DOA: Dead or Alive (2006)
DOA: Dead or Alive is one of those rare movies usually found in the bargain bins that gives you exactly what the cover says — sometimes more, depending on which DVD cover you got. It’s a video game-movie that knows fully well what it is. Story may be as flimsy as the kimono Devon Aoki wears early in the movie but the fight scenes are oftentimes sharp — like the katana that cuts the said kimono in half, in the movie’s opening sequence. Aoki plays ninja/princess, out for her missing brother, and Jaime Pressly is a pro-wrestler who wants to prove she can do better than fake-fights. And Holly Valance, well, she’s got the best introductory part, where she beats up some cops in a hotel room while putting on her panties and bra. There’s fair amount of fanservice in this movie, but it also has some ‘girl power’ vibes. The girls of DOA can definitely kick some serious ass. The fights may not be as great as Corey Yuen’s work in So Close, but competent enough for fans of the genre, and with sexy ninja babes to make up for it. There’s a swordfight in the middle of bamboo trees that’s House of Flying Daggers-worthy. And there’s also a sexy volleyball match on the beach! Some of the fights may be goofy (e.g., the final fight with Julia Robert’s brother), but there’s just enough good stuff to keep it fast, furious, and fun. DOA is a good-bad movie that’s terrible and terribly good at the same time.
Mortal Kombat (2021)
Video game franchise gets some Marvel-like upgrade in this new movie that combines CGI, superhero fights, and characters’ origin stories — most memorable of them, is of one mouthy side character who shoots beams from his eye. Yes, talking about Kano because the heroes were kind of bland. Compared with the first movie, this has better action, better fights. That the VFX and the sets are quite impressive, is pretty much a given, it’s already 2021. Still, I thought Joe Taslim (The Raid, The Night Comes For Us) was somewhat wasted in this one. The frequent cutting during the fight scenes seems to hide most of the hits, which is disappointing given that most of the cast could actually fight. Fans of the 1995 Paul (before he earned his “W.S.”) Anderson movie will find plenty things familiar. For one, it’s the same “chosen ones not quite ready to be heroes yet” all over again. Plus the odd choice of putting one new character at its center, with Deadpool 2 punchline/Shatterstar actor in the role, in a costume that seems to be a cross between Black Panther’s and Aquaman’s. Which gave me second thoughts on whether it would’ve been better if the movie focused more instead, on the game’s two most popular characters, whose origin story of sorts in the opening minutes, packs action, pathos, and blood — the combination of all three, the movie was never able to deliver for the rest of its running time.
Mortal Kombat (1995)
There’s hardly any exciting combat in here, much less mortal danger. Unless, you fear that Sonya Blade will get killed (in the movie, highly unlikely) or get hurt for real (which is likely), because fight Bridgette Wilson obviously can’t. Ditto with Linden Ashby as Johnny Cage, martial artist/Hollywood actor who’s so eager to prove that those fights in his movies weren’t fake, that he’s a legit martial artist. And then figures in yet another silly looking fight that’s incompetently staged — maybe an unintended self-reference, in a movie seemingly not afraid to make fun of itself. Obviously, only three (or four) characters in the movie can actually fight: Liu Kang, Sub-Zero, Scorpion, maybe, Reptile. The movie’s a bit of a dozy in parts. And all you can do is try not to shut your eyes and think pray hard Princess Kitana (model-actress Talisa Soto, lovely) is in every fight. By the way, when the hell did Raiden/Rayden become a white guy? Did all those years of beheading Immortals finally earned Connor MacLeod a seat with the gods? I don’t know, there isn’t really much in here. Well, at least Liu Kang gets to do his bicycle kick (I heard there isn’t a single “sonic boom” in that Street Fighter movie starring Jean Claude Van Damme), and Johhny Cage gets the funniest lines.