Archive for the ‘Fighting game film and television’ Category

DOA: Dead or Alive (the movie)

July 25, 2008
DOA movie poster

DOA movie poster

The first time I watched DOA I had downloaded a torrent of it and watched it. It was bad. Not as bad as the Street Fighter movie, but it was bad. When I was in Augusta last week I bought a copy of DOA for 7 bucks so I could show my friends. Jud and I watched it one night and then another night Nathan and I watched it while we played Advanced wars (we didn’t really pay attention to the movie). In any case, I’m ready to talk about this movie in detail now. I’m going to spoil the movie, in case you really really wanted to see it and be surprised or something.

Ryu Hayabusa???

Ryu Hayabusa???

I’d like to begin by listing the few things I believe this movie actually did right. First of all, it did follow a few key elements of the Dead or Alive games (which is more than I can say for the Street Fighter film). First off, Kasumi leaves her village to find out what happened to her brother. However, there is something wrong with the way it is in the movie, because her village is now a palace and she is a princess. Also, instead of sneaking out in the night, she makes a huge elaborate escape involving a large number of palace guards and Ayane. Still, they did use the plot point that she escapes from the village.

Second off, Donovan is involved in the story and he did have Bayman murder Fame Douglas. I’m amazed that they actually got this right. Of course, Bayman is treated more like an accomplice of Donovan and not just an assassin, and Donovan never attempts to have Bayman assassinated.

The movie even shows a scene where Ayane is sent by a guy who I assume is Genra to go and assassinate Kasumi, since she is now a traitor.

Another thing that was done right is that they throw in a volleyball scene in reference to DOA Xtreme Beach Volleyball. It’s a nice reference to the fact that they made a couple of side-games with the characters.

Also, some of the fight scenes are decent.

Ayane threatens to kill Kasumi if she leaves

Ayane threatens to kill Kasumi if she leaves

That doesn’t sound so bad, right? They followed some key points of the game at least, right? True, but the amount of things that are just completely wrong and out of character far outweigh the few good things about the movie.

So as the movie begins we see a palace, which is completely wrong. In the games, the Mugen Tenshin ninjas reside in a small village, not some huge palace. We see Kasumi sitting on a throne. Now, Kasumi should be young and pretty. I can understand not using someone with Kasumi’s actual age (she’s only 17 in DoA4), but they still should have someone attractive. Now, Devon Aoki is in good shape, but her face bothers me. Some people would disagree with me, but there is something about it that isn’t attractive. I think it’s her nose. And her chin. Also, she has Japanese, German, and English in her. They could easily have found a full Japanese girl to portray Kasumi. In any case, we’re stuck with Devon for the duration of the film.

Soon after we first see Kasumi, she is approached by a guy trying to convince her that her brother is dead and she shouldn’t leave the village. He also claims to be Hayate’s best friend. Wait a minute, this guy is Ryu Hayabusa from Ninja Gaiden? Why is he in Kasumi’s village/palace dressed like he belongs there? He’s not a member of their clan. Anyway, Ryu turns out to be decent later, but his characterization is a little whiny when it shouldn’t be at all. Kasumi is determined to leave.

As she begins to head into the middle of the guards, she is confronted by Ayane (who doesn’t even look asian, but at least has purple hair that doesn’t look bad), who tells her she will have to hunt her down if she leaves. Kasumi also tells Ayane she’s going to look for Hayate and that she knows Ayane loves her brother (for those who’ve read the other blogs, in the games, Ayane is the half-sister of Kasumi and Hayate. They all have the same mother). Ayane also tells her if she leaves she’ll be a Shinobi (which Hayabusa also told her), but this is wrong. She’s already a Shinobi, because it’s another word for ninja. This word is misused in the film to mean a runaway ninja, when there is actually a word that could be used to mean that (nukenin). After an elaborate fight/escape, Kasumi jumps over the palace walls, and apparently the palace is at the top of a huge mountain. Kasumi removes her robe and has been wearing a hanglider thing underneath that she uses to glide away. It IS as ridiculous as it sounds. She then receives a shuriken invite to participate in DOA.

DOA poster of Tina

DOA poster of Tina

Next we are introduced to Tina on her yacht. Tina is portrayed by Jaime Pressley, and it’s one of the only roles in the film that was well cast and is actually portrayed well. Anyway, she talks to her dad, Bass, on the phone and then some asian pirates show up on another boat and Tina beats them up. She then receives her invite to DOA.

