With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013
With Dada Chen at NYAFF 2013

Saturday, April 25, 2009

ACF 282: DOA: Dead or Alive

Ayane (Natassia Malthe) faces off against Princess Kasumi (Devon Aoki)

I'd hoped to see this 2006 release, directed by the great Corey Yuen, at a theater. I'd been a big fan of the video game upon which it was based. The first version, which was for the original PlayStation video game system, had the terrific option of "Bouncing Breasts: On or Off." And the breasts were of Russ Meyer film proportions! I loved subsequent releases through those for the PlayStation 2, and was really upset when the franchise became exclusive to Microsoft's X-Box gaming system (hisssssss).

But DOA 's theatrical run lasted only about a week in New York. (Recently, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li lasted about as long in theaters.) Entertainment Weekly gave it a pretty decent review at the time, but that was the exception. The film has a metascore of 38 out of 100 based on 8 reviews at metacrictic.com, although 28 users gave it an overall rating of 6.3 out of 10. IMDb users are even toughter on it: a rating of 4.9/10 based on 13,424 votes.

All-American wrestler Tina Armstong (Jaime Pressly)
climbs on to her yacht

I finally decided to check it out when J&R had one of their periodic sales on all DVDs. (J&R is the fantastic electronics emporium near where I work in lower Manhattan. You can also order by phone or on the web @ jr.com.) DOA is by no means a great film, but I found it pretty damn entertaining. Although none of the female stars are as opulently endowed as their video game counterparts, they're all great-looking and pull off the requisite martial arts moves quite nicely.

Bass Armstrong (Kevin Nash), Tina's father, is one of her opponents
Dead or Alive is about an invitation-only martial arts competition that brings together the greatest fighters throughout the world. Only the tournament is really being held not to determine who's the best fighter, but to satisfy the nefarious plans of Dr. Victor Donovan (Eric Roberts), the event's organizer.

While there are some male competitors and supporting characters, make no mistake about it, this film is all about the luscious eye-candy provided by the babes. Think of it as "Charlie's Angels Enter the Dragon."
Christie Allen (Holly Valance) has a great move for donning her bra

The DVD is available on the Dimension Extreme label with a first-rate video transfer. Aside from the Theatrical Trailer, the only other extra is an above-average featurette entitled "East Meets West: Behind The Action Of D.O.A."

The babes of D.O.A. square off for some slicin' & dicin'

I enjoyed D.O.A. and found it to be more than decent for an action film based on a fighting video game. Let's face it, video fighting games don't have much of a story line or arc. Hence they've tended to not translate that well into film. It may not be saying a lot, but Dead or Alive has a better than normal story for the sub-genre.

I give it an overall ACF rating of 2.5 out of 4 stars. [For comparison with the ratings I mentioned earlier in this column, my score is roughly equivalent to 7.5 out of 10, or 75 out of 100.] Call it fairly good for what it is. It's absolutely worth a rental. It's also not a bad acquisition for your collection if the material and treatment really interest you. I know I'll be going back to watch it every once in a while.