DOA: Dead or Alive

The drive-in will never die, at least so long as studios keep churning out stuff like this B-grade adaptation of a third-rate video game franchise best known for employing unique physics in its rendering of enormous, gravity-defying, bouncing breasts. Stocked with a stacked cast of ass-kicking babes, it's one noisy, brain-rotting hunk of junk-food cinema, but damn if it isn't satisfying. I don't know about my inner child, but my inner Mountain Dew-gulping, pimply teenaged boy thought DOA rocked like a fucking hurricane.

Stealing the basic concept of Enter the Dragon, the "plot" follows an elite martial arts tournament that takes place in a swanky Asian island fortress that appears to be constructed out of balsa wood and plaster of Paris. Shoddy construction turns out to be a good thing, since about every cast member gets thrown through a wall at least once. Even more damage is done to the scenery by Eric Roberts, camping it up as the head villain with an evil plan to copy all of the fighter's best moves, download them into a pair of super powerful Blu Blocker sunglasses, then auction them off on the Internet. So after 90 minutes of sword fights, kung fu, wire fu and bitch slap fu, the fate of everyone hinges on one dorky hero's mastery of a QWERTY keyboard. Besides mad fighting skills, the combatants' all-sport crazy hair, from Roberts shaggy, salt and pepper mop, to a dude with a classy bright green 'hawk, and a chick with a fetching lavender bob cut.

Leading the list of cartoon warriors is "Ninja princess" Kasumi, played by Devon Aoki (Sin City), who can fight and certainly looks the part, but who could be outacted by any random sequence of pixels. She's a completely wretched actress, but at least she can return to the simple life of a coked-out L.A. model and spoiled Benihana restaurant heiress.

Slightly better work is turned in by Jamie Pressly, as all-American hottie Tina, since Pressly seems to know how silly the whole thing is. Other cheap thrills include Kiwi sexpot Holly Valance modeling bras, Kane Kosugi's quality stunt work, and seeing smarmy wrestler Kevin Nash spoofing his old bud Hulk Hogan.

Famed Hong Kong action director Corey Yuen (The Transporter) delivers plenty of PG-13 titillation and harmless violence, recycling some his own best bits and aping a ton of others. A DOA spin-off game involves beach volleyball, so Yuen obligingly tosses in a gratuitous scene of our heroines spiking, diving and digging in tiny bikinis. In fairness, each scene in this sucker is gratuitous, every bone-crunching punch and leering close-up of jiggling flesh is dialed up to ridiculous extremes. It's exhausting, but never boring, though a pause button sure would come in handy.

Corey Hall writes about film for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].

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