DOA: Dead Or Alive (PG-13)
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So, this is based on a series of video games I've never played, but of which I was vaguely aware. The movie, like the games, has a ton of kick-ass fighting, but exists chiefly to display the hotness of various female characters. (Oh, and of course the girls play beach volleyball, at one point.) However, the plot is actually better than you might expect.
There's a princess named Kasumi (played by Devon Aoki, the main reason I wanted to see the movie). She's supposed to lead her ninja clan, but she'd rather leave to investigate the disappearance of her older brother, Hayate, who left a year ago and never returned. Apparently leaving their clan means they become rogues- shinobi- and must therefore be killed. So when Kasumi leaves to look for Hayate (who is supposedly dead), she is pursued by an assassin named Ayane, who was in love with Hayate. But as soon as Kasumi leaves her clan, she receives an invitation to join a fighting tournament called "Dead or Alive," or "DOA." Which is apparently the same tournament her brother was invited to attend a year earlier. Kasumi is also followed by her brother's best friend, Hayabusa, who wants her to return to the clan in the hopes that she can escape her death sentence. (It also seems like the two of them may have romantic feelings for each other, but this isn't really pursued by the film.) Anyway, Hayabusa is also invited to join the DOA tournament.
Then there's a professional wrestler named Tina Armstrong, who has quit her job because of course, pro wrestling is fake, and she wants to prove she's a real fighter. Her father, also a pro wrestler, also joins the tournament. And there's a master thief and assassin named Christie, who is also invited to join the tournament. Then there's a guy named Max, Christie's lover and partner in crime, who joins the tournament even though he's not really a fighter. Kasumi, Tina, and Christie are the three main characters in the movie, though there are lots of other people who are important. The host of the tournament is Dr. Victor Donovan (Eric Roberts). And the contestants are welcomed by Helena Douglas, the daughter of the late Fame Douglas, who founded the tournament (but died a year ago). Helena also competes in the tournament. And there's a computer genius named Weatherby, who has a crush on Helena. He works for Donovan, though he's unhappy about the way Donovan is using his technology. There are lots of other fighters in the tournament, but the only one of much importance to the story is a guy named Zack, who's constantly hitting on Tina, to her dismay.
Anyway... all the contestants are supposed to represent the best of their respective fighting disciplines, but it's never made particularly clear what styles each person represents, and it's safe to assume there's more than one person for each style, considering Tina and her father were both wrestlers... although none of the fighting they do resembles either real or professional wrestling. Pretty much all the fighters in the tournament seem to me to display mixed martial arts or kick-boxing or... whatever, I dunno. I couldn't make out any specific styles of fighting, but it was all awesome, so I guess it doesn't matter much. Meanwhile, Max and Christie want to find and rob a hidden vault containing not just the $10 million prize for whoever wins the tournament, but $100 million. And of course Kasumi is looking for Hayate, who she doesn't believe is really dead. And eventually we learn about the secret ulterior motives of Donovan, which ties together the mystery of what really happened to Hayate, and the reason Helena's father died, and Weatherby's work, and... I guess why the vault has so much more than the prize money in it. Maybe. I don't want to spoil any details. But um... yeah, it was a fairly fun movie. Not great, but not bad, either. And it so easily could have been bad.
Oh yeah, and I kinda want to say there were moments when Tina sorta reminded me of Applejack from My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. And that's a good thing.