Princess Kasumi (Devon Aoki) must never leave her clan, but since her brother has disappeared while on a mission she has been eager to track him down and today is the day she plans to make her exit. However, there is an army waiting to stop her, not to mention her half-sister Ayane (Natassia Malthe) who has sworn to kill her if she goes through with it - but that won't deter her. Meanwhile, wrestler Tina (Jaime Pressly) is lounging around on her yacht when she's attacked by pirates; or rather, she attacks them when they board, making swift work of them. And then there's thief Christie (Holly Valance), who has just escaped the police with her loot. They have all been chosen to fight in the DOA tournament; there can be only one winner...
The name Paul W.S. Anderson in the credits will alert you to the fact that DOA: Dead or Alive was based on a computer game (assuming you didn't know that already), and it might also alert you to the fact that hopes are rarely high for such endeavours. And while the film is relentlessly daft, if you're prepared to approach it all on its own level then you might well be pleasantly caught unawares when you find yourself quite enjoying its mindless antics. It's essentially an excuse - as if one were needed - to admire attractive young actresses beating each other up (and selected male cast members too) in heavily stylised sequences. Don't worry, there are no bruises.
And as far as this goes, you could do worse - there is one sticking point, but I'll get to that presently. Once our fighters have been assembled on a remote island by organiser Donovan (no, not the Scottish folk singer, it's our old friend Eric Roberts) - they had to parachute in, naturally - they can await the results of who is up against whom. First they have to put up with some science fiction-y business where they are injected with nanobots to size up which pairs are best suited to for combat, a plot point that is very important later on, and in no way an arbitrary development to give us a reason to see Donovan as a villain in a contrived climax, oh no. After that, the games can commence and after a fashion, they do.
That fashion being fast cutting, the odd bit of slow motion, lots of gritted teeth and many shots of the actors (or their stunt doubles) flying through the air. Director Corey Yuen (working from a script by J.F. Lawton, Adam Gross and Seth Gross) is a past master at this kind of entertainment, and he has a cast who know how to pose, pout and generally look good in a bikini: and that's just the men! OK, no, it's the ladies. However, while the storyline fleshes out enough subplots as it can from a very basic gaming narrative, if you've been diligently following the tournament and wondering who out of Pressly, Aoki or Valance is the best, and all too aware that there's only one way to find out (FIGHT!), then you'll be let down by a finale that never answers that pressing question and instead reverts to a standard beat the big boss showdown. Although at least we now know those actresses are better than Eric Roberts. Music by Junkie XL.
In the nineties, he directed Jet Li in films like The Legend, The Defender and The Enforcer, which led to work as action choreographer on many of Li's Hollywood films, including The One, Kiss of the Dragon and Cradle 2 the Grave. Most recently, Yuen directed the Luc Besson-produced action hit The Transporter.