The Dragon Ball franchise includes a manga series, multiple anime series, countless video games, and of course, many movies. Although, the films haven’t always received the same high level of praise that some of the other DB media have. That is partially understandable as plenty of the movies released under the Dragon Ball banner are very formulaic.
However, the best ones include well-written stories, thrilling action sequences, and compelling villains.
Updated on July 26th, 2021 by Melody MacReady: Dragon Ball is an insanely large franchise featuring multiple continuities and different shows in each canon. With dozens of characters, storylines, and villains for Goku and his companions to fight, it’s difficult to stop at just ten movies to talk about. Especially since there are over thirty different films and OVAs for fans of Dragon Ball to find and discover. From Dragon Ball to Dragon Ball Z to Dragon Ball Super, the number of adventures that have occurred is enough to overwhelm any newcomer to this massive anime franchise. It is only rivaled by the likes of Naruto or One Piece.
15 Dragon Ball: Mystical Adventure (1988) – 7.0
This third film is based on the original Dragon Ball but unlike other films, Mystical Adventure does not exist in the main canon. Instead, it’s more of an alternate continuity retelling a more self-contained and compacted version of the Dragon Ball story.
This makes Mystical Adventure both enjoyable and confusing at first. It’s not really anything special, just an overly simplified version of the story but as a martial arts story featuring the seven Dragon Balls, it’s harmless fun that can still be viewed as a “What If” version of Dragon Ball.
14 Dragon Ball Z: The Return Of Cooler (1992) – 7.1
After making quite a splash in Cooler’s Revenge, the titular villain was brought back to cause more problems. This time, Cooler is cybernetic and is enslaving the people of New Namek which causes Goku and the heroes to finish what was started.
The Return Of Cooler was a solid third chapter of the Frieza anthology. It didn’t quite leave the same impact as Cooler’s Revenge or the Frieza Saga itself but Cooler was still a stand-out villain and the battle sequences were still a spectacle to witness.
13 Dragon Ball Z: Super Android 13 (1992) – 7.1
Taking place after Goku is saved from his heart virus and Androids 17 and 18 are killed, Super Android 13 rises. He is intended to be the perfect android to continue Dr. Gero’s work by killing Goku. Though not quite on the same level as Cell, Android 13 was still a worthy foe for Goku and the Z-Fighters.
As it is though, Super Android 13 mainly feels like an extended filler episode rather than an event like most of the Dragon Ball Z films. Still a fun ride nonetheless that shows Android 13 as a precursor to what Cell would be for the rest of the Saga.
12 Dragon Ball Z: Cooler’s Revenge (1991) – 7.2
Frieza was already bad enough but imagine his family: that’s where Cooler’s Revenge comes in, showcasing Frieza’s older brother named Cooler. He comes to Earth, seeking revenge for his brother’s death by destroying Goku.
Despite the idea seeming like a tired cliche, Cooler proved to be a capable villain that surprised fans and managed to not feel like a watered-down version of Frieza. In a way, Cooler was what his father King Cold should have been like rather than the dropped storyline that fans got. Cooler would later return in the aforementioned sequel: The Return Of Cooler.
11 Dragon Ball Z: Bojack Unbound (1993) – 7.2
Before anyone asks, no it is not a crossover between Dragon Ball Z and Bojack Horseman. Bojack is a demon who breaks free from prison on King Kai’s planet to wreak havoc back on Earth. With Goku gone, it’s all up to young Gohan to step up and be the hero.
Fans of Gohan appreciated this movie, showing him struggle with living up to his father’s legacy continuing one of the best character arcs in the franchise. It’s also a darker movie, even darker than most of the Cell Saga, giving the movie an edge that fans appreciate. Bojack and his gang of demons are also considered overlooked villains in the Dragon Ball franchise.
10 Dragon Ball Z: Battle Of Gods (2013) – 7.2
After the franchise went many years without a fully-fledged film release, Battle Of Gods arrived on the scene. And it brought with it a renewed interest in Dragon Ball. The movie tells the story of The God Of Destruction, Beerus, going to King Kai’s planet and then Earth in search of a warrior known as the Super Saiyan God.
Battle of Gods isn’t as significant as it felt upon release because its story has since been retold in the Dragon Ball Z sequel series: Dragon Ball Super, yet, it is still a fun, action-packed film. Later on, in Dragon Ball Super, Super Saiyan God would be surpassed by Super Saiyan Blue.
9 Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ (2015) – 7.3
Frieza has long been one of Dragon Ball‘s best and most powerful villains, so there was plenty of excitement when it was announced that he’d be returning in Resurrection ‘F’. In the film, the remains of his army wish him back with the Dragon Balls. Then after his body is put back together and he has trained for the first time in his life, Frieza makes his way to Earth to kill Goku.
