left, director James Wong and actors Joon Park, Emmy Rossum, Chow
Yun-fat, Jamie Chung, Justin Chatwin and James Marsters promote their
movie “Dragonball: Evolution” in Seoul Tuesday. The film, based on
the popular Japanese comic, will make its world premiere March 12 in
South Korea. / Yonhap

By Lee Hyo-won
Staff Reporter

The explosively popular Japanese comic “Dragon Ball” comes to life via Hollywood as “Dragonball: Evolution.” Before its world premiere March 12 in South Korea, the movie’s cast of fresh young actors, Asian superstar Chow Yun-fat and former K-pop star Joon Park (Park Joon-hyung) turned up the temperature a notch in Seoul with their promotional tour Tuesday.

The original 500-plus-episode cartoon is based on the epic fantasy “Chinese Odyssey.” First published in 1984, it sold over 200 million copies worldwide and has been made into three TV animation series, 21 movies and 25 video games.

The new Stephen Chow production brings the story of a teenaged Goku (Justin Chatwin) who, upon the dying wishes of his adoptive grandfather (Randall Duk Kim), seeks out the great masters Roshi (Chow Yun-fat) and
Bulma (Emmy Rossum). With his friends Yamcha (Joon Park) and Chi Chi
(Jamie Chung), he must gather all seven magical orbs or Dragon Balls
before the evil Lord Piccolo (James Marsters) uses them to conquer the

Extensive clips of the movie were revealed exclusively for the Korean
press. “I also love the comic books, but the manga is very (long).
There’s no way to put all that in the movie,” said director James Wong
(“Final Destination”). “The goal also is to be able to introduce
`Dragonball’ not only to fans but those who don’t know it,” he said,
adding that he wanted to craft a story that is relatable to a young
audience. “Hopefully we’ll have a chance to tell the rest of it in
subsequent movies.” The creation of sequels will depend on the success
of the upcoming film, he said.

Chatwin (“Invisible”), who had been a fan of the TV cartoon, said he
was both excited and fearful of interpreting such an iconic character.
He had to undergo intense martial arts training ― “vomiting because
they pushed us so hard.” “But it’s a super fun movie and I’m
absolutely honored,” he said.

Chow, the hero of Hong Kong noir films, plays a rather comical role in
the movie. Dressed in all black instead of his character’s Hawaiian
shirt, he jokingly said his wife ― who is also his manager and mentor ―
“forced” him to take the role because she needed “money to buy a
very famous bag.” He threw the crowded pressroom into more bouts of
laughter with humorous Korean phrases. Chow was last here 15 years ago
for shooting an action movie. He said he was surprised with the
modernization, “but kimchi is still the same” as it is with the
passionate people.

Park said it was a great honor to work with Chow in his second
Hollywood movie after “Speed Racer.” “Mr. Chow is such a huge star
but on the set he is so humble and professional, and gave me a lot of
guidance,” he said. About working in the United States, the former
G.O.D. rapper said he felt proud to see that the Korean film industry
is as sophisticated as Hollywood.

A group of young women waited outside the venue, screaming each time
Park spoke. Chung, an up and coming Korean American actress (“Chuck
and Larry”) said she was surprised to witness Park’s popularity when
his fans greeted him at the airport Monday. “He’s my `oppa’ (big
brother); he took care of me,” she said about working with Park. “I’m
so proud to be here,” she said.

Screen beauty Rossum, who recently shot an advertisement here, said she
was happy to return. “Everyone here has a good sense of humor and I
can see why everyone likes `Dragon Ball.”’ Looking striking in a red
dress, she said she tried to bring Bulma to life as a “feisty,
determined, intelligent, and yes, hopefully a little sexy, woman.”

Marsters pointed out that the movie is based on “Dragon Ball” rather
than “Dragon Ball Z” and that his character Lord Piccolo is a
powerful, muscular villain rather than a decrepit old man. Another
difference, he said, is that the film does not feature Lord Piccolo’s
superpower ability of dismembering himself.

World premiere in South Korea on March 12. For all ages. Distributed by 20th Century Fox Korea