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Overall Rating

Awesome: 3.45%
Worth A Look: 24.14%
Pretty Bad: 24.14%
Total Crap: 6.9%

4 reviews, 5 user ratings

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DOA: Dead or Alive
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by Jay Seaver

"Delivers the goods."
3 stars

I had to take two buses from one end of the line to the other to get to a theater that was playing "DOA: Dead or Alive" on its opening weekend, and I cannot honestly say that it merits that kind of effort on my part. The flip side, though, is that it doesn't deserve that kind of exile from its distributor, either.

This isn't a lost masterpiece by any means. Its story is giggle-worthy. The good (or at least decent) actors coast while the bad ones try too hard. It's adapted from a video game and fully embraces that aesthetic - it's frantic and insubstantial. Complaining about this movie's plot, though, is like dismissing a root beer float for not having the properties of a fine wine. The important question is whether or not it's a good root beer float.

It's not the best; to torture the metaphor, it's not made with premium ice cream (the type that has little bits of vanilla bean) suspended in homemade, small-batch root beer. Still, it provides a nice sugar rush. Every moment serves to move things along faster, right down to the scene transitions inspired in equal parts by video games and TV sports. The characters all have a distinctive look that lets the audience pull them out of the crowd, and they live in fun, colorful environments. And give the filmmakers some credit where story is concerned - there is one, it makes a certain amount of rudimentary sense within the confines of this cartoonish world (sci-fi silliness about injected nanomachines recording a person's fighting style), and the film never really stops dead for exposition. And director Corey Yuen can put together a fight scene.

Of course, it's a lot easier to shoot a good fight scene when you've got people who do that for a living on camera, which is a luxury he often doesn't have. Several of the women in his cast have gymnastics and dance backgrounds, so they're passably athletic and probably don't need much as much doubling as you might expect, but a number of fight scenes wind up kind of choppy as he cuts furiously to cover any shortcomings. Despite the ladies being front and center most of the time, the best action scene is a ninja fighting his way through a few dozen guards while the villain is distracted by a game of volleyball; the camera pulls back and lets Kane Kosugi go to work.

The stuff between the fight scenes is more fun than in a lot of martial arts films because even the bad actor seem to have good chemistry. Steve Howey, for instance, is kind of bland as the basically decent tech guy whose invention is being perverted, but he's got a kind of dorky charm when paired with Sarah Carter and Eric Roberts. Roberts can smarm his way through a movie like this on autopilot. Sarah Carter doesn't look like she belongs in a fighting tournament at all, but she can turn on the charm. Devon Aoki and Holly Valance come off pretty well, too. The real surprise for me was how much I liked Kevin Nash and Jaime Pressley as father-and-daughter pro wrestlers. The dry humor he gets to work with suits Nash, and I don't think I've ever liked Pressley this much in anything. She just seems much more relaxed in this physical role than usual.

"DOA: Dead or Alive" isn't a great popcorn movie; it never really IMPRESSES the audience like a genuine Hong Kong fightin' flick does. Still, it brings a smile or two and goes down easy; I don't regret taking the time to find it.

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originally posted: 06/20/07 10:56:39
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User Comments

9/11/07 Grayfoxx id give a 5 if they all showed their tits. 4 stars
7/17/07 Alexander Should have been more exploitive, adult fun. You know, gore and titties and stuff. 1 stars
6/25/07 Blood Red Roy If you have male hormones you will love this cheezy goodness 5 stars
6/17/07 Blizz Yeah, pretty awful... 2 stars
6/15/07 DonnyM This Guy Gave it 4 Stars? Shouldnt review for this site... 1 stars
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  15-Jun-2007 (PG-13)



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