Christie

Christie

Christie is introduced next. Holly Valance makes a decent Christie. However, she is characterized more as a thief, even though they say she is an assassin (it’s never shown at all in the film, though, and she’s never a thief in the games). Also her personality in the film is much too cheerful and she is too nice to the other girls. By the end she is even friends with them all, even Helena (when in the games, she is the assassin who killed Helena’s mother). She also doesn’t use her correct fighting style in the movie. She escapes from some cops at a casino and her partner Max (who is totally made up for this film. I have nothing against the actor, Matthew Marsden, since he was the sniper in Rambo and it was awesome) watches her escape. She receives her DOA invite as she escapes.

So after being introduced to these three females who are going to hold the focus of the film, we see all the characters on a plane flying to the island where DOA is to take place. There is an island owned by Zack used in the Xtreme games, but the fighting games don’t take place on an island. Still, this isn’t too bad. On the plane, we see several characters who we won’t see much of, but who look the part, like Lei Fang and Gen Fu. Unfortunately, Gen Fu’s hair and facial hair look rather fake, when I think it could have been done better. Lei Fang should be more attractive, but it doesn’t matter as she won’t even be on screen for a total of 5 min.

While on the plane, everyone sees a video where Helena welcomes them and tells them they have to jump from the plane and parachute down. Oh, and Helena is rollerblading around and looks like a California teenager. She has no hint of a French accent (it is referenced that she got a tattoo in Paris, but there is no hint that she is French). She also isn’t an opera singer. She is completely out of character, with the exception that during her first fight she appears to actually use her fighting style from the games.

Once they are all on the island, they have a time limit to reach a certain point, but the movie only follows Kasumi, Tina, and Christie’s journey there. They decide that they have to work together (which leads to Christie’s first uncharacteristic moment) and they make it to the top of this tower they are climbing. Kasumi almost falls and sees Ayane and knows she has been followed. This whole scene includes ridiculous wire work that was unnecessary to use, and I now wish they wouldn’t use wire work in martial arts films anymore. Anyway, everyone makes it.

Tina in a costume nearly accurate to the games

Tina in a costume nearly accurate to the games

Next everyone gets a physical, which includes being injected with nanobots that track their fighting abilities. They are all given bracelets that show them who their next opponent is supposed to be, and they can fight them anywhere. Some nerdy character, Weatherby, is introduced (portrayed by
Steve Howey, who also plays Reba’s son-in-law on Reba) who is in charge of the computers and has a crush on Helena. He works for Donovan, and worked for Fame Douglas before that. Like Max, he was made up for this movie.

The fights begin, with a number of the characters being eliminated (Eliot, who isn’t the British fighter he should be, in fact, I think it’s a girl in the movie. Brad Wong, who’s hair in the film looks horrible and we never see him drink. Lei Fang and Jann Lee both get eliminated in the first round, and we hardly see any of Jann Lee, and none of his Bruce Lee moves, etc.). The only minor film character that makes it past round one is Gen Fu, and we never see his second round fight. Both Bayman and Leon also pass round one, but they are both used as villains. During the first round, Ryu Hayabusa wears an outfit very similar to the one from the new Ninja Gaiden games, but he doesn’t ever wear a ninja hood or mask in the film, unfortunately. He’d have actually looked the part if he did. He later just wears a blue ninja outfit (again, no hood or mask), so we don’t see this one again.

There is a special plot in the film for Christie and Max, where Max (who somehow got invited in to DOA and passed the first round by faking an injury) tells Christie he’s there to rob the place, and that Helena is the key (she has a tattoo with the clue to the vault and the passcode to get in to it). Christie and Max work together in this, and they are also shown to be romantically involved.

After a flashback that shows Hayate (who looks close to the character) save Kasumi and get invited to DOA, Kasumi asks Donovan about her brother, who had entered DOA the previous year. Donovan tells her that Leon killed her brother in the tournament. Donovan sets things up for her to face Leon next in the tournament. Kasumi wins. Interestingly, they actually break through walls and stuff, which references the games well. However, Kasumi wears pants with her most recognized costume. This is odd, because in the volleyball scene later, she does wear a bikini, so I don’t know why this choice was made.

Kasumi vs. Leon

Kasumi vs. Leon

This fight scene also had some ridiculous wire work. They could at least make it not look completely fake.

Tina and her father fight after this scene. Kevin Nash is decent as Bass, but the over-protective characterization isn’t as present as it should be. Tina wins the fight.

