DOA: Dead or Alive
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Corey Yuen
scr JF Lawton, Adam Gross, Seth Gross
with Jaime Pressly, Holly Valance, Devon Aoki, Sarah Carter, Eric Roberts, Kane Kosugi, Steve Howey, Matthew Marsden, Natassia Malthe, Collin Chou, Kevin Nash, Brian J White
release UK 15.Sep.06,
US 15.Jun.07
06/Germany Universal 1h26

Take that: Don't mess with these women

pressly valance aoki

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DOA: Dead or Alive Lively and shamelessly silly, this videogame adaptation is Charlie's Angels as a Saturday afternoon TV series: action-packed but profoundly cheesy.

Donovan (Roberts) is bringing the world's greatest fighters to an isolated island for his annual Dead or Alive competition. But this year's contenders are all distracted: Tina (Pressley) is embarrassed to be fighting against her pro-wrestler dad (Nash). Christie (Valance) is working with another competitor (Marsden) to rob Donovan and DOA heiress Helena (Carter). And Kasumi (Aoki) is looking for her missing brother (Chou) while keeping an eye on her brother's best friend (Kosugi) and a devious assassin (Malthe). Meanwhile, Donovan's clearly up to something nefarious.

Director Yuen (The Transporter) indulges in his trademark frenetic mayhem, with fights in every conceivable setting--mile-long stairway, perilous scaffolding, bamboo rafts, Asian temples. And he also contrives to keep his starlets wearing as little as possible, even resorting to a bikinis-at-dawn beach volleyball interlude. Teen boys and dirty old men will love this, while everyone else will have to make due with the constant stream of nutty humour and knowingly contrived action.

The cast is fine, injecting attitude into their roles even as it gets increasingly ridiculous. The four central women are clearly enjoying their tough-girl roles, which keeps us laughing along with them. And it's rather nice to see the men in the thankless roles for a change. But the film is all tease: a bundle of implied sex and violence without any actual nudity or gore. Although with all this innuendo and brutality we're sure we must've seen something.

Virtually every scene features extensive wire work and cheap-looking digital tweaking. But Yuen gleefully distracts us from these things by resorting to constant close-ups of the girls' toned bodies, with slow motion, freeze frames and split screens to make sure we miss nothing. The plot is preposterously stupid, especially the big mystery-conspiracy that underlies the battle competition. But it's clear that the screenwriters aren't taking this seriously, especially in the handful of witty romantic subplots. Yes, this is a genuinely terrible film. But it's also good fun.

cert 15 themes, violence, language, innuendo 4.Sep.06

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... DOA: Dead or Alive jon, arizona: 4/5 "well I cant say that the film is horrible because it actually isn't. the clever fight scenes always distract you from the floppy plotline, and with the main charecters being women, they must not wear anything.Or virtually nothing, but the actors such as pressley are great. the film is indeed pleasing,and if you love the game youll probally leave happy." (13.Jun.07)
2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall