DOA: Dead or Alive My Reviews 13 OCT 2007

DOA   Dead or AliveThere are lots of movies made every year, some good, a lot bad. And then there are some that are simply a waste of time. Whenever I pick movies, I tend to pick these ones for some or other strange reason. Not purposefully though mind you, but somehow I always get suckered into choosing them (in other words, never put me in charge of selecting the movies for a movie night). – DOA: Dead or Alive is the latest waste of time to sucker me (and poor Chantelle) into watching it.

DOA: Dead or Alive is a martial arts action movie loosely based on the popular Dead or Alive fighting game series produced by Tecmo/Team Ninja. Released in 2006, it is directed by Cory Yuen and is probably best know for the fact that it stars Aussie singer Holly Valance in one of the lead kickass roles.

As with all of these fighting game adaptations (think Street Fighter or Mortal Combat if you must), the movies basic plot revolves around a martial arts tournament that invites only the worlds top combatants in their style, all vying for the 10 million dollar top prize. The storys four lead antagonists are Tina Armstrong (Jaime Pressly), Christie Allen (Holly Valance), Kasumi (Devon Aoki), and Helena Douglas (Sarah Carter), each partaking in the tournament for their own private reasons. (As you might be able to tell by now, the film focuses heavily on the good looking women, pretty much pushing the men aside so that they can have more lingering bikini shots – it is that kind of martial arts movie). The plot thickens when it is revealed that the competitions organiser Dr. Victor Donovan (Eric Robers – yes, the brother of Julia Roberts) has a more sinister purpose for the tournaments combatants in mind and the show predictably spirals downwards along the usual beaten track.

This movie really, really doesnt like to do anything new, other than add way more bikini shots than any other movie in this genre has ever done. Sorry, but as nice as all the ladies look, it really doesnt help the film in any way whatsoever. No wonder it was a box-office bomb, pretty much sinking worldwide.

The movies choreography is great and extensive use of wire acrobatics and fighting are employed to good effect, but the use of actors without fighting training or experience really shows, with the result that the fights come across as very, very fake, almost to the point of being completely unwatchable. The low age restriction doesnt help either, leaving us for example with a sword fight scene in which opponents mysteriously fall to the ground after being slashed by a sword, with no blood, no wounds or even shredded clothing to show for their misfortune.

The CGI used by the movie on the other hand is superb. High quality artefacts which blend in well with the live action, this is the one thing that DOA did in fact manage to do right. The movie is shot using very vibrant colours, maybe to capture the feel of a game more. Actually, on that note, this movie does go out of its way to remind one that it is based on the game, which is a nice touch for all the fans of the game series. Filming locations include Bangkok, Guilin, Heng Dian and Hong Kong, and although coming across as feeling quite the dcor used throughout the locations is quite nice to look at.

As much as I lambast this movie as being bad in the whole, the acting wasnt actually all the bad (except for maybe Jaime Pressly who came across a little ham-fisted in places). The ladies all did a great job in the role of femme fatale and apart from the generic big dumb fighters, everyone fitted very naturally in their roles, no matter how irritating they came across as being. Okay, well maybe not everyone. Kevin Nash (the wrestler) was as cheesy in this movie as he is in the world of Profession Wrestling – I like this man, but really, stay away from the big screen! The same applies to Hulk Hogan, but thank goodness he doesnt make an appearance here :)

The soundtrack was upbeat and pushed all the right buttons to get the atmosphere of the scenes across, with nothing sounding too out of place. – That said, nothing stood out either, which fitting the generic feel of this movie perfectly I guess.

The movie is generally light-hearted, attempts to be humorous at times and does feature some spectacular fight scenes, but the lack of solid fighters in the lead roles and an overabundance of fan service and bikini shots destroy any credibility that this movie might have garnered. The very generic plot doesnt stand well in todays film environment and at best, this movie should have been a straight to DVD release.

But hey, we are talking about a fighting game that spawned a follow-up beach volley ball game featuring the lady fighters, so I guess I shouldnt have expected much from this film in the first place. Avoid at all costs unless you are a young teenage boy who wants to see skimpily clad girls beat the crap out of the guys and girls around them – and look good while doing it.

DOA   Dead or Alive 1 DOA   Dead or Alive 2 DOA   Dead or Alive 3

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.