I went into this film knowing its reputation, hell the posters and DVD/Blu-Ray covers show you what the main “draw” of the film was, but man… it’s pretty awful. I mean by the time this film was released, DOA the game series’ reputation was breast jiggling physics and a volley ball game spin-off, so in reality this film probably did the franchise more justice than a lot of these adaptations, but it was so hard to get through due to the sheer amount of cringe. Let’s get it out of the way and never talk about it again, shall we?
A group of martial arts and combat masters are invited to a fighting contest, “Dead or Alive”, on an isolated island within an advanced complex, with the ultimate prize of $10 million. Among the competitors are Kasumi, a shinobi ninja-princess looking for her brother Hayate, Tina, a professional wrestler setting out to prove she has more potential, and Christie, a master thief and assassin…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
*sigh* … I mean, yeah. It’s game-accurate, I guess!
I, er… Well, I guess… ummm… No, I honestly can’t think of anything. It’s extremely rare because I’m normally more forgiving than most, but…. No, I just didn’t enjoy any part of this film…
I mean, maybe I could praise them for having characters from the game mostly look quite a bit like them, and at one point there’s a volleyball scene on a beach, which is in keeping with the DOA series… Is that a good thing though?
Looks like a great action scene, right? Nope…
Jeez, where to start? I guess the worst thing was the in-your-face tits and arse-ness of it all. So many shots of admittedly very attractive women in bikinis (or less!) complete with slow panoramic shots or straight full-on close-ups… it made me genuinely embarrassed to watch it. I’ve watched things where female character’s arse is zoomed in on when crouching or a shot of a woman soaking wet stepping out of a pool in a bikini, but it’s never been this blatant or constant… It’s the anime “art” of fanservice cranked up to 100 but in live action.
Now, I knew it would be like that going in based on its reputation and cover, but I was hoping there would be good fight scenes in between that could get me through it, but NOPE. A lot of the fight scenes are incredibly bland or feature an over-reliance on wirework and slowmotion that they weren’t enjoyable at all. To make matters worse, a lot of the time they add weird stock sound effects to the fighting, including whipping sounds, jet flyby sounds and gun reloading sounds over the kicks and punches… Just to make extra sure I don’t take any of the action seriously.
Eric Roberts uses his magic sunglasses to fight women. There’s your one sentence synopsis!
Plot I hear you say? Barely. Kasumi (Devon Aoki) is searching for her brother and we get a few “dramatic” flashbacks featuring them, which were so… SO out of place within this film, and Dr. Victor Donovan (Eric Roberts), the man who has arranged this tournament, is using nanobots to collect the fight data of every participant in the tournament so he can sell a computer system that could then “download” and give people these skills. He uses it on himself but makes the mistake of putting them into a pair of sunglasses, so when they high-tec nanobot assisted sunglasses are knocked off in the final fight he becomes powerless and gets killed as everyone jumps out of his exploding base in slow motion (obviously). While the thought of Eric Roberts playing a sunglasses-wearing villain who is stealing things for himself is a fun throwback to the Doctor Who TV Movie, it was laughably bad.
Frankly “laughably bad” is the only laugh you’ll get too. The acting is that kind of bad where it’s not B-movie bad, just not enjoyable, and some of the jokes… yikes. Tina Armstrong (Jaime Pressly) is one of the central fighters, and several times she shares a bed with another woman or has a moment with another woman that looks barely sexual if you’re really… stupid, and her dad Bass (Kevin “Diesel” Nash, one of my childhood and teenage wrestling favourites), who is also a fighter, keeps spotting her during this and having “funny” reactions to them… Lesbians! WAY-HEY…. *sigh* It doesn’t get better from there, I don’t even want to mention the slow-motion bra-and-gun shot. Yeah, that’s put an image in your head, it’s probably worse than what you just pictured.
Poor acting, poor fighting and endless and obnoxious fanservice. This was a real struggle to get through…
Ha! I’ve ended with a picture of a man! Screw you, horny kids!
I’ve reviewed quite a few of these game-to-film movies now, but I think this is up there with the very worst. At least some had a bit of low-budget charm or were funny to point and laugh at, but this was just so cringey, so … aimed at horny 13-year-olds and so devoid of any well shot or acted moment that I just grew more and more fed up. I can’t recommend avoiding DOA: Dead or Alive enough, it was never released on Blu-Ray here in the UK, nor is it on a digital platform, so I brought the DVD for 50p and still feel like I got ripped off! DO NOT WATCH.