g33king out for: Dragon Ball Z: Light of Hope


I remember sitting in class one day reading up on DBZ, when all of a sudden, BREAKING NEWS! Dragon Ball Z is going to have a live-action movie adaptation! My heart pounded, and I felt excitement surge throughout my body as I imagined eventually seeing this movie. Oh, how wrong I was. Dragonball (should have been a clear sign when they couldn’t even get the wording correct, DRAGON_BALL) Evolution was one of the worst films ever, scoring a 2.9/10 on IMDb and a 14% on Rotton Tomatoes.  There is a light of hope though! Robot Underdog has taken on the challenge of creating a great live-action Dragon Ball Z series in Dragon Ball Z: Light of Hope!

Take a look at the trailer below:

I had a chance to sit with Derek Padula, writer of Dragon Ball Z: Light of hope, author of the #1 best-selling book It’s Over 9,000!, and webmaster of The Dao of Dragon Ball, for a quick interview on what we can expect from this series.


Derek Padula


G33king Out: What is Dragon Ball Z: Light of Hope?

Derek Padula: Dragon Ball Z: Light of Hope is a live-action Dragon Ball Z web series, that is an adaptation of the history of Trunks TV Special, and what we are doing is creating 3 episodes that tell that story of Trunks and Gohan trying to survive against Android 17 and 18 in this hellish world where all of their friends are dead and they have to find a way to defeat these villains.


GO: How does it fit into the Dragon Ball Z universe, from the sounds of it this will be an adaptation?

DP: Yes, we aren’t doing a shot-for-shot recreation because we feel what’s the point? The anime already exists,  and the manga already written by Akira Toriyama.  Fans are already familiar with that and they know that and you can’t beat that right?


GO: Exactly! So why try to reinvent the wheel, haha!

DP: Haha, so they came to me.  Robot Underdog (they are the producers of the film), they wanted a professional script.  I am the author of the “Dao of Dragonball” book series and website, and Dragon Ball is my life! I was inspired by it to take Shaolin Kung Fu, train in China with the Shaolin monks and Tai Chi masters, and made it my lifestyle. I made it my major in school, I learned Chinese and Japanese, and I just became obsessed with DBZ. So I know DBZ like the back of my hand because I live and breath it, and I know these characters really well, so the goal here to was to tell a unique story that takes these familiar characters and the Dragon Ball world and give fans something they always wanted, a live-action Dragon Ball Z, done right!

GO: Besides DBZ what other shows did you watch growing up?

DP: You know the usual stuff on Cartoon Network, that’s when I started falling in love with DBZ.  In 1997 when Toonami was getting really big and I watched Naruto, read the mangas, things like that with the Shonen Jump style. So I have tried to incorporate that positivity of this idea of “hope”, that if we work together and we really endure and we just try our train our butts off and work really hard, no matter how challenging the villain or the internal goal is we can do it, we can burst through our limits, we can make it there if we try hard enough. What’s unique about this web series is that it’s dark, it’s set in the history of Trunks alternate timeline when, like I said, their family members are dead and it’s a pretty dark storyline.  It’s probably the darkest storyline in the whole DBZ series, and Robot Underdog chose that particular timeline and story because it had the most appeal to a modern audience who’s use to seeing things like “Batman”, series like “The Dark Knight”; and that’s what people want these days. So we are using that sort of feel in it, but it’s still Dragon Ball Z, it still has that intense action and excite that fans expect.

GO: I know we remember the great adaptation Hollywood gave us, how do you stay loyal to the source material and what can fans expect, especially the die hard DBZ fans?

