DVD REVIEW: The Tournament
What do 30 assassins and a drunk priest have in common?
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Every so often, I'm in the mood for a no-holds-barred film with as much shoot-'em-up action as possible and as little story as available. Enter this week's The Tournament, starring Robert Carlyle (The Full Monte), Kelly Hu (X2: X-Men United) and Ving Rhames (Mission: Impossible films) and directed by Scott Mann (Pocket Thief).
While I'm not saying The Tournament has the best action and no story, I'm simply saying there are those times in one's life when a movie with too deep of a plot will cause you a headache and too little action puts you to sleep. For those in just the right mood and for those looking for just the right amount of on-screen killing - be it with a shotgun, pistol, grenade, knife, or out-of-control bus/car/train - The Tournament is just what you ordered.
The plot is fairly simple (again, nothing too heavy here): every 7 years, in a random city in a random country somewhere in the world, the 30 most talented and successful assassins are invited by a committee of their clients to attend "the Tournament" in which the last assassin standing takes home the title "world's best assassin" and $10 million in cash.
Now, to me, 7 years seems like a short time period to restock the world with worthy assassins of this caliber, but apparently not (didn't you know, the world's never short of assassins!).
7 years ago, Joshua Harlow (Ving Rhames) won and is now enjoying a life of wealth and luxury away from the killing with his prego wife. However, after Harlow turns down an invitation to be in this year's tournament, events unfold which force the wealthy, assassin-turned-family man back into the ring to defend his title against a eclectic group of killers from around the globe, including a Chinese assassin, Lai Lai Zhen (Kelly Hu) on a quest of redemption. Let's not forget the drunken, but peaceful Father Joseph Macavoy (Robert Carlyle) who unintentionally - or, some might say, by God's will - enters the tournament and ultimately affects the outcome of the event as a whole.
Wow. After writing out the plot, it does seem that there's a bit more to it than I originally thought. But, after really thinking about it...there's not. The plot is really second-hand to the non-stop action that most adrenaline film junkies will appreciate. Bullets tear through everything from bodies and cars to churches and hotels, grenades are tossed every which way they can be, and even a rocket launcher or two make an appearance. Buses and fuel trucks take center stage as killers duke it out in what seems to be one of the most fun - and violent - films of 2009.
The DVD includes a English Dolby 5.1 surround sound audio track as well as solid subtitles (for those of us who need them). Sadly, the disc is light on bonus features and includes nada.
Granted, The Tournament is not for everyone. If you don't like seeing churches blown up, bodies shot up, fists caving in faces, and severed fingers sliced and diced, look somewhere else. The Tournament is violent and it doesn't apologize for being such. But for those who enjoy gun-toting assassins shooting up other gun-toting assassins (along with the random civilian or two...or 20!), The Tournament is my pick of the month for "cool new film you've probably never heard of" and it's available now on home video wherever fine home videos are sold.
- Jess C. Horsley