June 21, 2007

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DOA: Dead Or Alive (PG-13)
The dilemma? The guy who has enough money for either the latest Playboy production or the direct-to-DVD action movie but not enough to buy both. The solution? DOA: Dead Or Alive, a movie where fights scenes and structurally dubious clothing more or less obliterate any need for plot.

And, hey, you’re in luck, guy with Skinemax-meets-WWE desires. Though DOA just opened, it will likely make it to the discount bin at Best Buy in a matter of months.

Tina (Jamie Pressly) is one of a two of butt-kicking gals introduced as they are being attacked by multiple goons while wearing only a bikini or some fabric-challenged wardrobe equivalent. Naturally, wrestler Tina and thief/assassin Christie (Holly Valance) are more than match for these easily disposed of foes and both girls get a ninja-throwing-star-like invitation to DOA. Once on the DOA plane, they and martial arts warrior princess Kasumi (Devon Aoki) learn that DOA is a contest a sort of playoff of hand-to-hand combat with the contestants final-four-ing it until there is an ultimate DOA winner who gets money and, er, the title of Top Chef or something.

Once the gang reaches the island, they are fitted with watch-like things that tell them when it’s time to fight but otherwise get to vacate in a lovely Pacific island paradise. (Paradise except that Kasumi is being chased by an assassin because of something about dishonor and she’s trying to solve the death of her brother but, really, why tax yourself with subplots?)

Despite the title, the DOA contest doesn’t actually involve killing opponents, it’s more like Slightly Winded Or Alive. The real peril in the story comes from an evil genius (Donovan, played by Eric Roberts) obsessed with becoming an indestructible warrior via some drugstore sunglasses. There are a variety of fighting styles demonstrated with a varying levels of skill and believability — sword fighting, wrestling, the big-guy-crushing-stuff form of martial arts. There are a variety of bikini tops offering a varying levels of less than believable support. There is dialogue on par with the “exposition” scenes of cable porn. Jamie Pressly sails through her performance with that Daisy Dukes trashiness she’s honed on My Name is Earl and she is by far the closest thing to a thespian in this crowd.

DOA: Dead Or Alive is, in short, complete crap, utterly devoid of redeeming value. And yet, so are those nachos with the screaming orange cheese product that are at times irresistibly tempting at the concession stand. Sometimes a person needs complete nonsense with fighting — DOA: Dead Or Alive gleefully meets those needs. D+

Rated PG-13 for pervasive martial arts and action violence, some sexuality and nudity. Directed by Corey Yuen and written by J.F. Lawton, Adam Gross and Seth Gross, DOA: Dead Or Alive is an hour and 27 minutes long and is distributed in wide-ish release by Dimension Films.