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Movie Review

Ninja Princess Kasumi has determined to leave her Japanese mountain stronghold and set out to find her brother Hayate. He's been missing and presumed dead ever since he failed to return from a top-secret, island-based martial arts tournament called DOA: Dead or Alive.

On this mysterious isle she meets a beautiful and buff professional wrestler, Tina, who wants to prove her legitimacy as a real fighter. And the hard-fighting thief/assassin Christie, who may be out to steal what she can't win. The three deadly beauties have been invited to compete in this year's tournament against the best fighters in the world, all battling to gain the coveted $10 million purse.

Little does anyone know that the man in charge of the tournament, Donovan, has something up the sleeve of his dobak that reaches far beyond KO matches between competitors. He implants nanobots in everyone's bloodstreams that record the fighters' moves and techniques. This data is downloaded into a program that will allow him to anticipate any move and win any battle. The three heroines must overcome their personal struggles, work together to find Hayate and defeat the evil Donovan. (Yep, it's that kind of a movie.)

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Positive Elements

Even though leaving means she'll become an outcast from her kingdom and put her life in danger, Kasumi accepts the DOA invitation and vows to bring her brother back alive. Her brother's best friend, Ryu, accepts that danger as well, and sticks by Kasumi's side in an effort to protect her. Tina and Christie really have nothing to gain by helping Kasumi, but they lend a hand, too.

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

While there are a few men who flex their shirtless muscles, it's the girls who get the ogling attention of the camera. And usually it's in high-powered action scenes where the woman in question is wearing next to nothing. For example, Christie steps out of the shower wrapped in a towel and finds several policemen waiting for her. She asks to get dressed and then seductively slips her panties on. The men are positively drooling. Then in a fluid series of slow-motion cutscenes she flips her bra in the air, knocks a gun out of a policeman's hand, uses her towel as a weapon, punches and kicks several other policeman, puts the descending bra in place on her chest, snatches the pistol from the air, and ends up asking the only man standing to snap up the back of her brassiere. As thanks, she clubs him in the face.

Because of creative camera angles, the woman is virtually naked throughout without ever being seen totally nude. In another scene, two women fight in bikinis and T-shirts in a rain storm. Girls compete in a volleyball game that slo-mos in on every jump and twist. Itsy-bitsy bikinis, miniskirts, tiny tops and micro shorts round out the rest of the female cast's wardrobe.

A woman steps out of a bathtub, and we see a nearly full side view of her naked form. Christie and her boyfriend/fellow thief Max kiss on her bed as she strips off her robe; later, it's implied they've had sex and that they're naked in bed together with a sheet covering them. One of the male fighters has his swimming trunks removed in the hot tub and jumps out completely naked. (His anatomy is barely covered by strategically splashing water.)

On several occasions Tina's father stumbles upon her with another girl in what he interprets as a lesbian relationship. Tina: "No. I mean we're not sleeping together we're just ... sleeping." Dad: "Seems to me like my baby girl's found a special friend." Several other couples kiss briefly.

Violent Content

No blood or guts get graphically splattered in this pic, no matter how devastating the blows get. But to list all the violence would take pages. Faces, chests, stomachs, buttocks, legs and ankles are slashed at with swords, beaten with clubs, slapped with bamboo poles, punched, kicked and otherwise pummeled in nearly every scene. Eyes are gouged. Ears are yanked. Crotches crushed. Heads bonked. Director Corey Yuen, who was also a fight choreographer for Jet Li, tries to turn these nonstop brain bashings and body thumpings into a perverse art form via creative camera work and special effects.

Crude or Profane Language

The s-word makes three appearances, along with several uses of the words "h---," "a--" and "b--ch." God's and Jesus' names are both taken in vain.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Christie and Max, among others, drink champagne and/or beer. It appears as if Donovan has a cigarette in his hand in one brief scene.

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

I've been a "gamer" since back before there even was such a thing. And so I've had a chance to play some Dead or Alive video games and watch the series morph over the years from martial arts-focused tournament fighting into something more akin to giggle-and-jiggle bikini volleyball. It's all gotten a little silly, actually. However, the title's blend of violence and titillation must have struck someone in a Hollywood front office as a perfect summer movie formula. What better way to lighten teenage boys' wallets (and the wallets of those who still think like teen boys) of a cool nine bucks?

The resulting 90 minutes of DOA: Dead or Alive is like watching a smoothly choreographed Jackie Chan flick fused with a Girls of Maxim special. Beautiful women, knock-out matches, constant action, bamboo trees and artistically broken bones. DOA wants to pretend, since the central heroes are all women, that it hails from a growing line of so-called female-empowerment films. However, the constant skin parade and bouncing bikini shots throws this claim into question—actually, out the window is more like it. I can't recall a movie that contained such a complete and intimate sexualization of the female form—every muscle ripple from every angle, "clothed" and unclothed—and still kept a PG-13 rating.

In fact, between all the posing and computer-assisted action sequences, there's really little room for anything like acting or a story. Yes, I know, nobody expects this to be great art. It's based on a video game after all. Its violence is comic booky and its concept, umm, broad. But parents and discerning viewers beware: This film is far less like something a teen would play on the family Xbox and far more like something he might hide beneath his mattress.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

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