Once the Emperor and his army get to the planet, the movie starts getting really exciting due to some exceptionally animated fight scenes. The battle between the Z-Fighters and members of Frieza’s army is particularly impressive.
8 Dragon Ball: The Path To Power (1996) – 7.4
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the original Dragon Ball anime, Toei Animation released Dragon Ball: The Path To Power, which retells several arcs of the show, similarly to Mystical Adventure. While the evergreen Dragon Ball series didn’t need retelling, Path to Power is still an enjoyable adventure.
The movie is very fast-paced and removes some of the unnecessary events of the anime. However, a number of great characters and moments also miss out, which means the original series remains the ultimate version of the story. Path to Power is a nice alternative, though.
7 Dragon Ball: Episode Of Bardock (2011) – 7.5
Despite not featuring a lot in the franchise (excluding in the games), the ruthless Bardock is a very popular character. This could explain why this what-if scenario ranks so highly amongst fans.
After the destruction of his homeworld, Bardock wakes up on a familiar-looking planet named Planet Plant and is quickly tasked with protecting its inhabitants from a member of the Frieza race named Chilled. The story is a little strange, but it’s an entertaining OVA nonetheless.
6 Dragon Ball Z: Wrath Of The Dragon (1995) – 7.5
Wrath of the Dragon is a unique Dragon Ball movie in a few ways. Firstly, it introduces a new non-villainous character (which the films don’t tend to do). And secondly, the Z-Fighters aren’t the main focus of the film’s story.
The new hero is the compelling warrior known as Tapion. He starts the movie stuck inside a magical music box until a being named Hoi, with the help of the Z-Fighters, releases him. Although Hoi wasn’t interested in helping Tapion, he just wanted to let out the monster who was trapped within the hero. It’s a captivating plot that is better than most Dragon Ball movies.
5 Dragon Ball Z: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan (1993) – 7.5
As far as villain motivations go, the original Broly has one of the worst. The Legendary Super Saiyan wants to destroy Goku because when the latter was a baby, he cried a lot, keeping Broly awake. Thankfully though, the film’s main plot about Broly’s father, Paragus, attempting to get revenge on Vegeta for his father’s misdeeds is much more interesting.
Although, the highlight of the flick is the battle between the Z-Fighters and Broly as it’s a hard-hitting brawl. The villain’s extremely physical style of fighting is a joy to watch and is a big reason why he is so beloved.
4 Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn (1995) – 7.7
This film is best remembered for including the first appearance of Gogeta, which is the name of the being Goku and Vegeta become when they use the fusion dance. The two Saiyans are forced to combine so they can stop the mighty Janemba, who has released all of the inhabitants of hell.
The action scenes between Goku, Vegeta, and Janemba are fantastic in this movie, with the latter being an exceptional villain. Although, the film could’ve done without Gohan defeating the revived Frieza with one punch.
3 Dragon Ball Z: Bardock – The Father Of Goku (1990) – 7.9
This special immediately stands out due to its protagonist, as Bardock is very different from his son, Goku. The younger Saiyan tends to be morally righteous, whereas his father is cold-blooded.
In Bardock – The Father of Goku, the title character tries to lead a rebellion against the powerful Frieza. The special does an amazing job at making Bardock a ruthless yet sympathetic figure, all in under an hour. And while still giving viewers a fascinating look at Saiyan civilization.
2 Dragon Ball Z: The History Of Trunks (1993) – 7.9
Few Dragon Ball stories are as well-written as The History of Trunks. It’s set in a bleak future where a young Trunks and a battle-hardened Gohan are the only ones left who are capable of keeping the killer Androids at bay. There is a clear sense of desperation every time the two Saiyans attempt to combat Androids 17 and 18, which adds a lot to the TV special.
Plus, the relationship between Trunks and Gohan is built brilliantly throughout, and it leads to one of the most powerful moments ever seen in a piece of Dragon Ball media. It’s required viewing for any DBZ fan.
1 Dragon Ball Super: Broly (2018) – 7.9
The latest Dragon Ball film retcons Broly and brings him into the main canon. This time around, the large villain meets Vegeta and Goku when he and his father are recruited by Frieza. Once again, Paragus wants revenge on the always quotable Vegeta for his father’s actions, so he orders Broly to kill the Saiyan Prince.
This leads to a series of exhilarating and intense battles pitting Vegeta and Goku against Broly. All of which look stunning due to the film’s excellent visuals and animations. Plus, the inclusion of the always entertaining Frieza, a Gogeta appearance, and a more interesting backstory for Broly, all help make this a wonderful film.
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