95 Min. | Action – Thriller | December 2009
IMDB Rating: 6.1
Director: Scott Mann
Staring: Ving Rhames, Robert Carlyle, Kelly Hu
The Tournament Review: If there is one glorious thing about making movies going in to the second decade of the millennium, it’s that someone can have a successful movie, and a pretty good movie, that does not have to have a theater run to gain an audience or make money. There has been plethora of direct to DVD or direct to OnDemand releases that are just as good, or better, or better in a different way, than a lot of wide release movies. Usually the biggest difference between the two are marketability. The main consideration for marketability is the star power of the cast or the filmmakers. Ving Rhames, one of the stars in the ensemble cast of “The Tournament,” is probably the most marketable name associated with the movie. Most people still remember him as Marcellus Wallace from Pulp Fiction, so that right there gives a clue as to the marketability of “the Tournament.” That’s OK. “The Tournament” should live on in DVD rentals and sales for years to come.
“The Tournament” is ridiculous in its attempt at scripting and plot. The “plot” is that every seven years the best assassins from all over the word are gathered together in a small town to go at each other in a free ranging field of play until there is one man or woman left standing. This year the action takes place in Middlesborough, a small town in the UK. The advantage of this small town is that it has more closed circuit cameras than any place else in the world. Included assassins are Joshua Harlow (Rhames), the defending champ who is only back to settle a score, Lai Lai Zhen (Kelly Hu), a killer with a conscience, Miles Slater (Ian Somerhalder) a crazy killer from Texas, and the alcoholic Father Joseph Macavoy (Robert Carlyle) who, through a devious tactic by another assassin, gets pulled into the game against his will.
What develops is a farcical stretch of anyone’s credulity, but the action is so fun and violence so over-the-top that a fan of the action genre cannot help but to enjoy the show. The gore level of the violence is nearly on par with Stallone’s Rambo and the physical stunts (many actually done by this fun cast) are the high flying craziness of District 13-style. The finale comes as a bit of a surprise in that it revisits a style similar to action movies of the 80s and 90s. The satisfaction level of the ending is very high. “The Tournament” is a blast for action fans. The movie is simple with only a hint of a plot that’s only purpose is to set up action sequence on top of action sequence. Watch it.