The Tournament
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2009
Languishing in development and production hell for what seems to be an eternity, Scott Mann's film THE TOURNAMENT finally gets a proper DVD release Oct 20th. The "combat death game" genre has been inundated with several films throughout the years such as BATTLE ROYAL, BLOODSPORT and THE ULTIMATE GAME. THE TOURNAMENT makes its mark by delivering a knockout punch with over the top action and enough plot twists to keep the viewer interested.

The story opens seven years ago with Ving Rhames character in a final bloodbath in a sordid meat packing company with two other assassins vying for the title of "World's Greatest Assassin". The scene is ultra sadistic, chaotic and bullets are flying like candy from an out of control mechanical Pez dispenser. As soon as Ving wins the battle, the environment rapidly shifts forward to the present day and the next tournament begins.

The present day battle, taking place in England, centers on 30 contestants all vying for a 10 million dollar prize and a chance to be hailed as the "World's Greatest Assassin". Each of the contestants is fitted with a two way tracking device which not only allows them to be seen by the game's ringleader, but also to be tracked by each other, on a blackberry type gadget. There are street cams, sat cams which are logged in with real time feeds to record the action for high stakes gamblers relaxing comfortably in front of jumbo screens surveying this game of death.

Each one of the devices contains a personal explosive as in the movie FORTRESS. The devises are heat sensitive and the tracking lights go out when either removed or the person expires. This is never fully explained, nor is it consistent. This fact is a major incongruity and contradiction, while also rather confusing. The relative ease as to which one of the contestants removes their device is bizarre. Probably the 10 million dollar prize would force people to want to stay in the game?

THE TOURNAMENT is a "story on the fly" auctioneer. The audience learns on the go about the characters, their faults, past history, and special skills while the action is occurring. There are several twists as the action unfolds and to divulge more about them would deter from the enjoyment of the fast paced, diversified story, which includes an unwilling participant who happens to be a priest. Revealing anything about him or why he is involved would deter from a plot complication which occurs quite early in the film.

Kelly Hu from "X-Men 2" and Martial Law plays a Chinese assassin named Lai Lai Zen with a strong set of hand to hand combat skills, combined with lightning fast reflexes. She has several interesting fights in the film. The filming style used when she is involved is like the Jason Bourne series, close up in your face action. The edits are sometimes a bit quick. This slightly deters from the action, but keeps the viewer engaged. The stunt martial duties are expertly performed by 3rd degree black belt Tea Kwon Do instructor, stuntwoman Kimberly Chiang. Ms Chiang is currently working on KING OF FIGHTERS having more than 50 films to her credit.

Kelly Hu has astonishing onscreen presence in THE TOURNAMENT especially as her character is drugged to implant the chip. She has to go through a wide variety of emotions throughout the film and commands the screen with her intensity and fortitude. A lead part such as this might catapult her back into the action realm.
Ving Rhames plays Joshua Harlow the past winner of the contest and a grieving husband. The story unfolds revealing find out his wife was murdered by one of the contestants. Usually relegated to big scary guy in his films, Rhames plays the role with passion and perhaps delivers one of his most dominant performances in his career.

This movie is so unbelievably violent and the pace is astonishingly frantic almost in the style of SHOOT `EM UP. THE TOURNAMENT also contains a variety of elements to offend everyone. Not for the faint at heart, this movie includes nudity and violence in the same scene, as a strip club becomes a warzone. One of the characters, playing up his crazy cowboy mentality, kills people and dare I say an animal not even in the game just for fun. If these facts are bothersome by all means stay away, the audience has been warned.

The twelve million dollar budget was used to full effect with hand to hand combat, knife fights, gunfights, and a battle on a Double Decker bus! The action is nonstop for 90 straight minutes. Oddly there is a bizarre montage in the middle with the slowest music possible, bullets and bodies are flying. Perhaps this is some sort of an attempt of a dichotomous allegory or maybe simply budget or time constraints.

Even with the incongruities, distractions, rather bad box art, and plot holes this is an unyielding, forceful, and memorable action film. THE TOURNAMENT features several blink and you miss it sequences and is worth repeat watching and should have had a theatrical run. The recommendation is a strong rent even a buy, especially if you liked SHOOT `EM UP or BATTLE ROYAL.

