If you enjoy 3D fighting games, you have probably played one of the Dead or Alive games before. A version of the game has appeared in most major gaming consoles since the Sega Saturn. The series is known for good graphics, an intuitive countering system…and bouncing breasts. Yes, Dead or Alive is the game where the female characters breast’s bounce up and down for the duration of the game.
In its own right, it is actually a decent fighting game and one that fans of Tekken and Virtua Fighter would enjoy. However, it will always be remembered as the game with sexy girls. Some of the cut scenes in the game are borderline pornographic, with characters wearing nothing but skimpy bikinis or lingerie.
I’ve never understood how people can get turned on by cartoon graphics, perhaps because my childhood was full of 8-bit graphics. It’s hard to get excited about princess peach in 48 colours.
Over the last twenty years, Hollywood has made a habit of converting popular video games into films. In 2006 it was Dead or Alive’s turn to get the Hollywood treatment. The movie is officially known as “DOA: Dead or Alive“. Like most 3D fighting games, the plot is about a tournament where the best fighters from around the world are invited to fight in a tournament.
Whilst many male characters from the game are in the film, the film focuses mainly on the female characters of the game. The three main stars were Jaime Pressly (Joy from My Name Is Earl), Holly Valance (Singer & Soap Star) and Devon Aoki (2 Fast 2 Furious & Sin City). All three of these girls get a “Charlie Angels” inspired introduction at the start of the film that tries to show you who they are. It’s very cheesy (did I say very cheesy…I meant to say very very cheesy!).
When it comes to sex appeal, the film follows the lead of its video game counterpart. Throughout the film you will see gratuitous shots of legs, ass and breasts. It was clearly developed for the teen market. The whole thing feels like one long MTV promotion.
The film was produced by Paul W. S. Anderson, the fantastic British director who directed Soldier, Event Horizon, The Three Musketeers and Alien vs. Predator. He is also a veteran of video game movies, bringing games such as Mortal Kombat and Resident Evil to the big screen. Unfortunately, his backing of the film did not stop it from being a complete failure.
The film also has a terrible plot, awful acting and horrendous fighting scenes. I can sit and watch pretty much any film with martial arts films, including obscure Chinese kung fu films from the 1970’s with no subtitles….but I struggled with Dead or Alive. It really is terrible. Even the frequent shots of beautiful women could not stop me from cringing every five minutes.
It is hard to criticise a martial arts film for having a bad plot. They all have bad plots. And it is difficult to criticise bad acting. It’s not like Tony Jaa is ever going to win an academy award.
When it comes to martial arts films, bad acting and a poor plot line are forgivable. For me, bad fight scenes are not. The problem partly lies with the stars of the film. The women all seem pretty flexible…but that does not mean they know how to kick or punch. The director of the film clearly knows this as he sought to hide the fact the stars of the film are nothing more than glorified gymnasts who can stick their leg up high.
A lot of the minor characters in the film are legitimate martial artists. When they are fighting, the camera zooms back and lets you see what is going on. Not so when the ladies are fighting. Their fight scenes are cut into pieces to disguise the fact they suck. For example, rather than show you them doing a spinning kick, they will show you them turning round quickly. Then the film will cut to a close up of some random foot hitting someone’s face. It is frustrating to watch.
I found the wire work in the film bad too. I don’t mind wire work if it’s done well. Jet Li used a lot of wire work in his earlier films, but it didn’t make you cringe. In Dead or Alive, it looks like the stars are being dragged around by the wires rather than being aided by them.
The one shining light in the film for me was the appearance of Colin Chou. You may know him as Seraph in the second and third Matrix films and bad guy in The Forbidden Kingdom, however martial arts enthusiasts may remember him better for his amazing fight scene with Donnie Yen in Flash Point. Unfortunately, even Mr. Chou could not save this film. Even though he is an accomplished martial artist, his final fight scene was just as poor as everyone else’s due to the wire work and poor camera angles.
Most reviews were negative. From a budget of $21 million USD, the film made only $7.5 million back. I imagine the film is popular amongst teen males, though for everyone else this is a film you should give a miss.