D.O.A. Dead or Alive

Valance shows quite a lot of screen charisma – she could go far in Hollywood if she doesn’t attach herself to too many trashy B-grade action flicks like this one


Holly Valance, Jaime Pressly, Devon Aoki, Eric Roberts, Sarah Carter

Hot chicks doing kung fu. Any questions?

A candy-coloured action extravaganza for those audiences who found the “Charlie’s Angels” movies too intellectually taxing, “D.O.A. Dead or Alive” is silly, skimpy fun that serves up a righteous ‘girl power’ message by making the majority of its butt-kicking warriors women.

Of course, it manages to have it both ways by ensuring that its feminine fighters are all immaculately made-up and styled, not to mention clad in skin-tight outfits that leave little to the imagination.

So there’s no denying that the movie looks great. But while the lights are on, there really is nobody home as far as “D.O.A”. is concerned.

Based on a video game, the plot is simplicity itself. Every year, a martial-arts tournament is held on a secluded island, with the victor taking home a $10 million prize.

Only the best of the best are invited to take part, and this year’s crop includes pro wrestler Tina (“My Name is Earl”’s Jaime Pressly), master thief Christie (Australia’s Holly Valance) and Japanese princess Kasumi (Devon Aoki, last seen slicing and dicing with a samurai sword in “Sin City”).

Kasumi’s not interested in the money, though. Unable to believe her brother died during the last D.O.A. tournament, she’s going undercover to find out the truth. And she gradually recruits her opponents into uncovering the terrible secret of the tournament’s ringmaster, Donovan (Eric Roberts, hamming it up nicely).

As is often the case with movies of this kind, the story’s simply there to give the audience a chance to catch its breath between fight scenes. So pay little attention to all that, and just remember that “D.O.A”. features very shapely people in very revealing clothing kicking the tripe out of each other.

Still, there’s not that much enjoyment to be had during those scenes either. Everything is in this movie is so stylised and digitally enhanced it’s hard to tell if the people fighting one another are even in the same room.

It’s all very nicely choreographed and energetically staged but there’s very little oomph to the scenes of combat. Plus not really giving a damn about any of the characters – due to a combination of threadbare scripting and lacklustre performances – doesn’t help matters either.

That said, Pressly is a funny and likeable presence, giving a bit of wit and spice to her white-trash warrior. And Valance shows quite a lot of screen charisma – she could go far in Hollywood if she doesn’t attach herself to too many trashy B-grade action flicks like this one.

Rating :
Reviewer : Guy Davis