film feature marked FUNimation's first foray into high definition media. The films are considered the most popular of the franchise and the series certainly has more mainstream appeal than the vast majority of their catalog of titles. It made sense to release the first two Broly movies but I admit to being less than certain about their re-release of it already, though we do get more content out of it. If you already bought the first release, well, pony up again if you want Bio-Broly. I would have liked to have seen some sort of discount program offered for those that bought the first release. That said, they are continuing to mirror their DVD steelbook releases so it was little surprise that we ended up with this coming out in high definition again, and with the company a bit more adept at the format.
The three movies center around the legendary super Saiyan that will become known as Broly. The first feature revolves around his introduction which takes place in the time period where Goku is still alive and Vegeta is grudgingly living on Earth with Bulma. Trunks is still hanging around in his teenage form and there's a strange sense of family to all of it. Everything changes when another Saiyan, a weak one, come to inform Vegeta that a new world has been set for him to rule. It's all a trap based in personal history in which Vegeta is being lured there to be defeated. Goku ends up there after King Kai informs him of a new threat that must be dealt with immediately. A few tagalongs end up there as well as Master Roshi and Gohan find themselves making their way on board.
The bulk of the show once the discovery is made about the trap is focused on the fight between Broly and just about everyone else. It's a bit of an odd fight, though one that has a great motivator to it. The entire planet, which has been subjugated and ruined by the Saiyans, is about to be destroyed by a cosmic event. So even if everyone wins there's still a larger threat looming. Not unlike many other Dragon Ball Z movies, the bulk of it is about the fighting and that plays out well as everyone increases in strength and the entire world is their battlefield. Where it feels weak though is with some characters like Vegeta that are easily tossed aside. That's not entirely unheard of but his reactions to it feel very out of character. The main draw is the fight between Goku and Broly though and that does have some great moments.
The second feature bumps things forward several years to the period where Goten is running around with the young Trunks and Vidale. Gohan is playing up his super hero role and is making his way in the world now that he's arguably the worlds strongest. Broly's been lying dormant on Earth for a bit now but he's finally awakened and is about to face the next generation of martial artists. Initially Goten was a character that frustrated me but as I started to delve into the original Dragon Ball material I found more appeal in him. Not unlike the first movie, there are some large scale fights here that really shine, particularly when Gohan gets into the picture. The childish moments are amusing in their own way, though my kids laughed more than I did when Trunks wet himself on Broly, but it's not out of place in this franchise in general.
What frustrates me the most, and this is evident in numerous specials, movies and later material in the franchise, is that even when Goku has moved on they keep finding ways to bring him back. It negates his own sacrifice and what he went through but also gives everyone a convenient out when things get too heated. It's almost like they write themselves into a corner about a storyline and realize they made things too big and have to fall back on the retired star quarterback. While this one does make some sense in the context of finishing what was started in the first feature, it's an element to the movie and the franchise in general that continues to frustrate and annoy me.
The new feature on this release is the third one, Bio-Broly. With Broly having proven so popular and being brought back once, what’s another time around? This time it’s kept in the realm of young Trunks and Goten again as they find out through circumstances that Broly’s DNA has been found and utilized in a cloning experiment by someone who wants to form his own army of Biowarriors. He’s a childhood friend/enemy of Mr. Satan and he wants to show Mr. Satan up at long last and does his best to draw him to his island where the laboratories are. Of course, No. 18 and others tag along for it for their own reasons and the discovery that there’s a version of the evil that is Broly there sets the young lads on fire. Having faced him previously, they’re very aware of the danger he possesses.
The shortest of the three features on the disc, clocking in at just over forty-six minutes, Bio-Broly really does feel like a tacked on adventure. There’s the idea that maybe some of what made Broly who he was is in this clone version of him, but it’s fleshed out so little that it’s just the kind of suspension of disbelief you need to make it through the whole thing. Like a lot of other segments in the further adventures of the Dragon Ball Z universe, Bio-Broly devalues what has come before by going back to the well and tweaking it a bit to use a popular character. It’s like when Frieza and others came back from the dead with a ton of other villains to wreck havoc on the world for a few minutes but were considered inconsequential compared to the new threat. If you go back and view the Frieza saga, or the previous Broly material as well, it doesn’t hold up as well because you know how far down the well they’ve gone to mine it some more. It’s even worse here because we get to watch Broly go from top form to sludgey-clone form at the end.
The release of this triple-feature certainly wasn’t a surprise but it’s an early double-dip in the Blu-ray market by FUNimation. It’s certainly appreciated though as the original release had its issues and this corrects most of them when it comes to style and such. The addition of the third feature helps it to mirror that steelbook DVD release edition as well and allows the high definition fan to get in on the fun as well. Broly hasn’t exactly been a favorite of mine, in design or in personality, so this set has left me sort of unimpressed in general. It’s a reminder of why I fell out of favor with large chunks of Dragon Ball Z after awhile since it didn’t have a lot of focus once it finished certain key arcs. The specials and movies are mostly standalone inconsistent highlights of these flaws. There’s fun to be had here with big smash-up moments, but that’s the extent of it.
Japanese Language, English Language (US Music), English Language (Japanese Music), English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.