a critiQal film review DOA: Dead or Alive (2006)

Plot: Four voluptuous girls, each with unique fighting styles, are invited to partake in the "Dead or Alive" world fighting tournament on an exotic island.

Reviewed
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DOA: Dead or Alive. Unlike it’s predecessor, Mortal Kombat (1995), I never played this video game series, so had no idea what to expect. From the previews (of both the games and the movies), I figured it was just girls in bikinis doing a bit of fighting – kind of the female version of Mortal Kombat. But, how would the movie turn out?

Mortal Kombat translated decently into a big-screen version with Mortal Kombat (1995), thanks to the filmmakers being able to flesh out the video game characters enough to make them worth watching, so I knew it could be done. I’ve also seen the sequel, however, and Mortal Kombat: Annihilation turned that promising start into a fiasco, by combining too many other characters (without much screen time) and a plot that made the first one seem Einstein-ian…so I knew they could really screw this up too.

So, thinking that Mortal Kombat (1995) would be the best the video-fighting game translation, I decided to wait for the DVD to check out DOA: Dead Or Alive. But would the rental (available exclusively from Blockbuster®) be worth it, or would I scream for my money back before the movie was even half over?

With the director of DOA: Dead or Alive best known for his stunt choreography, most knew that the acting wouldn’t be high on the list of must-haves for the film…making it the perfect film for actors trying to make the transition from small screen (TV) to big-screen (film). Of the few who hopped on board, Jaime Pressly (“My Name Is Earl” (TV)) is the most recognizable. She does a decent job of keeping up with the other actors (not hard, as the acting isn’t the main concern of the film – as mentioned above), and her character bears enough hints of resemblance to her “My Name Is Earl” (TV) character she won’t drive away any of her TV fans. Steve Howey, best known for his role as Van in “Reba” (TV), also puts in an appearance, and like Jaime, doesn’t stray far from his TV character – doing the movie a favor by tossing in a bit of his situational comedy.

The others are mostly unrecognizable, the only other exception being Donovan, played by Eric Roberts, who seems to be bored for most of DOA: Dead or Alive – but this turns around in a hurry when he’s suddenly the center of attention. Once that happens, his acting gets better, and he seems almost gleeful about the screen time. The others, mostly up-and-comers just starting out in the biz, look to be starring in the film just to add credits to their acting resume, rather than a real desire to be in the film.

Obviously, famed stunt choreographer-turned director Corey Yuen is all about the stunts – and it shows in his directorial debut, DOA: Dead or Alive. With stylish action scenes a-plenty, this is one video-game turned movie that isn’t lacking in action. And, showing his prowess as a stunt choreographer, he introduces us to new sequences and situations…these aren’t the same-old same-old action shots that we’ve seen time and time again. Sure, they have the usual (slo-mo, etc.), but the camera angles and new situations (early in the film, Holly Valance’s character fights off the FBI while getting dressed) make them anything but dull and boring.

Unfortunately, the plot seems to be a direct rip-off from Mortal Kombat (1995)…you’ve got the brother that has been killed, the championship fighting tournament on a mysterious island, etc…the only difference being this time all of the main action stars are female. That’s pretty much the only difference. Sadly, while Mortal Kombat (1995) was able to make the film a decent stand-alone action flick, Corey Yuen’s DOA: Dead or Alive looks to be ripped straight from the video game…complete with introductory screens for each character. In fact, some of the fighting sequences are watched on video screens – and it’s hard to tell if it’s game shots or actual actors.

So, what makes DOA: Dead or Alive different than it’s predecessor, Mortal Kombat (1995)? Aside from interesting action sequences at the beginning of the film, the only thing that makes this one stand-out is that it’s stars look good in 2-piece bikinis. That’s pretty much it.

This would be a decent kickoff to a video-game-movie video night. Start off with DOA: Dead or Alive and follow that up with Mortal Kombat (1995) and Resident Evil (2002). That way, you’ll get the bikinis to keep the crowd’s interest at first, and gradually work your way up the ladder in terms of film decency.

If you aren’t planning a marathon of that nature, the best time to rent this film would be a Friday night out with the boys. Sit back, turn your brain off, and enjoy the view.

1 Comment

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