DOA: Dead or Alive (2006) Review

"DOA: Dead or Alive" American Theatrical Poster

"DOA: Dead or Alive" American Theatrical Poster

AKA: DOA, Dead or Alive
Director: Corey Yuen
Writer: J.F. Lawton, Adam Gross, Seth Gross
Cast: Jaime Pressly, Holly Valance, Sarah Carter, Eric Roberts, Devon Aoki, Natassia Malthe, Kane Kosugi, Colin Chou, Robin Shou, Silvio Simac
Running Time: 87 min.

By Ningen

There comes a time in your life when you find out your favorite mainstream director is a hack. For some, that director is James Cameron; for others, it might be Tony Scott; for me, it’d have to be Corey Yuen. I mean, yeah, Wong Jing’s got a spottier record than Yuen, but at least you know his work is crap, and at least he’s got more consistent sense of pacing. Hell, when I find myself preferring the Bride with White Hair sequel to his Fong Sai Yuk sequel, you know he’s underwhelming. But it’s not like he didn’t have potential. For example, Bodyguard from Beijing and My Father is a Hero is some of his best work. Hell, I even have a soft spot for New Legend of Shaolin. But those films would probably not have worked as well without Jet Li. And I’m guessing if The Transporter-which I haven’t seen yet-works for me, it’ll be because of Statham.

But DOA is basically a porn film without any actual penetration or even dry-humping. While the same can be said about the games themselves, at least you can have some fun with them, while the best part of the adaptation is Eric Roberts attempting to deliver his awful lines as the head of a mysterious tournament. As head of the tournament, he invites a female wrestler named Tina Armstrong (Jaime Pressly) who’s trying to prove that her moves-unlike her breasts-aren’t fake, a female ninja named Kasumi (Devon Aoki) who’s trying to find out if her brother Hayate (Colin Chou) is still alive, Kasumi’s protector, Ryu Hayabusa (Kane Kosugi), and a female thief named Christie (Holly Valance) who basically just wants to loot the place. Also in the mix is Tina’s rival/pursuer, Zack (Brian White) and roller-skate announcer Helena and the nerd who loves her.

If there is one positive thing I can say about the flick, it’s that Corey Yuen proves that (chest) size doesn’t matter. He dresses the girls in enough skimpy clothing to make up for the missing silicone from their game counterparts. Hell, he should get a special effects award for making Devon Aoki look doable. Where he fails is focusing more on them strutting around and discussing relationships than fighting. I really don’t care who loves or hates whom, since I can go and catch a chick flick if I wanted to see that crap. Plus the close-ups do get old after a while.

The fights themselves are outlandish, in spite of their semi-decent choreography. They feel like parodies of real moves, partly because the actors aren’t taking them that seriously, and partly because they take place in sets lifted from CTHD, Hero, House of Flying Daggers, and even Ong Bak. That’s not to say there aren’t any good battles. (The ones which are near the end come to mind.) It’s just that they don’t make up for the weak story.

In addition,the more buffed the fighter happens to be, the crappier their acting happens to be, as well. That’s not to say that the main characters don’t have their own b-movie tendencies, but at least they know that they’re in a b-movie. The muscle fighters, on the other hand, seem to believe they’re auditioning for a Final Fight movie, not DOA. In fact, I was seriously tempted to blurt out that Kool-Aid joke from Family Guy in the theater when one of them bursts through a wall.

Still, it could be worse. At least Uwe Boll didn’t direct it this time. And the sets and costumes are more faithfully re-created than the ones from Street Fighter. But if you haven’t downloaded it already like everyone else, you probably should, at best, consider it for a rental. It won’t be great, but it’ll give you a quick fix.

Ningen’s Rating: 8/10 for the T&A, 4/10 for the story and characters, 5/10 total

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