DOA: Dead or Alive
DOA might as well stand for "Dead on Arrival." In fact, every videogame-turned-movie should bear that label, er, disclaimer.
There's no reason to expect much of a plotline when it comes to a videogame-turned-movie, and in that sense DOA: Dead or Alive truly delivers. The journey begins with three women. First we meet Princess Kasumi (Devon Aoki), who lives in the mountains of Japan. She is told that her brother is gone but is warned that if she leaves to look for him, she will become an outcast, aka Shinobi. Nonetheless, she wards off rows of ninjas and literally jumps off an entire mountain range to escape. Next up is Tina (Jaime Pressly), a female wrestler who's sick of the superficiality that apparently goes along with her fame. Tina warns her father (Kevin Nash) to stop trying to coerce her back into the game, but that's before a boatful of thugs try to overtake her luxury yacht in the South China Sea. Tina makes quick work of the amateur thieves. Finally, there's girly girl Christie (Holly Valance), a burgling multitasker who can simultaneously throw on a bra and throw down in a fight. What do these three femme fatales have in common? Their skills have earned them an invite to the all-exclusive DOA tournament, which crowns the world's best martial artist.
Even a dream-team action trio of, say, Angelina Jolie (circa the Tomb Raiders), Uma Thurman (circa the Kill Bills) and Ziyi Zhang (circa Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) couldn't lend credibility to DOA; playing in this movie is simply a losing battle, even if they win the whole damn DOA tournament. At least Pressly, Aoki and Valance (and Sarah Carter, if you count her as the hostess/competitor amongst the lead chicks) look pretty while looking bad. Pressly, it should be said, probably wouldn't have even thought of accepting such a role had she known My Name Is Earl would be such a hit. But here she is, kicking butt while looking freakishly toned, enough to become a gaming-geek goddess. As for her acting, Pressly basically replicates her backwoods Earl sensibilities and makes it work as best she can. Aoki (Sin City), continuing her trend of solid acting in mostly terrible movies, actually looks the most "videogame," while Valance (Pledge This!) makes her sultry fighter hot enough to distract from her ho-hum acting. But it's Eric Roberts--he of approximately half the movies and TV shows made over the last three decades--who adds the occasional funny-bad vibe as DOA's eventual bad guy. Nobody else could've played his role, partly because nobody else would've wanted to.
Oh, videogame movies, when will you learn that crossovers never workespecially in your "genre?'' As sure as Russell Crowe's 30 Odd Foot of Grunts will never make a blip on the Billboard charts and wrestlers will never be able to act, a videogame will never amount to a good movie. At least DOA unapologetically plays out like a videogame: When a fight ends, for example, a "K.O." (knockout) appears on the screen. It is one of the more ludicrous moments ever committed to celluloid, but it's director Corey Yuen's way of staying faithful to the game version as well as his target audience. Having been a longtime choreographeron everything from Lethal Weapon 4 to Transporter 2 and some non-sequels in betweenYuen has the chops to create a great fight scene, but he is clearly not a director. Positively everything outside of the fight sequences is cringe-inducing, for its lameness and insignificance. The fact there is even an attempt to build a storyby no less than four writers, mind youaround what is a very literal translation of a pure fighting videogame is gratuitous in itself. Besides, an hour and a half of mostly fight scenes would've been more appreciated by the bleary-eyed gamer audience anyway.
Hollywood.com rated this film 1 1/2 stars.