DOA: Dead Or Alive

DOA: Dead Or Alive


Reviewed by: Sam Moore

Video game movies. They're so rarely a good idea it seems. Dead or Alive (DOA) might benefit from the fact that few people seem to know it is a video game movie. The DOA franchise is a somewhat successful beat 'em up series most famous perhaps for the realistically modelled breasts of the female characters therein. Outside of the gamer crowd, however, DOA is likely to be considered a standalone venture, which is actually a bad thing. People don't expect that much from video game movies. You see, as a video game movie DOA is pretty much average. As a 'normal' movie held to 'normal' standards, this is possibly the worst film I've seen in years.

The plot, such as it is, goes like this: a tournament is being held on a remote island by mysterious recluse Donovan (played by Eric Roberts) who invites the best fighters in the world to compete for a $10m prize. Each of the main fighters has their own reason for being there: retired wrestler Tina (Jamie Pressly) wants to shrug off her cheesy past and be taken seriously; master thief Christie (Holly Valance) just wants the money and anything else of value Donovan may have in his island vaults; and exiled Japanese princess Kasumi (Devon Aoki) is looking for her older brother, who went to the tournament the previous year and never returned. In between matches, the ladies form a strong bond and investigate the strange island, eventually figuring out Donovan's master plan. It's all a ruse to gather data on the best fighting styles in the world, for a nefarious purpose which I won't ruin but you can probably see coming.

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The standard of acting in this film is downright abysmal. When one of your main characters is played by a soap actress turned failed pop starlet, I suppose you can't really expect much. Eric Roberts is corny and cringeworthy as the bad guy, while Aoki is painfully wooden. She was better off in Sin City where she didn't have to say anything. Interestingly the best acting to be had here comes from Jamie Pressly (My Name Is Earl, Not Another Teen Movie) who does a decent job with what was she's been given. She has also gotten into excellent shape for the role, and is probably the only female character whom you believe could actually kick some ass. Speaking of which, the fight scenes in DOA are passable but nothing special. If you're a fan of decent fight movies - perhaps you're familiar with the influx of Asian martial arts films these days - you'll likely scoff at DOA and complain about the copious use of CGI and camera shake to make up for the lack of mass behind the impacts. However, if you're more used to Western fights, this is run of the mill really. The most interesting combat seems to involve Tina, most likely because Pressly's gymnastics background lowers the number of occasions where stunt doubles and camera trickery are required.

So, the script is terrible. The acting is terrible. The soundtrack is entirely unremarkable (a few remixes of tracks from the games are in there, but this is meaningless unless you've played them). The camera work is somewhat interesting if you've played the video games (quite a few angles and effects are lifted straight from the game series) but is generally mundane. Furthermore there are plot holes here so large you could park a bus in them. My favourite is when ninja bodyguard Hayabusa (Kane Kosugi) goes snooping around the island and is attacked by wave after wave of indistinct hired goons. If you've invited the very best warriors in the world to your secret island, should you really encourage your hired goons to attack one of them hand to hand in a nice single file fashion? I don't think a single bad guy thought to bring a gun to the island.

To summarise, this movie is a video game translation through and through. And sadly it's not one of those rare ones that actually works. If you ever saw the Streetfighter movie (1994) you'll understand just how woeful Dead or Alive is. It's basically Streetfighter with better looking women and more of them. In fact beyond the eye candy I can't see a single reason why anyone should watch this film. Give it a miss.

Reviewed on: 13 Sep 2006
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Beautiful women beating each other up in a video game spin-off.
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Director: Corey Yuen

Writer: J.F. Lawton, Adam Gross

Starring: Jaime Pressly, Holly Valance, Sarah Carter, Natassia Malthe, Devon Aoki, Eric Roberts

Year: 2006

Runtime: 87 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Germany, UK


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