We’ve talked favorably about “so bad it’s good” game movies here before. Street Fighter (yes, the Jean Claude Van Damme one) gets lots of love in that regard, as does the diabolically hilarious Super Mario Bros.: The Movie. There is another movie that deserves to join these ranks – DOA: Dead Or Alive.
Based on the cheesecake-filled Koei Tecmo fighting series of the same name, DOA is nothing more than cheese, and lots of it. It was directed by the one and only Corey Yuen, and features a cast that includes My Name is Earl’s Jaime Pressly, Devon Aoki, Holly Valance, and, of course, Eric Roberts as the main bad guy.
It Actually Follows the Game?
Unlike the weird movies above, DOA: Dead Or Alive loosely follows the plot of the game. There’s a $10 million tournament, and a number of competitors are lured to a small island to take part. Unfortunately, there are a lot of competitors taking part, including Tina (Pressly), and her dad, Bass (Kevin Nash) who’s simply out to protect her. There are others as well, but some of them, like Lei Fang, are relegated to secondary roles. It’s just for the flow of the movie though.
Let’s be honest, the games don’t exactly have the most vivid storyline. You don’t really see anyone buying the Dead Or Alive games just to learn more about the lore of the characters. You buy games like Dead Or Alive 3 and Dead Or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball for the fun. It’s that kind of thinking that you should bring to the DOA: Dead Or Alive movie because it’s on the same level.
Cheesy? Yes, But Also Fun!
As expected, DOA: Dead Or Alive has all the elements you could expect from a PG-13 related video game movie: Bikini girls fighting? Sure. Hot women? Yep. Over-the-top performances? Roberts alone does that.
In fact, let’s talk about Eric Roberts for a moment. His character is Victor Donovan, a man who has perfected DOATEC technology after taking it from Helena’s deceased father. He plans to use it to dominate, as he proves with a pair of glasses that allow him to anticipate enemies’ moves. That’s right, he uses glasses as a secret weapon to fight back. (That is, if you can tell a body double isn’t being used for most of Roberts’ fight scenes.)
Like we said, it’s cheesy. We can’t reiterate that enough. However, it works, and here’s why.
The Cast and the Director Have Fun With It
Like Street Fighter and Super Mario Bros., DOA: Dead Or Alive isn’t concerned with nuance or seriousness. It has fun with its material, as well as its fights. In fact, the finale between Donovan and the girls is a real banger, even involving a brawl on a ladder floors above safe territory. That’s Yuen territory for you, having fun with the material and not really being concerned about the story.
Like we said, though, it’s different for DOA because of the games it’s based upon. They weren’t serious either, and have fun with their material on an equal level. It’s here that the film gets a leg up over others, even if it wasn’t much of a box office success, it does have a lot going for it. Aside from Roberts cheesing it up, Pressly looks like she’s having a field day as Tina Armstrong. (Yes, she has a bikini scene, chill out.) Valance is a trip as Christie, Nash is hilariously channeling Hulk Hogan as Bass, and there’s also a good turn by Sarah Carter as Helena. It’s a gas. We love Aoki too, though she could’ve used a little more screen time.
Oh, and did we mention that Robin Shou of Mortal Kombat fame shows up at one point? (As a pirate’s chief, but still…)
DOA: Dead Or Alive and Well
Look, DOA: Dead Or Alive isn’t going to wow you like, say, Spider-Man: No Way Home. That said, if you turn your brain off and realize what you’re watching, you’re going to have a hell of a time. It’s a Corey Yuen romp that lives up to his reputation, and then some. Besides, where else are you going to see Eric Roberts win fights with glasses? We need to get a pair for ourselves…
While we’re talking retro vibes, take a look at the classic Spider-Man video game from Neversoft Entertainment!
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