– Summary –
Director : Corey Yuen
Cast : Jamie Pressly, Holly Valance, Sarah Carter, Devon Aoki, Eric Roberts, Collin Chou, Steve Howey, Song Lin, Fang Liu, Hung Lin, Kane Hosugi, Matthew Marsden, Natassia Malthe, Kevin Nash, Robin Shou, Silvio Simac, Brian J White.
Year Of Release : 2006
Length : 83 Minutes
Synopsis: A collection of the worlds best fighters come together for a tournament to win $10m, only to uncover a dark, and deadly, secret that they must unite to fight.
Review : Blindingly stupid video-game film, with almost no redeeming cultural value save for exploiting the looks of Pressley and Valance, and bloating the oeuvre of Aoki to bursting, DOA is cinema quality of the lowest, most teenage-hormone-activating level, that’s utterly entertaining simply because it’s so stupid.
Imagine a world where beautiful people fought for prize money and glory, and then imagine that the majority of those people fighting were hot models and women with less martial arts skill than Stephen Hawking. That’s DOA: Dead Or Alive in a nutshell, and a pretty thin nutshell it is. It’s hard to quantify this film without resorting to explaining the minuscule plot (and little thing termed “character development”) that simply defies conventional explanation. Put simply, take three super-hot women, give them superbly choreographed (and utterly contrived) wire-fu martial arts abilities, and stick them in a Mortal Kombat-styled action film where acting ability never gets in the way of a good fight sequence.
Tina Armstrong (Pressly), a former pro-wrestler who desires to be taken seriously by the fighting fraternity, is invited to the DOA competition alongside her wrestler father, with the two almost certainly destined to come up against each other. Aoki plays Princess Kasumi, an outcast in search of her brother, who was supposedly killed during a bout at the DOA tournament the previous year. And Holly Valance plays a master thief and assassin (seriously, she’s no assassin here, she’s too hot!) Christie, who attends the competition to steal the prize money. And master actor (not) Eric Roberts (Julia’s brother, no less) plays the man in charge of the DOA competition, who turns out to be hiding a sinister secret.
Look, the film is shot like a rock concert, or hyper kinetic episode of Baywatch, there’s so much bare flesh to be seen on screen here, it’s almost embarrassing to watch. In the true sense of exploitation films, the cast seem to give this thing a lot more credence and effort than it’s actually worth, especially Devon Aoki, who has a lot more character development than anybody else. Pressly, whose body looks particularly toned, gives her all as the twang-voiced wrestler (who moves more like a kick-boxer) but she cannot overcome the fact that the film is all about her breasts and her bum. Same goes for Valance, and all-smiles Sarah Carter, as Helena, the heir to the DOA concept. They’re there for no other reason than to look good.
Corey Yuen, who directed the original Transporter film, makes good use of his superbly toned and impossibly good looking cast by allowing the camera to linger over their sweaty, moist bodies with almost perverse abandon. There’s a shot, during a beachside battle between two of the girls, where the camera slips around behind one of them and the full widescreen image is taken up by the girls bum, and between her legs can be seen her opponent in razor sharp definition. It’s almost, I say again, almost, pornographic. This film is definitely one for the boys.
Nope, there’s no such thing as restraint or subtlety here, but then, this is a film based upon a successful video game, and thus, you have the game’s blokey style thrust upon you visually here in the cinematic medium. While I cannot claim to be familiar with DOA as a game, the film in itself is either a collectively stupid, waste of time, or a magnificent testament to the power of sex appeal to sell copies of it on DVD. The film bombed big time theatrically, only scraping in a little over $6million at the box office. No doubt on DVD it will succeed a little more, as teenage boys across the world get their grubby little mitts on this piece of stylish fluff. You know what I mean.
DOA: Dead Or Alive is barely cohesive as a narrative, and rambles along with second rate scripting and dodgy special effects (which range from adequate to really bad) and if you’ve any respect for women as people, you’ll probably find yourself annoyed for even getting to the fifteen minute mark of this diabolically sexist movie. For most red-blooded males, though, the thought of seeing some scantily clad hotties beating the tar out of each other in varied locations on a tropical island, is perhaps as close to nirvana on earth as they’ll get. For them, this film will be a screaming success.
Now, as to whether the rating for this film should be based upon the carefree, Michael Bay-styled abandon with which this film borders on narcissism, or the fact that it’s still an enjoyably silly romp through some inane acting and wonderfully stylish wire-fu fighting, I’ve tended to go with a little of both. Women across the globe will probably want to pummel me to a pulp for saying so, but regardless of the bright, stupid colours and fascination with women’s boobs on display here with DOA, the film still makes you smile. Therefore, for simple, unassuming and uncomplicated entertainment (for the brainlessness of it all) I give this film a high rating simply for making it enjoyable to watch women beat each other up.