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Monday, September 18, 2006

Swifty Reviews 'DOA: Dead Or Alive', The Best Video Game Adaptation Since Mortal Kombat

I have long given up hope on video game adaptations. There was a time when I looked forward to every single one of them like any naive video gamer would, begging my long-suffering dad to bring me to the cinemas for such classics like, ah, Super Mario Brothers (we were in Washington then, 1993), Street Fighter (1994, even though I was only 10 then, the film embarrassed the crap out of me, my dad was traumatized) and Double Dragon: The Movie (1994, I got a FREE ACTION FIGURE of Billy Lee from the cinemas! It was the highlight of the entire night, I think it was my dad's too, til this very day, I have it displayed proudly in my room, a badge of honour that I survived the film).

Then, in 1995, Mortal Kombat arrived. My dad and I went to see it (with my then-toddler little sister, whose only contribution throughout the movie was to wail about going to the toilet repeatedly, thanks a lot, Sandra). It was a magical experience that reinforced the fragile bond between father and son, since we finally saw a GOOD video game movie!

Mortal Kombat is the Citizen Kane of video game adaptations, unsurpassed until this very day. Magical because of its sheer campiness and fun fighting scenes, and hey, Johnny Cage rules. Besides, I got to witness the greatness that is Robin Shou, who remains the most underrated Chinese actor of his generation. Guy should've been a superstar.

Many video game adaptations followed since then, neither of them emulating the greatness that is Mortal Kombat. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation should never have existed. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, shamed me as a Final Fantasy fan. The Tomb Raider films made me hate Angelina Jolie. The Resident Evil films? Well, I'm one of the rare few who liked the second one more than the first one, maybe because it's sillier, to the point where I could giggle and snicker through the absurdities of the action scenes.

Other than that, I ceased putting myself through the torture of video game adaptations. No, I didn't watch Doom. And no, I haven't seen a single Uwe Boll film. (seeing them will most probably make me appreciate the existences of non-Uwe Boll films more, obviously, but I would rather indulge in my angst than to remedy it by torturing myself further).

Then, DOA: Dead Or Alive, made a surprise advanced worldwide premiere over in Australia (solely because Australian singer Holly Valance is among the main cast members) last week. Overwhelmed by curiosity, and the chance to hold bragging rights that I've seen the DOA film earlier than everyone in America, I went to see it with my flatmate, Duane. And walked out of the cinema, shellshocked.

After eleven years of waiting, I think I saw the best video game adaptation since the first Mortal Kombat. If Mortal Kombat is Citizen Kane, then DOA: Dead Or Alive is Lawrence of Arabia, or Casablanca. It's campy, it's silly, and it doesn't take itself as seriously as say, the Tomb Raider, Resident Evil and (ESPECIALLY) Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Without the heavy-handed pretentiousness and attempt to be a 'good film' like the aforementioned movie, DOA: Dead Or Alive was refreshingly stupid, yet stupid in an endearing way.

Maybe it had to do with the babes. But I doubt I am such a superficial person.

(Having Eric Roberts, yes, ERIC ROBERTS, as the bad guy was already a sign that you should NOT take this film seriously. And in this comeback performance of his, I immediately liked him more than I ever liked his sister, Julia.)

Unfortunately for me, I had a horrible time convincing anyone that DOA: Dead Or Alive is actually a good film.

I told Hui Jing, a junior of mine, about it, and her reply was:

"Please, don't ruin my impression of you."

Not intending to ruin her impression of mine (which is probably godlike), I snapped my mouth shut.

Then, I told Josh about it, and his reply was:

"Hahhaha! Right, that's a funny one. DOA, a good film, HAHAHA!"

Basically, my declaration of the film's greatness for the past week was treated with skepticism and disbelief. My attempt to spread some love for the film was greeted with derisive snorts. Why? WHYYYY? DOA: Dead Or Alive is the kind of film the forgettable Snakes On A Plane should've been.

Of course, I was just as dismissive as everyone when I first saw the trailer, shaking my head in disbelief when I realized that Devon Aoki was casted as Kasumi. I don't want to be mean, and she doesn't really suck in this film, but Devon Aoki never really struck me as someone who has the flawless CG beauty of Kasumi.


Devon Aoki as Kasumi in DOA: Dead Or Alive
The actual Kasumi from Dead Or Alive video games

Kasumi, my favourite character in the game, is meant to possess a fragile beauty, an aura of vulnerability, to contrast her actual kickassness.

A more suitable candidate would've been this unknown cosplayer chick whose photo I featured in Justin's important Sea of Fertility article.


Beautiful Kasumi cosplayer


Unfortunately, she's an unknown...

Having the babelicious Yu Yamada as Kasumi would've been great too.

Yu Yamada should be Kasumi


... never mind.

But then, casting Devon Aoki ain't bad, did I mention that a white chick played the supposedly Japanese Ayane? For comic purposes, obviously.

Natassia Malthe as Ayane


Other than that, the film is pretty damned entertaining. And while watching it, I was struck by how similar its fighting scenes were to the Hong Kong films, So Close, or the Charlie's Angels films, until I realized that the film IS directed by Corey Yuen, director of So Close, and martial arts fight choreographer of those Charlie's Angels films.

Okay, here's another reason why you MUST watch this film, ROBIN SHOU has a cameo in it! That's like, the greatest thing ever! I mean, I couldn't believe that it was him when I first saw the film, thinking that it was just some lookalike, but after checking on IMDB, I realized that it was HIM! There is no better stamp of approval than to see the appearance of Liu Kang himself!

Robin Shou is god


Enough said, I'm starting to seem more and more desperate in trying to prove that I'm not lying about this film. The video below of Holly Valance in action as Christie (hehe) WILL convince you (especially if you're a teen).



P. S. I enjoyed DOA: Dead or Alive more than I enjoyed Superman Returns.

P. P. S. I'm not counting Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children as a video game adaptation. Don't ask me why, I'm too lazy to explain.

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