Here's another fine example of a video game movie that managed to go pretty under the radar while its namesake is actually a pretty well-known one-on-one fighting game series. This was the one that got famous for having a whole lot of bouncy but bold female characters. In other words, they kicked ass, and looked good doing it. So it was no surprise to me that the movie primarily focused on four lead female characters participating in a tournament.
First, these ladies need special invites to the fight, which they get one by one as they are introduced. We meet a shinobi ninja princess named Kasumi (Devon Aoki), whose brother, Hayate, went missing at last year's DOA tournament - a secret faceoff against some of the world's best fighters in their respective styles, where the prize money is $10 million. Next we meet professional wrestler, Tina (Jaime Pressly), fending off a group of pirates lead by 'Mortal Kombat's Robin Shou, looking like a literally washed up Liu Kang. Then there's master thief and assassin, Christie (Holly Valance) and Kasumi's friend, a guy named Hayabusa (Kane Kosugi), who follows her to keep her safe.
The fourth female character is Helena (Sarah Carter), the tournament founder's daughter, who we don't see until things get going. We see the characters get injected with nano-sensors, and soon learn that this leads to a lab where they are being monitored and researched by island supervisor, Dr. Victor Donovan (Eric Roberts) and his assistant, the painfully nerdy and awkward Weatherby (Steve Howey) for some kind of mysterious project, which is unveiled in the end, and is actually pretty predictable. Meanwhile, each of our female leads goes through the tournament with their own motivations for winning - our main focus being Kasumi, looking for her brother (so definitely the Liu Kang of the film), and dealing with an assassin named Ayane (Natassia Malthe).
As far as the others go, Tina is, in her way, the comedy relief who deals with a lot of the butt-kicking of men who are "being men" - like the sexual advances of Zack (Brian White). Christie develops a plot with her partner, Maximillian ‘Max’ Marsh (Matthew Marsden) to attempt to steal the prize money. Finally, Helena ends up being the "key" to the vault Christie needs access to, and ends up being the impossible love interest for Weatherby - a character so awkward that Jim Levenstein (of 'American Pie' pie-humping fame) would tell him he needs to calm the hell down. As one might predict, it all boils down to these four femme fatales and Donovan with his final result of his experiment.
This one is tricky to say the least. Looking at it from a critical standpoint, it's pretty bad. It's full of tropes, tries to scream "girl power" but sort of just embarrasses itself, and things end on such a simple and predictable note. It's also a movie where they cram everyone they can into it. Thing of a DOA character, and I'm fairly certain they show up in one way or another here. The most fun is probably Bass (Kevin Nash), Tina's father, who brings in his own brand of comedy. But I do have a tendency to enjoy Nash whenever he's featured in something anyway, despite quality. So on the whole, this is definitely something I'd consider on the bad side. But much like with 'Street Fighter', it's something I can have fun with.
I think that if you can look at this in the same scope as something like 'Charlies Angels', and keep that 'Street Fighter' mindset (where you can tell the film doesn't take itself seriously), I daresay this is something you can actually have fun with. It's just about what I expected it to be, and it does do a good job with fight sequences, but it may also take the video game similarities too far. For example, if you watch a fight on a monitor, there's a health bar, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense. But for me, that's right up there with M. Bison's arcade controller. This film is, indeed, ridiculous. It's corny, full of bad dialogue and bad acting, and almost overrun with T&A. But there's a certain "bad movie" charm to it.