Doa: Dead Or Alive

2006, Movie, PG-13, 87 mins


Yet another movie based on a popular video game, this high-kicking, ass-whuppin' girl-power smackdown has more in common with the jiggly doll-squad flicks of the late Andy Sidaris (HARD TICKET TO HAWAII, PICASSO TRIGGER) than RESIDENT EVIL or HOUSE OF THE DEAD. Substitute dumb jokes and digitized action for Sidaris' trademark bullets, boobs and blood, and you've got this silly, mildly diverting action adventure.

From Japan's Ishikari Mountains to the South China Sea, mysterious invitations are received by three athletically inclined women: Tina Armstrong (Jaime Pressly), a PBR-swilling, pro-wrestling superstar who craves something real outside the fakery of the ring; Christie Allen (Holly Valance), a daring assassin/cat burglar with a none-too-trustworthy partner-in-crime, Max (Matthew Marsden); and Kasumi (Devon Aoki), a strong-willed Japanese princess who recently left home determined to uncover the mystery behind the disappearance of her brother, Hayate (Collin Chou). Tina, Christie and Kasumi are just three of the combatants invited to compete in DOA, the world's greatest martial-arts competition, held each year on a remote desert island. The tournament was established 21 years earlier by the late — and very wealthy — father of first-time competitor Helena Douglas (Sarah Carter), but is now run by shady Donovan (Eric Roberts) and his geeky sidekick, Weatherby (Steve Howey). Each combatant is the best in his or her particular style of fighting, and DOA contestants are not given the opportunity to prove themselves against the world's greatest fighters, but they could go home with the $10-million prize. The combatants are flown in on a private jet but must bail out before they actually reach land; after swimming to shore, they must reach DOA headquarters or be disqualified. Working together, Kasumi, Tina and Christie make it in time, and after being injected with nanobots designed to track their physical strength, each is fitted with a beeping bracelet that will announce the start of each fight, and who her next opponent will be. Matches can occur any place and at any time, which means players must always be prepared to fight; winners move on to the next round, losers are sent packing. Reputations and money aren't all that's at stake: Our heroic trio have their own problems as well. Max is pressuring Christie to help him steal a $100-million fortune hidden in a vault somewhere on the island, Tina must face the prospect of competing against her own father, and Bass (former WWF champ Kevin Nash) and Kasumi must face the vengeful Ayane (Natassia Malthe), Hayate's murderous, purple-wigged lover.

Directed by Hong Kong action veteran Corey Yuen, this is silly stuff that doesn't get too mired in the kind of inconsequential backstory that usual drags down video-game adaptations. That's not to say adults will find any of it interesting: The action has more to do with digital effects than true martial artistry, and is targeted squarely at adolescent boys too young to rent porn and gamers too lazy to yank their own joysticks. leave a comment --Ken Fox

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