DOA: Dead or Alive

by Alan Rapp on June 19, 2007

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: DOA: Dead or Alive
  • IMDB: link

This movie’s got disaster written all over it.  The acting is average, the plot is ridiculous, and the dialogue will have you laughing and groaning.  But it does have beautiful, and scantily clad, young actresses, some nice sets and attractive scenery, and some pretty good stunts and wire work.  Fans of B-movies, and adolescent teens, might find a film that that can laugh-at and enjoy yourself while doing so.  Is it a good film?  Not really.  Is it a good time?  For the right audience, yes it is.

We’ve seen martial arts tournament flicks many times before.  Hell, Jean-Claude Van Damme made a career off them.  DOA isn’t a great film, in fact in many ways it’s quiet laughable and absurd, but it is an enjoyable experience that knows exactly what it and doesn’t try to be anything more.

Fighters all over the world are sent invitations to DOA, a secret martial arts competition on a hidden island.  The contestants include Tina (Jamie Pressly) a wrestler wanting to prove herself, her father (Kevin Nash, in what is a thinly veiled Hulk Hogan/Brooke Hogan relationship), Christie (Holly Valance) an assassin and thief and her partner Max (Matthew Marsden), Princess Kasumi (Devon Aoki) and her loyal friend Hayate (Collin Chou), and the host and daughter of the founder Helena Douglas (Sarah Carter).

There are also subplots about Kasumi’s missing brother (Kane Kosugi) and an assassin (Natassia Malthe) sent to kill her for leaving her people, a nerd (Steve Howey) with a crush on Helena, and the secret evil plan of the man behind the competition (Eric Roberts).  But hey, you don’t come to a movie like this for plot.  And, thankfully, the film realizes this and keeps the action and titillation in overdrive.

So what do you get, you ask?  Bikinis?  Check.  Lingere?  Check?  Lesbian tease scenes?  Check.  Slow motion?  Check?  Gratuatious butt shots?  Check.  Spontaneous volleyball scene?  Check.  Wet naked woman in a towel?  Check.  Training montage?  Check.  Fantasty scene?  Check.  Computer nerd with a crush?  Check.  Wet t-shirts?  Check.  Evil mastermind with a secret plot?  Check.  Sword fights?  Check.  Martial arts chick fights?  Check.  Highwire stunt work?  Check.

The film has few surprises, other than being more enjoyable than it has any right to be.  The action scenes are mostly well shot, and there’s certainly enough titillation to keep the target audience of young horny boys engaged for it’s 87 minute running time.

I wanted to hate this movie, but I just couldn’t.  I won’t defend it, it’s not very good, but I will say it has an enjoyable quality.  The film understands what it is and doesn’t try to be more than mindless summer entertainment.  In a year with more than a few big-budget letdowns trying too hard to be important, here’s a film that just wants you to enjoy yourself.  Is it plausible?  Hell no, but somehow it finds the right amount of cheesiness and chick fights to be passable, and even, at times, enjoyable.  I can’t quite bring myself to recommend it, but for the right audience, and you know who you are, you may find the guilty pleasure you are looking for.

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