DP: No one likes Dragon Ball: Evolution, haha, it is what it is. Stephen Chow was involved, and you know he is great.  He could have done a great job with it, but then he left because he saw where it was headed and he just backed off and said didn’t want anything to do with it. Piccolo was originally going to be gray, and James Marsters had to fight for him to be green, you know, and we might have not even had a green Piccolo. It’s things like these that boggle the mind, but to a true Dragon Ball Z fan it’s a given, it’s just things you have to have. And in this web series you are going to hit all the things you expect. You’re going to have Gohan turning Super Saiyan, you’re going to have the Androids, Android 17 is going to be playful, 18 is going to be a bad-ass, she is going to be what you think of as the characters in the series should be, just in real life. We have a great CG team, we have 3 visual effects artists who work in Hollywood, and they’re familiar with how to do all these great special effects. So you’re going to have people flying around, shooting kai blasts, powering up, big golden auras. There’s going to be a lot of drama, because it is one of the most dramatic specials or timelines in the series.  Somebody might die, I don’t know, I’m not going to say who, somebody might also turn into a Super Saiyan.  I don’t know, but it’s going to be pretty exciting!


GO: Who would you say your favorite Dragon Ball Z character is?

DP: Definitely Goku, he’s the one who inspires me the most to try to rise up to higher levels and be my best, but realistically I am more like Gohan. I’m sort of the scholar with a lot of potential, who gets trapped up in all these human things and has to survive and make a living, when I wish I could spend all my time training.


GO: From the looks of the trailer, it looks like Dragon Ball Z: Light of Hope has a high-end production value. DP: What can you tell me about the production itself?

DP: It’s being produced in Los Angeles, it’s going to be filmed this summer, and be directed by Donnie McMillin and produced by his wife, Rita. We have some really talented martial artists onboard. Amy Johnston who plays Android 18, Anton Bex as Gohan, Tyler Tackett as Android 17. We got future Trunks lined up, we have Jack Wald as young Trunks, and all of these people are Dragon Ball Z fans; they are all really emphatic about these roles. Like I said, we’re going to be filming this summer for episode 1, and we are currently crowd funding on IndieGoGo (http://igg.me/at/robotunderdogDBZ).  The campaign ends April 2nd, so we really need the support of all the Dragon Ball Z fans out there. We are only half way to our goal of over $9,000, our goal is $9,001, and we are half-way there! So please chip in, do your best, if you want to see a live Dragon Ball Z done right, this is your hope! We are making this as a light of hope for all Dragon Ball Z fans across the world, and the more you contribute, the faster it will get done and at a higher level of quality.

GO: When and where can we see the first episode?

DP: We are in pre-production now, so the cast is doing their martial arts choreography and training with wire work and gymnastics. We have a choreographer involved named Lohan Buson and he is doing a great job. So they are going through the fight scenes, and then they are going to film the episodes over the next month or two.  After that will be post production, so that is up to Underdog, I’m not sure the exact timeline they have but like I said, the more funding we get, the faster it will get done.

GO: Anything else you would like to add about Dragon Ball Z: Light of Hope?

DP: Yeah, I think this is, in my opinion, this is the biggest, best Dragon Ball Z project that has ever been done in live-action.  We are pouring our hearts and souls into it everyday, I’ve written the best darn script I know how to write, and every member of the cast and crew are pouring themselves into this, because we love Dragon Ball Z, we are Dragon Ball Z fans, and we really want to do something that stands the test of time.  Like I said, we aren’t doing a shot for shot recreation, this is an original script that has the Dragon Ball Z characters and elements in it, it’s going to give you guys something that you love with a little bit of sentimentality and that “Oh hey that’s the thing from the show” and “I love that part”. The music is going to be originally composed, everything is going to be top of the line and we really hope it stands the test of time and will be watched for years to come!

GO: Thank you Derek, I look forward to seeing the first episode coming soon!

DP: Thank you, I really appreciate this!


Make sure to check out Dragon Ball Z: Light of Hope’s Youtube page where you will find updates and behind the scenes videos on the project, and if you like what you see make sure to check out their IndieGoGo page by April 2nd, 2014!


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About the Author

Anthony Andrews

Anime, video games, and dancing frogs! All describe CaptainAsia. He can be seen drifting around the mountain passes of the US delivering tofu to hotels at night and by day he is like an Asian Clark Kent: except writing about weird, irrelevant stuff.

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One Comment

  1. derekpadula April 2, 2014 Reply

    Thanks for the great interview, Anthony! We appreciate the support of all the DBZ fans out there!

    I’m glad to answer your readers questions in these comments if they have any.

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