With a bunch of their pals tagging along, Goku and Gohan set out for a relaxing camping trip, but their vacation is cut short when Cooler and his minions mount a devastating attack. Hellbent on seeking vengeance for the destruction of his brother Frieza, Cooler sets out to exterminate the final few surviving Saiyans. Goku suffers a near-fatal blow but manages to slink away to safety in a hidden cave. Cooler stands off in the distance as his henchmen ravage everything in sight, hoping to smoke out Goku and Gohan on the off-chance they somehow managed to survive. The remaining Z Warriors are no match for Cooler and his flunkies, and left to fend for himself, Gohan seeks out some way to restore his fallen father to full strength.
The Return of Cooler
As the planet of New Namek is devoured by a colossal, mechanical orb, Goku and his friends hop aboard a space shuttle to lend a hand against the invading robot army. The metallic shells of these attacking androids can seemingly not be pierced, and as the Z Warriors struggle futilely against them, they discover the force guiding the assault. Cooler survived being vaporized by Goku during their previous battle, but now more machine than man and able to instantly repair any damage he suffers, is the power of a Super-Saiyan -- or two, even -- enough to stop him again?
Neither of the movies in this double feature are exactly densely plotted character studies. Cooler's Revenge requires a bit of backstory to fully appreciate the setup -- and the brief intro it serves up probably won't be enough for the uninitiated to follow -- but really, both halves of this double feature boil down to colossally destructive battles and not much else. The assaults dominate virtually every last frame of these two movies, both of which run just over 45 minutes a piece. The scale isn't as epic as a number of the other Dragon Ball Z films, focusing primarily on Goku squaring off against Cooler while the other warriors battle robots and other assorted minions. Cooler is a more compelling nemesis than usual, though, particularly in The Return... where he comes across even more as an unstoppable threat, and the battle sequences in these two movies are as spectacular as ever. This double feature wouldn't be a recommended starting place for Dragon Ball neophytes, but fans of the series drawn in more by the dazzling action and not so much by its mythology or characters ought to find this latest set worth picking up. Recommended.
Both halves of this double feature were released theatrically in Japan, and the 1.78:1 video on this Blu-ray disc should match their framing on the big screen closely enough. Cooler's Revenge and The Return of Cooler really don't look that different than any of the other Dragon Ball Z movies that FUNimation has issued on Blu-ray, so fans ought to know what they're getting into by now. Both movies are bright and colorful, and there's a modest boost in clarity and detail over an upconverted DVD. The source still shows some wear, and these movies continue to be bombarded by heavy noise reduction that softens the linework and leaves the image looking kind of smeared. Again, though, this latest double feature is in the same league as the other Dragon Ball Z sets on Blu-ray, and however you've been reacting to those, I don't think you'll feel any differently this time around.
* Even though the quality really hasn't varied from earlier releases, I've decided to score Blu-ray discs weighed down by heavy noise reduction more critically than I have in the past. That's why this latest double feature carries a lower score than the other Dragon Ball Z sets I've reviewed. Audio
Cooler's Revenge and The Return of Cooler both feature a pair of 16-bit Dolby TrueHD 5.1 remixes: one with the English dialogue and a kind of out-of-place hard rock soundtrack, and another with the English dub playing against the original Japanese music. As always, the original Japanese audio -- dialogue and all! -- has also been included, and even though it's thin, shrill, and in lossy Dolby Digital mono, this is still my preferred way of watching Dragon Ball Z. The English remixes are technically fine -- surround use is kind of light even in the most chaotic attacks, and the subwoofer doesn't rattle quite as often as usual -- but hearing the dialogue in its original Japanese just sounds right to me. Still, it's appreciated that FUNimation continues to go to the effort of serving up so many different audio options to give fans a choice.
English subtitles -- translated from the original Japanese rather than rote transcriptions from the dub -- are also available.
The only extras are plugs for other FUNimation titles. The Final Word
Even though this fifth high-def Dragon Ball Z double feature really just boils down to Goku squaring off against the Near-Invincible Alien Badnik of the Week for an hour and a half, the colossal, unrelenting action is still infectious, hyperkinetic fun. Recommended.