Bass vs. Tina

Bass vs. Tina

There is a volleyball scene, as I mentioned. Helena and Christie play against Tina and Kasumi. During this scene Ryu goes to investigate and has some cool fight scenes against guards. Then he gets captured. Ayane pops the volleyball with a shuriken when the score is tied and Kasumi goes to fight her. They fight in this bamboo forest but the fight is interrupted by Tina and Christie, and Ayane escapes.

Also during the party/volleyball scene, Weatherby approaches Helena and they talk, leading to the eventual forced relationship between these characters. Despite how much I hate the fact that they ruined Helena’s character in the film, the actress in the role is attractive. I wonder if she could have portrayed Helena properly if the script had been done correctly.

Helena poster

Helena poster

After this Tina and Zack are supposed to fight, and they decide to wait until after the party (which is why there was a volleyball break). It’s a decent fight scene, and Tina wins. Zack had been hitting on her up to this point until she embarrassed him at the hot tub (during Kasumi and Leon’s fight), and then he’d been insulting her. After the fight he tells her that he thinks she’ll win.

Tina vs. Zack

Tina vs. Zack

I do have to say that Zack is characterized well in this film, and the actor looks the part, so it was good to see that got him mostly right. I do think he should have been a little less serious, as he is in the games.

The last tournament fight in the film is between Christie and Helena. Christie wins and discovers the tattoo (and memorizes it) to get into the vault. She passes on the info to Max.

Christie vs. Helena

Christie vs. Helena

This leaves Hayabusa (who is missing), Kasumi, Tina, and Christie left in the tournament. Kasumi goes to find Hayabusa and Tina and Christie insist on coming. This scene also reveals that Kasumi has some feelings for Hayabusa, which irritates me. Mainly because in my mind the only relationship with Ryu involved is with Irene Lew from the original Ninja Gaiden games. However, as you’ll see, all the main characters are in relationships by the end of the film, except Tina.

Anyway, the girls all get captured and Donovan reveals his plan to download their fighting abilities and sell them for a high price to buyers. At the same time Weatherby has revealed the truth to Helena (that Donovan had her dad killed and about downloading fighters abilities) and Helena has to fight off guards after Donovan sends them to kill Weatherby and Helena.

Donovan releases Hayate who he’s kept in good fighting shape to show off the downloaded abilities to the buyers. Hayate has been shaved and no longer looks like Hayate, which sucks. He also uses some crazy fighting style that Hayate has never used as Hayate or as Ein. After he beats Hayate, Hayate is thrown off the tower to be saved by Ayane, and they share a passionate incestuous kiss. Donovan starts the download to the buyers.

Weatherby stops the download of the program to the buyers after he and Helena escape. He also works on freeing Kasumi and the others. Donovan comes to stop Weatherby and fights Helena, but Helena loses, even though her abilities weren’t downloaded. Weatherby is knocked out, but frees Kasumi, Tina, Christie, and Ryu before passing out. Donovan starts a countdown to destroy the complex.

Max was in the vault and Bayman stops him (there was an earlier scene with a match between Bayman and Max where Max wins through stupid luck and the scene is retarded so I don’t even want to talk about it). Hayabusa begins to fight Bayman while the girls all fight Donovan, who is super-powered with their fighting skills. He loses his sunglasses (yes, sunglasses) that he had downloaded their skills in to. Kasumi sticks a needle in his neck that freezes him in place and everyone dives out simultaneously and in the same fashion in a ridiculous climatic scene. The place explodes, killing Donovan and most likely Bayman who was left inside.

The pirates that ran into Tina earlier show up and Tina takes over their boat, picking up everyone in the ocean. They all ride back together, Weatherby matched with Helena, Max with Christie, Haybusa with Kasumi, and Hayate with Ayane (which is disgusting for anyone familiar with the characters in the games). Tina is alone. There is then one final scene of all the girls at Kasumi’s palace about to fight all the guards, and it’s absolutely stupid.

The movie has a LOT of faults, but there are a few things that they did get right. It’s not the worst film I’ve ever seen, but as a fan of Dead or Alive, it’s insulting. I honestly believe that with the same budget I could write, cast, and direct a better Dead or Alive movie. I’d focus it just on the story of the first game which would mean less characters and more minor characters getting more screen time. I also wouldn’t add ridiculous subplots, like stealing from DOATEC, which would mean more time for fighting and more time for the story of the games. In any case, it could have been worse. It could have been the Street Fighter movie.