DOA: Dead or Alive Review

(SPOILER WARNING – HIKARI INDUSTRIES IS NOT LIABLE FOR ANY SPOILERS THAT MAY BE GLEENED FROM READING THIS REVIEW)

Dead or Alive. The fighting game franchise is one that’s captivated players in the arcades and on 5 consoles (PS1, Dreamcast, PS2, XBox and XBox 360) for years, with it’s arcade style mechanics that cater to both the softcore and hardcore gamer. And really, what’s not to love?

This game’s got it all: The fighting, the girls, the costumes, the jigglies… I’m sorry, I’m getting off track, much like the creators of the Dead or Alive movie when they started working on it. I had the displeasure of seeing it recently, and I’m not going to beat around the bush: This movie was terrible. If you don’t believe me use your l33t skills and get yourself a copy. Hit the jump for my review:

There is absolutely NOTHING good to say about this movie, other than the girls are cute, which is a given. The plot (HAHAHAHAHA! Oh, I crack myself up…) revolves around Victor Donovan (Eric Roberts), whom you might know from DOA as the guy responsible for such things as Project Epsilon, and Alpha 152, and his plan to study the greatest fighters in the world. The fighters are gathered on an island to an invitation only tournament (of which, the invitations are sent out via high-tech homing shurikens that find you no matter where you are in the world). During the process we’re introduced to the various fighters as they receive their invites.

After injecting the unwitting warriors with nanobots during physical exams, he then plans on extracting the data gathered during their battles with a giant, room sized machine (which just happens to have a cleared off area perfectly suited for a fighting arena inside) with a big red laser into a pair of sunglasses that give the wearer the accumulated experience and skill of those fighters, as well as precognitive abilities.

Yes. You read that right.
No. I’m not making that up. Oh, how I wish to God I was.

Really, none of this matters, because the movie is too incoherent, too jerky, and too quick to make any sense. The editing is sloppy at best, with several points in the movie where the scene changes so suddenly, its hard to see where the first scene ended and the next began. The worst instance of this is a flash back with Kasumi (Devon Aoki), Hayate, and Hayabusa (Who is referered to ONLY as Hayabusa; not Ryu, not Ryu Hayabusa…just Hayabusa), that suddenly jumps from the past to the present.

The colorful characters of the games have been bastardized here, making them uninspired and uninteresting, with each and every person being boiled down to a mere stereotype of who they are in the game. The only exception here is Helena, who is so far removed from her character in the games to the point where one could almost mistake her for Nikki, Zack’s side kick from DOAX and his DOA4 ending. Helena in the games is a tortured opera singer who’s lost both her parents, and wants nothing more than revenge for the murder of her mother, and to erase DOATEC from existence. In the movie, she’s a happy, bouncy, skater girl who just wants to flirt and make out with the obligatory computer geek (because every movie like this needs a computer geek, right?).

Which brings us to the matter of the love interests. That’s right. They managed to shoehorn a love interest in for every girl except Tina (Jamie Presley), who’s hounded by the horn dog Zack through the entire movie (though it should’ve been Helena he was all over). Two of these love interests don’t even exist within the game’s continuity, while the half-sibling relationship Ayane has with Kasumi and Hayate is completely erased, just so they can shove Ayane and Hayate together, and pair off Kasumi and Hayabusa.

Oh, and let us not forget about the wasted characters, such as Lei-Fang, Gen Fu, and Brad Wong. Many of the DOA fighters appear in the movie, and if they were lucky, they were there for more than 10 seconds. Gen Fu, and several others only show up long enough to get their butts kicked in short, unexciting fights, that look like they were ripped straight out of an episode of Dragonball at best, or really bad looney tunes short at worse.

Other characters, such as Bayman and Leon, are portrayed as mindless brutes with no purpose other than to be made fools off. As for the girls, most of them are here, with the only ones completely left out being Hitomi and Kokoro. And yes, in case you wondering, their are plenty of gratuitous bikini and “kinda-almost” nude shots (you see someone topless from the back or behind a fuzzy screen that keeps you from actually seeing anything) It’s almost as if they were trying to tease you with just enough nudity to keep it around PG13 …

… Okay, so there’s maybe ONE good thing about the movie, but that’s it! 

The soundtrack is horrible, loaded with fast past techno, and faux Japanese music that sounds like it was ripped straight out of a Saturday Morning Kung-Fu Theater. There’s not a bit of decent acting in the movie, with characters like Kasumi being almost entirely numb and unaffected, or the overly exaggerated Zack, who is pretty crazy in the games, but is just a straight up jerk in the movie. The only possible exception here lies in Holly Valance who plays Christie: the sexy, but deadly, assassin. Her performance nails Christie, even if the writing blows her a little out of proportion. The only thing missing is her fighting style. 

Oh, yes. That reminds me. Everyone one seems to use the same “Generic Movie Fighting Style Cocktail No. 3.” There’s a time when you’ll actually see Kasumi go into a snake stance ala Christie from the games. You’ll see Tina the wrestler use rather nice karate, very reminiscent of Hitomi from DOA3 and 4.

Casting wise, they did an okay job. While some of the characters don’t look exactly like who they’re supposed to be, the costumes are over top as they are with trying to turn everyone into a living anime character, and as for the girls? Yes, some of them are a little small chested compared to their in-game counterparts, but, you must realize that it would be very hard for them to find  real women whose bouncing bosoms could stack up to the DOA girls. Unless they hired all pornstars … which probably would’ve improved some of the acting.

How movies that reach this level of suckage ever make it past pre-production on concept alone is a mystery to me, but it happens, and unfortunately, DOA: Dead Or Alive is going to be unleashed on an unsuspecting public. This is movie is not just a failure as game based movie, it’s a failure on every possible level. As a gamer, and as a movie goer, I urge you; PLEASE! Do not go see this movie in theaters. Do not give the studio a reason to make a sequel. Simply let this one die quietly, so that the DOA franchise and the DOA community, might get to keep at least a little bit of dignity.

DOA: Dead Or Alive gets 1 High tech homing shuriken out of 5.

teksuo