The Tournament is a movie which utilizes the modern and very popular concept of an illegal and underground tournament of fighters (or in this case assassins) pitted against each other to the death and recorded for the viewing and betting pleasure of some of the world’s richest crime lords.
We’re introduced first of all to Josh Harlow (Ving Rhames) as he wins a older tournament becoming it’s reigning champion. Afterwards he receives his fortune in prize money and gets married to begin a new life.
Now, Harlow’s wife is assassinated by someone who will be entering the next tournament (held every 7 years) and he decides he must enter to exact his revenge.
Next we’re introduced to Lai Lai Zhen (Kelly Hu), a Chinese assassin who enters the tournament because she wants to win the prize money and disappear, starting a new life. She is the first person to make a kill, after she is almost instantly attacked when the tournament begins, somewhere down town Middlesbrough in the UK.
Each assassin has a tracking chip implanted into their bodies, so one of the assassins named Anton Bogart (played by the awesome Parkour man Sebastien Foucan) removes his chip and tricks a local Alcoholic Priest (he has problems) to drink it. From this point on the priest is in the game and has become a target.
After his first run in with Lai Lai Zhen, Father MacAvoy (played by Robert Carlyle) begs for his life. He and Lai Lai are then attacked by Yuri Petrov (played for a very short time by Scott Adkins). After surviving the attack the two run and try to keep Father MacAvoy alive whilst trying to remove the Chip.
All the while the assassins keep killing and killing before it becomes a tense game between the remaining key players, who must all kill or be killed as their chips will explode if they’re still alive when the tournament time is up.
Robert Carlyle’s character Father MacAvoy seems to be the main player that takes this tournament from a standard killing spree into something different.
Not only is he an alcoholic looked down upon by the towns people, he is (quite obviously) a priest. So the man has a little to deal with and seems to be pretty weak in just about all aspects of his life. Being unknowingly thrown into the mess of assassins killing each other not only makes a difficult situation for him, but makes the tournament itself different and interesting.
As Lai Lai Zhen does her best to protect Father MacAvoy, everyone else does their best to kill both of them, creating new odds for Lai Lai Zhen to achieve victory. On top of the that (spoiler alert!), she is the assassin that was hired to kill Harlow’s wife. With Harlow being considered the most dangerous assassin with the best odds, Kelly Hu’s character Lai Lai has possibly the highest odds to overcome, which is why she is naturally the main character.
This creates a pretty decent concept for the storyline, and gives the movie a little more cred in that department compared to just a standard action film.
A Line up of Action Talent!
Being a mainstream movie released in an English Speaking Country, you’ve got well known names like Ving Rhames and the gorgeous Kelly Hu as the main stars, along with Robert Carlyle. They carry the story and character development the best.
The other blood thirsty assassins however require a little less acting talent and more physical skill.
Most martial arts movie fans will recognize the appearance of Scott Adkins playing the (now becoming) typecast of a Russian fighter. He has one short fight scene early in the movie which showcases some nice stuff – as you come to expect from Adkins. Needless to say, this is probably the strongest martial arts performance in the movie.
Sebastien Foucan also plays a role and utilizes his Free Runinng / Parkour talents to create another visually exciting character as he jumps from rooftop to rooftop with perfect style. His capabilities are so slick but slightly underutilized.
Kelly Hu actually does some decent fight scenes, but the camera shots are a little more shakey and quickly cut to create illusion of a good martial arts – but it all suits. Other than that there’s a hell of a lot of gunwork with Ving Rhames and many other characters shooting each other to death.
The movie is a balanced action movie using gunwork, hand to hand fights and other visually exciting bits and pieces to keep it varied and exciting. Definitely not the best movie you’ve seen, but not bad.
On Blu Ray –
Region A (US & Canada)
The Tournament [Blu-ray]
Region B (UK, Australia, New Zealand, Europe etc)
The Tournament [Blu-ray]
On DVD –
Region 1 (US & Canada)
The Tournament on DVD
Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)
The Tournament [DVD]
Region 4 (Australia, New Zealand, etc)
The Tournament on DVD