DOA 1950's posterI initially became aware of the film DOA in the trailers for Crank. This was somewhat ironic as Crank owes an awful lot to another film called DOA with this terrific poster (and its remake, DOA directed by the people who brought us Max Headroom). But DOA in that case stood for Dead On Arrival. In this instance DOA is short for Dead Or Alive, and is based on a series of console fighting games. The fighting games are notable within the genre for pushing the female combatants into centre stage, with one assumes such realistic jiggling breast action that there was also a spin-off beach volleyball version of the game. Apparently the makers of the DOA seem to think that there may be some crossover in the audience for computer games and softcore pornography.

I’d like to see that research. Yeah right.
None of this explains
a) Why DOA the film was made
b) why I went to see it.

Okay, it might explain a). And the name Paul WS Anderson in the production credits completely explains it. Luckily he got a much better director in Cory Yuen, of The Transporter, which explains b). A bit. That and the fact that the genre of film adaptation of beat-’em-up games is a genre which up until now I had complete knowledge of. And DOA does not vary from the usual plot of those games. There is a tournament, which has a hidden agenda and we get to follow a few characters trying to win the tournament and solve the problem. And lets be fair, this plot is essentially the plot of Enter The Dragon, which pre-dates and pretty much inspired all beat-’em up games.

So we are introduced in three small vignettes to our three protagonists, all surprisingly attractive and bruise free young ladies. And their own little story and their own sub-plots which bring along a bit of extra baggage. And then they go off to the island for the tournament : these films always take place on secretive private islands to avoid, one assumes, laws against killing people in fights. Though this is a bit of a misnomer as whilst the film is called Dead Or Alive, and the rules allow killing, no-one actually dies – at least until the end. Because at the end they have to meet the bad guy. Played by Eric Roberts: the king of straight to video bad guys.

So let us bypass the main meat and potatoes of the film, if only to note that Cory Yuen is the master of using special effects to make people who have no extensive knowledge of martial arts (say Holly Valance) look like a deadly fighting machines. And also note its faithfulness to the beach volleyball history of the game. Instead I want to treat you to the ending, which marks the film out as being fantastically unusual, and one sided. Now final battles often seem one sided, as the hero often has to surmount pretty insurmountable odds to win. Its a dramatic arc kind of thing. DOA is almost the complete opposite. And not just because Eric Roberts is an old bloke who would be easy to best in a scrap.

The Girls Of DOA in a fight that doesn't happen  in DOA

The Most One Sided Movie Battle In Screen History

On the one side we have our three heroines: Tina, Christie and Kasumi. There is also Kasumi’s estranged boyfriend Hayabusa – completing the semi-finalists of the DOA tournament. They are locked up whilst Eric Roberts, donning a pair of pretty nineties sunglasses, downloads all their fighting skills into his bonce. Still, if you consider the odds, would you take one man with skills of the four best fighters in the world (and a pair of sunglasses) over the four best fighters in the world. You would think that four against one would win the day.

But hold, this fight is not one sided enough. To test if the sunglasses are any good, we have Hayate – Kasumi’s brother and winner of the previous tournament, to test him out. Of course the four good fighters are still locked up, so it is kind of just one-on-one. However, luckily next door is Helena (a defeated quarter finalist) and her computer geek boyfriend, who have recently defeated sixteen ninjas. The computer geek boyfriend may be rubbish in a fight but has worked out that he can free the four locked up fighters, and hit people with pipes (my kind of fighter). So seven against one: and it is starting to look bad for Eric. But the good guys really need to be sure. So just as well Christie’s partner in crime Max is knocking around trying to rob the place. And just in case that is not enough, Hayate’s ex-girlfriend, the purple haired ninja bird who has up until now been trying to kill Kasumi, has decided to join in.

So count them. NINE AGAINST ONE. AND HE LOSES ALL HIS FIGHTING SKILLS WHEN YOU KNOCK OFF HIS SUNGLASSES. Frankly, all that considered, the good guys make a bit of a meal of it.

Oh, and the scene above? Five women with samurai swords taking on four hundred ninja warriors. Neither resolved or explained. But don’t the girls look pretty!