CATEGORIES Action, Comedy, Theatrical Reviews, New in Theaters, The Weinstein Co., Games and Game Movies, Features, Reviews, Cinematical
Hoo boy. You'd have to search really far and pretty wide to find an action movie as unapologetically stupid as DOA: Dead or Alive. Then again, when a movie aspires to be nothing more than an unofficial Charlie's Angels sequel, it's best not to walk in expecting Merchant Ivory ... or even Michael Bay. But after sitting through the plotless, mindless and broadly colorful piece of brain candy known as DOA: Dead or Alive, I came to the conclusion that the flick is so stupid it makes Charlie's Angels and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle look like The Godfather and The Godfather Part 2 by comparison. And that's a whole lotta stupid.
The plot can be summed up in three simple words: Hot chicks fight. That's it: Very attractive women (none of whom could fight off a pushy butterfly in real life) are gathered together for a super-secret mega-battle tournament known as "Dead or Alive" -- which is kinda weird considering the flick's rated PG-13 and for all its comic book style violence, very few characters actually die. Come to think of it, the combatants are so skilled and so powerful I suspect they could beat up Zeus, Rocky and Superman without breaking a sweat. Not bad for a quartet of cuties who'd look more at home at a swanky pool party than soaring through a series of goofy fight scenes.
Our one-note heroines are Tina the Hayseed (Jaime Pressly), Kasumi the Princess (Devon Aoki), Christie the Blonde Hottie (Holly Valance) and Helena the ... Other Blonde Hottie (Sarah Carter). Each of them has a vague motivation for participating in the DOA event, but suffice to say the filmmakers aren't all that worried about taxing your brain with character development or finely-crafted plot structures. We're just here to see all the ultra-funky battle stuff that made the Dead or Alive video game series such a hot seller -- and I'd be lying if I said the movie version skimps on the mayhem. Indeed if you're looking for clever dialogue, strong acting or a cohesive plot, you're sniffing in the wrong direction.
If, however, you have a soft spot for dumb cinema, and the idea of watching sexy babes flip around on invisible wires while pretending to knock the holy hell out of some massive brute ... DOA is your movie. That's not to say I'm calling this a GOOD movie, but as any astute movie fan knows: There's "fun bad" and there's "bad bad." DOA falls firmly into the former pile, stocked as it is with wall-to-wall chin kicks, supremely outlandish stuntwork, a bevy of hot babes who approach the material with tongue in cheek (not to mention bod in bikini). Fans of random plot points will be pleased to learn that our heroines must also contend with a long-lost brother, a blue-haired assassin, an ultra-jiggly volleyball match, one nerdly love interest, and an evil Eric Roberts in a Michael Landon wig.
Director Corey Yuen (all of a sudden his Transporter flick feels like a documentary) seems well aware of the live-action cartoon he's working on, and his flick never once apologizes for being simplistic and empty-headed escapism. Plus DOA stands as a testament to the magic of CGI technology: Not only will you be able to enjoy the heart-fluttering spectacle of Jaime Pressly beating the snot out of a gigantic hulk, but c'mon: How often will you get the chance to see Eric Roberts participate in a big-time martial arts blowout against four sexy fashion models? Never, that's how often. Unless you love bad movies and you opt to devote 83 minutes to the audio/visual Happy Meal that is DOA: Dead or Alive.
I'm just saying it's OK to enjoy a bad movie every once in a while. And I've no problem getting behind this one. When DOA slows down and tries to fling dialogue at the screen, it's almost painful. Fortunately the talky bits are very few and far between. There's tons of things wrong with this movie, basically, but it's also a tough little flick to dislike. Call it the Guilty Pleasure of the year for me. Hell, it's a heck of a lot more entertaining than Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.