There aren’t many animes that can match up to the fights in Dragon Ball. The over-the-top power-ups and the choreography and soundtrack are easily the most beloved part of the show, and one of the reasons anime has made the jump to the mainstream.
While only a few of the Dragon Ball movies are considered canon, that doesn’t mean the fights are any less epic. These movies offer some of the franchise’s best moments, from classic Z Fighter team-ups to showcasing Goku’s spectacular transformations.
Z Fighters vs. Broly, ‘Dragon Ball Z: Broly — The Legendary Super Saiyan’ (1993)
Before being canonized and given a revamp in the 2018 Dragon Ball Super film, Broly was a villain with monstrous strength who hated Goku… because he cried a lot in the crib next to him.
For most of this fight, Vegeta sits on the sideline, cowering in fear at the “legendary” Saiyan. It’s one of the few fights that the Z fighters flat-out lose. Broly toys with them, and it’s only until the Z fighters transfer all their power to Goku that he can defeat him.
Gohan vs. Bojack, ‘Dragon Ball Z: Bojack Unbound’ (1993)
Shortly after Cell’s defeat by Gohan in Dragon Ball Z, Bojack is a villain. Dragon Ball Z Bojack is a villain released from his prison because Goku blew up King Kai’s planet to save Earth from Cell.
With Vegeta, Trunks and Piccolo knocked out, Goku appears from Other World to save Gohan from Bojack. Seeing his father, if only briefly, gives Gohan the inspiration and strength to transform to Super Saiyan Grade 2 (SSJ2) and easily defeat Bojack and his group.
Z Fighters vs. Hirudegarn, ‘Dragon Ball Z: Wrath of the Dragon’ (1995)
This fight has practically everything you want in a Dragon Ball Z movie: giant Kaiju monster, Goku, Gohan, and Goten team-up, Super Saiyan Grade 3 (SSJ3) Gotenks, and SSJ3 Goku; it’s a culmination of exciting power-ups.
However, the wildest part of this movie isn’t any of those things; it’s how Goku defeats Hirudegarn. His weakness is he is prone to high levels of emotion, and then he takes damage. Goku proceeds to insult him and then sends an attack that manifests as gold-tinted Shenron through the chest of Hirudegarn.
Bardock vs. Frieza Minions, ‘Dragon Ball Z: Bardock – The Father of Goku’ (1990)
After discovering Frieza’s plot to destroy Planet Vegeta, Bardock makes his last attempt to stop the genocide of his race. Like father, like son, Bardock doesn’t go down without a fight.
Bardock attempts to defeat all of Frieza’s army. While he does take a handful of them with him, he is eventually overwhelmed by Frieza’s supernova and taken out with the rest of Planet Vegeta. Although, there is a follow-up called Episode of Bardock, which shows that Bardock survived his planet’s destruction.
This film features a great Goku and Vegeta team-up fight and marks the first time Vegeta appeared in a DBZ movie. For the uninitiated, Cooler is Frieza’s brother, who Goku had previously fought in Dragon Ball Z: Cooler’s Revenge. Cooler seemingly perished in the battle, but like the Six Million Dollar Man, he was rebuilt and is back to wreak havoc across the galaxy. When it seems that Goku and Vegeta put down the tin tyrant for good, they realize there is a whole army of Coolers out for them.
The two Saiyans give one last power-up before being overwhelmed and captured off-screen, but they put up a heck of a fight. Metal Cooler is super unique, and his regeneration ability is amazingly animated. Cooler’s original final form is possibly the coolest design of any villain, but his metal form is a close second.
Gohan and Goten vs. Broly, ‘Dragon Ball Z: Broly — Second Coming’ (1994)
Several years after defeating Broly, he returns after being awoken from under ice by the cries of Goten: it seems that there is literally nothing that Broly hates more than crying.
Gohan and Goten’s final combined Kamehameha doesn’t prove to be enough, but an appearance by Goku from Other World gives their attack enough juice to finish what he started and sends Broly into space.
Goku vs. Janemba, ‘Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn’ (1995)
Arguably Goku’s most astonishing SSJ3 transformation, this fight takes place entirely in Other World, where Goku and Vegeta currently are during the Majin Buu Saga.
Sean Schemmel’s screams during Goku’s SSJ3 transformation are unbelievable, and Bruce Faulconer’s score always adds the intensity these power-ups deserve. Gogeta also makes his first appearance in this movie, but he shows up later on the list.
Goku vs. Frieza, ‘Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F” (2015)
Frieza’s return marked big things for Dragon Ball. One of the most celebrated villains in fiction, Frieza, came in sporting a new golden look after training for the very first time in his life.
Of course, it had been a while since these two met, so their reunion was bound to be capped with an intense battle, and it didn’t disappoint. Even in Super Saiyan Blue form, Goku has his hands full. After the battle, he unceremoniously gets taken out by one of Frieza’s men: a typical move from the tyrant.
Goku vs. Beerus, ‘Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods’ (2013)
Whenever a new form is introduced, it is immediately marked as a milestone in Dragon Ball: Super Saiyan, Super Saiyan 2, and Super Saiyan 3 are all enormous moments. In Battle of Gods, Super Saiyan God was introduced.
Goku got a new look, a red aura with red hair, and the power to fight a God of Destruction with it. Super Saiyan Blue would quickly overtake this look in the Dragon Ball Super anime, but it was still awesome to see Goku get a significant upgrade.
Vegeta/Goku/Gogeta vs. Broly, ‘Dragon Ball Super: Broly’ (2018)
Perhaps the most visually stunning fight in the franchise’s history, bringing back the Legendary Super Saiyan Broly, did not disappoint. Most importantly, they gave Broly more personality and altered his backstory.
After Vegeta and Goku fail to stop Broly individually and as a team, they force Frieza to endure a battle against the monster. At the same time, they teleport to Piccolo to learn the fusion technique. Thus, two of the coolest Dragon Ball characters, Broly and Gogeta, are officially brought into canon in one movie.
KEEP READING: How To Watch ‘Dragon Ball’ Movies In Order
‘The Mandalorian’: Jon Favreau Discusses How Much of the Series is Planned Ahead