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"DOA: Dead or Alive"

Directed by Corey Yuen.
Written by J.F. Lawton, Adam Gross and Seth Gross.
Starring Devon Aoki, Jaime Pressly, Holly Valance and Sarah Carter.
Release Year:  2007
Review Date:  6/18/07


Hello there, Hard have you been?

I have wanted to see "DOA: Dead or Alive" for quite a while now, although when I heard the film was completed but being bumped from fall of '06 here in the US to spring '07 to summer '07, it didn't take a fucking genius to see that "DOA" must be some pretty bad stuff, otherwise it would have already seen the light of day, or even, you know, a trailer in a freakin' movie theater.

But, no--as it is, "DOA" is some of the worst fucking shit of the year.  Based on the second-most famous Tecmo game of all time (I'm guessing you have heard of the first even if you don't play video games), "DOA" takes a similar format to the games--it's fighting at the highest level, as random fighters from around the world compete to take home a $10 million prize and prove themselves as the greatest fighter in the world.  This year's combatants include the mysterious Kasumi (Devon Aoki, from "2 Fast 2 Furious"), who is searching for her missing brother; tournament rookie Helena (Sarah Carter); international thief Christie (Holly Valance), who is in the tournament for glory AND to skip out on a diamond heist charge; Tina (Jaime Pressly), a wrestler who has a chip on her shoulder as a pro wrestler who is trying to show the world that her skills are legit.

There are other fighters in the movie, but all of them are reduced to "Minor Character" status quickly, because we are told to not care about them.  That, and this script absolutely fucking blows.

Director Corey Yuen is famous for his work in China; here, he hasn't been as lucky, although he did direct "The Transporter", which was generally considered a hit even if it wasn't all that good.  In directing "DOA" he has taken such a step backwards that you almost can't believe this was allowed to ever be shown in theaters; the fighting mostly sucks, the acting is atrocious (of course, casting Eric Roberts as your bad guy kind of makes this a no-brainer), the special effects look incredibly cheap at times, the lines aren't funny, and the tie-in between game and movie is tough to see at times; there is no real bad guy in the game except for whoever it is you are fighting at the time, so by only giving us about a third of a movie that is fighting, you are left with a fucking TON of downtime, not so smart for a film based on a fighting game.

Sure, there's plenty of T&A here, and this stays true to the game, which is one of the reasons why kids loved it the world over.  (By "kids", I mean anyone over the age of 11.)  But, in a PG-13 film, you know you are only gonna get a tease, so mixing that with some bad-ass fight scenes would have been good...except, there are no badass fight scenes.  Fighting styles are never explained, the fight scenes aren't nearly movie-epic enough given that this is supposed to be a stage for the best fighters in the world...even some of the game's best characters are made out to be patsies in this movie, none more so than Ryu Hayabusa (Kane Kosugi), who is ridiculously good in the game but a relative pushover in the movie.

The movie even tries a romantic angle late in the action, with Helena going after a nerdy lab tech.  Fuck, "DOA" was bad...and, the worst thing?  I didn't even mind when a group of three teens sitting in the middle of the theater started blatantly and loudly laughing at the dialogue every few minutes.  Please don't see this movie!

Rating:  Hard Vice


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09