Danny Shamon-2009
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This is a popcorn flick through and through. There is a plot (well two plots) and a lot of brass hits the floor.
If you enjoy some solid acting in between the fights, this had it. The fights are well choreographed and fun to watch if you don't mind a pretty high splatter rate.
Top marks to Kelly Hui and Robert Carlyle for making the characters interesting so I cared about what happened to them.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The Tournament is one of those action films you've never heard of but is actually superior to the PG-13 trash that passes for Hollywood action these days (I'm looking at YOU, Die Hard 4). It barely got into cinemas for a week in October 2010 and you shouldn't let it slip away.

Robert Carlyle plays a washed-up priest who is caught up in a once-every-seven-years competition in which 30 of the world's best hitmen are pitted against each other in an unsuspecting, random town. The location this time is Middlesborough, England and the 24-hour bloodbath paints the town red before the climactic last-man-standing finale. Among the many hitmen are the gorgeous Kelly Hu and the burly Ving Rhames. There's not much time for character development, but the main trio work well off each other in between the brutal action scenes.

The Tournament does use some CGI blood effects in a few shots, not as awful as it usually is, but most of the gore is good, old-fashioned make-up. And when I said they paint the town red I really do mean it. The film is wonderfully gory in a way we just don't see in action movies anymore. Plus the stunts are all done for real in front of the camera, which makes it all the more visceral and visually appealing.

Don't write-off the Tournament. It delivers everything it promises. It doesn't rewrite the rules or set any new, genre-defining standard, but it's still better than modern, family-friendly 'action'.

The Blu Ray looks good in 1.78:1 1080p with DTS HD-MA sound. There are no extras.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Every seven years the world's greatest assassins assemble in a small city (different one each time) for a "cage match." The winner gets $10,000 and the 29 losers all die. Ving Rhames wins the one before the opening credits. He comes out of retirement because one of the assassins in the tournament murdered his wife. Some of the action is watched on closed circuit TV by rich people who make bets. Some of the characters are introduced by the emcee of the game. Tracking devices are surgically placed inside all the contestants, who can all track each other.

There isn't much in the way of developing characters. The premise is awful. However, if you like a fast paced movie with killing and exploding heads, this is the one. Now to make things interesting not every assassin plays by the same set of rules. Kelly Hu plays another favored assassin. Robert Carlyle plays a drunkard priest, who is not a player, but is a wild card in the game. There is a "mystery" as to who killed Rhames wife, which we find out rather quickly, and then there is the "why" as in "Why do we care?"

Roof top jumping, some CG type of fighting, impossible stunts, explosions, and a man who just enjoys killing...even dogs. Bullets that can pierce armor, but not a bar room table (where do they get those tables?)Borders on grindhouse.

F-bomb, strip club nudity (not Kelly)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
THE TOURNAMENT takes some of the best action elements from past classics like TERMINATOR 1 and 2 (the chase scenes), HIGHLANDER (there can only be one!), and BATTLE ROYALE (this time, for adults), and mixes them all together w/ a new-millennium attitude! Hell, toss in a bit of ENEMY OF THE STATE (computer geeks and satellites) while you're at it! 30 of the world's best assassins are pitted against each other in a no-holds-barred, fight to the bloody finish. A secret syndicate of billionaire gamblers are betting on their favorites, and society is none-the-wiser! Robert Carlyle (RAVENOUS, 28 WEEKS LATER) is a drunken priest named Father Macavoy, who gets caught up in the mayhem. Kelly Hu is excellent as Lai Lai Zhen, the killer who must either help Macavoy or kill him. Ving Rhames (THE PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS, PULP FICTION, DAWN OF THE DEAD) is the winner of the previous TOURNAMENT, drawn into this years event for personal reasons. His stone-cold, death-wish approach is perfect! If you love action, social satire, violence, and / or redemption, THE TOURNAMENT has it all...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 7, 2014
All the best assassins in the world come together every 7 years to a different city in the world and kill each other to see who is the best and the rich guys bet on it. Story in a nutshell....but the actors make the difference in this movie. Ving Rhames and Kelly Hu are terrific and Robert Carlyle as the drunken priest who accidentally becomes involved is good too. Ian Somerhalder has a small part as a nutjob killer and he is a stand out in that small bit. Don't expect an academy award nominated movie just sit back and have some sun...gory and gritty. Not for the queasy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2011
This is a really great movie, it is entertaining and full of action, it keeps you on the edge of your seat and if you leave for a moment you may just miss some of the good parts because it moves really fast. The Tournament is a competition and who ever can terminate the target or targets without getting killed themselves and survive till the end is sure to be awarded. There are bets being taken and camera's everywhere to see just who will win. It's a great movie and there is something in it for the women who love to see women kick butt as well. Great movie!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2012
Every seven years the world's great assassins join "the Tournament," killing each other over the $10,000,000 cash prize while rich people enjoy watching the mayhem via CCTV cameras. Now, the game, hosted by Mr. Powers (Liam Cunningham), is about to begin in the city of Middlesbrough, England, and the last champion Joshua Harlow (Ving Rhames) will be back, but not for the money this time.

