Dead or AliveIntro

Taking a look at one of the more entertaining, but not necessarily good, video game to movie adaptations.

The Story

Based on a video game, the film is all about fighters from all over the world being invited by a mysterious doctor to a private island where they will fight in full contact fights and the final winner takes home $10 million in prize money. The film opens up by introducing us to some of these contestants: Kasumi, a Japanese ninja princess who joins the tournament because her brother disappeared in it a year earlier. Hayabusha, her brother’s best friend. An ex pro wrestler named Tina and her father. Rounding out the introductions would be the granddaughter of the founder of the tournament, Helena and a thief and assassin named Christie.

After a couple of days of hard fighting though, the girls stumble upon a secret that wasn’t meant to be uncovered and find themselves not only fighting for the prize money but also for their lives.

The Good And The Bad

Going into this movie, I knew that it was based on the fighting game ‘Dead or Alive’ but since I’m not a fan of that video game franchise, I didn’t have a lot of bias to go on when I put the film in. I didn’t walk in with great expectations but more I just expected a lot fight scenes, flashy special effects and a loose story and I was not disappointed on any of those counts.

It is impossible to talk about a movie that is based on a fighting game and not talk about the fight scenes at some point and so let’s get this out of the way right now. From moment one, this film makes absolutely zero excuses for itself in terms of what it is going to sell itself to you on. One of the very first scenes in the film is an absolutely incredible fight scene in Japan which introduces Kasumi and the next two fights that introduce Tina and Christie are some of the best that I’ve seen in a very long time. Purists might get a little annoyed at the quite heavy and obvious use of CG effects to push the fights up a notch but it was obvious that this was only done to spark up the constant shout outs to the video game.

The visual effects in this movie are where it started to lose what credibility it had started with. The special effects in the fight scenes really add to the film and really take the fights in a direction that they could never go otherwise. Other scenes though found themselves drowning in either special effects that really didn’t need to be there or absolutely screamed of cheesiness.

A prime example of not needing to be there would be during scenes in which the fights are being watched from the lab and on the screen there is health meters and during the first round of the tournament, the winners also had their own KO screen. I can’t note on how similar they are to the KO screens of the game but I’m willing to bet that if they were willing to go so far as to insert health meters, they at least paid attention to the KO poses.

The story for this film is loose at best and laughable at worst but I chose to take a nice middle ground and just consider it for what it should be considered; an honest effort. No one expected the writing and acting in this film to be absolutely incredible and lining up to win an Oscar, they just expected it to make at least a little bit of sense and in a way it does and to be perfectly honest and fair, the writing wasn’t absolutely dreadful. There were some serious sparks of potential popping up occasionally within the film.

Sadly though, most of those sparks ended up being washed away before they had a chance to develop into something good because of the film’s pacing. With so many fight scenes to cram in, naturally something was going to have to suffer and in this case that would the plot and character development.

The characters in this film are barely fleshed out beyond a very superficial level which is really disappointing to me since there are some very flawed and interesting characters within the cast that I think the audience really would’ve enjoyed getting to know better. I know that it took absolutely zero time for me to want to know more about Kasumi and the clan that she comes from as well as Christie and her past.

Extras

The extras on this volume are pretty slim unfortunately with only a behind the scenes look at the film that also talks with some of the actors and crew.

Overall

Fans of the video game and fans of this genre shouldn’t find anything too terribly offensive about this film to make them swear it off. The pacing in this film is terrifyingly fast which leads to some very shallow characters and a paper thin plot but the action is solid and the entertainment is real. It’s not something that anyone should walk into expecting to have their lives changed, this is something that you walk into because you wanna see very fit men and women kick the crap out of other people and look damn fine doing it!

Final Grade: 78% – C

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