DOA: Dead or Alive Review
By Joe Lozito
"Alive" and Butt-kicking
Ok, so maybe I'm just a guy, but "DOA: Dead or Alive" may very well be the best butt-kicking-bimbos-in-bikinis movie ever made. Based on the popular videogame, "DOA" doesn't have the style or star power of those disappointing "Charlie's Angels"
movies - and that's precisely what makes it so much more enjoyable. Without any pretense of post-feminist girl power, "DOA" is a pure martial arts jiggle-fest for the "Maxim" crowd. Any notion that the filmmakers are going for high-brow entertainment is TKO'd during one bravura standoff tracking shot angled through the legs of one of the women. This film knows its genre and its audience.
With its sub-Skinemax-level acting and a plot cribbed wholesale from "Enter the Dragon" (the best of the best are brought to a mysterious island fortress to compete in martial arts battles), "DOA" delivers one knockdown drag-out brawl after another featuring women (and a few men) who aren't afraid to kick ass and look hot doing it. And speaking of "Best of the Best", yes that's Eric Roberts as the mysterious Donovan, the man behind the competition.
The power trio at the center of the film are pro-wrestler Tina Armstrong (Jaime Pressly from "My Name is Earl"), Christie (Holly Valance), a glamorous British thief, and Kasumi (Devon Aoki from "Sin City"
), some sort of Japanese Princess and some sort of ninja. Each woman is fiercely independent, of course, and there's a hint of a theme about the importance of working together as a team, but I might be reading too much into it.
It's no surprise that one of the film's producers is Paul W.S. Anderson (he of the "Mortal Kombat", "Resident Evil" films), but veteran martial arts director and Jet Li mainstay Corey Yuen is much more adept at filming action scenes. All three women hold their own in the martial arts category (who knew Jaime Pressly had it in her?), and with Mr. Yuen at the helm, they're in good hands.
"DOA" embraces its videogame roots wholeheartedly, as its competitions are tallied via leader boards located throughout the island. The screenplay (unbelievably attributed to no fewer than three writers: J.F. Lawton, Adam Gross & Seth Gross) gets needlessly complex and completely falls apart at the end, but…hey, look! Another fight! That's pretty much the experience of watching "DOA". I can nearly guarantee, for example, that Quentin Tarantino will love this movie. It's nothing but mindless entertainment, but it gets the job done. No, this isn't a good movie. But for its genre, it doesn't get much better.