In the meanwhile, Father Joseph Macavoy (Robert Carlyle), alcoholic and losing his faith, swallows a tracking device of one killer joining the game, without his knowing. This means Father Macavoy also enters the game as a contestant (odds: 500/1), but can he survive the twenty-four hours, with a help from another contestant Lai Lai Zhen (Kelly Hu)?

I think you have heard this story before, and will again. It is "The Most Dangerous Game" or "The Hunger Games" or any other films in which characters are forced to join the life-or-death game. The success of the idea on screen depends on the storytelling skills, or the "game" and how it unfolds.

"The Tournament," a British independent film, has decent action sequences and some of them are creative, but the storyline needs improvement, being full of plot holes and contradictions. While one contestant is seen removing a "tracking device" implanted in his body, others don't even think about it. This kind of randomness tends to detract from tension.

Still, there are lots of nifty action set-pieces including Sebastien Foucan's exciting free running-style chase sequence that is the highlight of the film. Scott Adkins and Kelly Hu, beating and kicking each other, show what they can do in the film's brief but impressive martial arts action scenes. First-billed Robert Carlyle as a "lost" priest is not bad, but still less memorable than Kelly Hu, who delivers a solid performance in the non-action scenes.

"The Tournament" proves once again that the time-honored concept of the most dangerous game has still potential, even though eighty years has passed since it was first made into film. The idea has been done before and better, but as to the film's action, it is better than average.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2010
Great special effects, stunning fight sequences, impressive array of weaponry, twisted minds, (somewhat) believable plot with twists....Mix in some terrific acting and you've got The Tournament! Was this film even in the theaters prior to Internet & DVD release? It's too bad movies like this never win Oscars because there's some really decent acting, regardless of what some of the Internet reviews say.

It just goes to show you that if you give someone a feature length film download for FREE, then they won't appreciate it. Charge them $10 bucks a pop to see the same film and they'll talk about it for days at the water cooler....That's how screwed-up we humans have become. Anything FREE has little or no value attached to it. "Well, since they're GIVING it away, it must be pretty bad!"

I'd never heard of this movie and had no preconceived notions about it (fortunately)...And since I wasn't expecting much, I ended up getting more than expected (MUCH MORE in my book). The "fantasy" plot is hard to believe (of course), but if you buy into it then you're in for a real treat. The characters themselves are well-done -- both in script and the acting. It's fast-paced with lots of gratuitous violence to make sure you don't doze off!

Without spoiling anything, I thought the ending was well done...Caught me completely off-guard. And it pretty much HAD to be done exactly like it was...Simply exceptional movie-making! Sebastian Foucan (as "the French guy") will have you believing he can really fly and that he lives on rooftops like the canopy of a rainforest. Scott Adkins (Yuri Petrov) as the Russian Special Forces guy is just off the chain! Ving Rhames is his normal, low-key "I'm gonna kick your arse kind of guy" and Ian Somerhalder (as the crazy American) will have you believing he'd just as soon shoot someone in the face as order a hamburger at the drive-thru...But Kelly Hu really steals the show...She's something to behold!

There's a much better trailer video on youtube than the video here...And you can even watch the movie for FREE if you want. I advise buying or renting the DVD and watching it in your home theater. I always like getting good surprises from movies and video games that turn out to be better than expected. The Tournament is one of those movies...ENJOY IT!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 25, 2014
This is one of the best movies ever made. Tons of action and all the smarts of assassins against each other. A nice turn here and there to keep it going to the very end.
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