Sunday, November 04, 2007
If MAXIM had produced ENTER THE DRAGON using futuristic CGI, this ridiculous PG-13 action movie might have resulted. With noted Hong Kong action director Corey Yuen, who made the marvelous SO CLOSE, putting sexy American girls in skimpy clothing through some skillfully choreographed kung fu paces, it seems as though DOA: DEAD OR ALIVE couldn’t miss. And it doesn’t for the most part, at least for what it is, which is a brainless action flick based on a video game. However, I prefer my martial arts without CGI, which throws the action too far over the top into Cartoonland for my tastes.
Pro wrestler Tina (Jaime Pressly, an Emmy winner for MY NAME IS EARL), Japanese princess Kasumi (Devon Aoki, 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS), master thief Christie (Holly Valance, PRISON BREAK) and Helena (Sarah Carter, SHARK), whose father invented the tournament, are summoned to the private island of Dr. Donovan (badass Eric Roberts, sporting some incredibly thick hair) to participate in DOA—a round-robin winner-take-all martial-arts tournament. In between bouts, which Donovan announces at random intervals, Christie and her lover Max (Matthew Marsden) plot to steal the $10 million prize money for themselves, while Kasumi searches for her missing brother, who was presumed killed during last year’s tournament. Meanwhile, Donovan (obviously, since Eric Roberts plays him) engineers his devilish plan to hijack the best fighters’ kung fu skills and beam them into his body—sort of like taking their “quickening,” I suppose.
It’s fast, it’s loud, and it features a lot of very hot women fighting in bikinis. That makes DOA about as close to critic-proof as a movie can get, and you probably already know if it’s something you want to see. I wish the film had gone much farther. It’s all tease and empty style without any kind of edge. The plot is kinda crazy, but not all that crazy, and a more audacious approach and actresses willing to do nudity probably would have resulted in a better movie—think SWITCHBLADE SISTERS or INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS. Dimension barely dumped it into U.S. theaters, long after it had already played in foreign markets, but I don’t know why they were so down on it. Its premise and slick marketing should have been able to draw an audience.