Vivendi Visual Entertainment // 2009 // 95 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // November 18th, 2010
Death by elimination.
The world's best assassins are pitted against each other in a kill-or-be-killed tournament for $10 million, unrestricted by loyalty, a conscience, or a PG-13 rating.
Every seven years, The Tournament is held, sponsored by shadowy figures who are even more powerful than the local authorities. All the world's top assassins gather to hunt each other, leaving only one standing to pocket the $10 million. (The world assassin ranks don't take long to replenish, huh?)
This go-round the heavy-hitters include the winner of the last tournament (Ving Rhames, Mission: Impossible) back to avenge the death of his wife, a deadly Triad killer (Kelly Hu, X2: X-Men United), a French free-runner (Sebastian Foucan, Casino Royale), and a redneck gunslinger (Ian Somerhalder, The Vampire Diaries). Caught in the middle of this craziness is a washed-up priest (Robert Carlyle, Stargate Universe) and victim of an unfortunate circumstance that finds him a target in the competition.
The Tournament has a lot going for it, but just enough deficiencies to cripple and prevent it from making a real impact in the straight-to-disc market.
1) So much violence. And big-ass, over-the-top gory violence, too. Multiple bodies explode, shooting out cascades of sinew and blood, heads fly apart from point blank range, a guy gets run over by a bus, someone gets a face full of burning alcohol, and shotguns tear apart fools. This is a hard R action gorefest with almost zero restraint.
2) Foucan, who dropped jaws during his ridiculous free-running sequence in Casino Royale, is a player. He's a main character and given plenty of opportunities to show his considerable talents, with three separate set-pieces built expressly around his athleticism. They also happen to be the most exciting sequences in the film.
3) The inclusion of Robert Carlyle's character doesn't make much sense (see below), but at least he's an interesting character.
1) There just weren't enough dope match-ups. Scott Adkins -- a guy with some serious moves, last seen as human special effect in Undisputed 3: Redemption -- has one fight scene; an okay bout with Kelly Hu, who's okay (at least her stunt double is), but missing out on a face-off between Adkins and Foucan is inexcusable. Let the horses out of the stable!
2) The priest plotline doesn't make any sense. I liked Carlyle, but it's tough to think a ruthless Triad assassin would risk her life and $10 million babysitting some lush.
3) The ending is completely predictable.
The Tournament (Blu-ray) coughs up its beaucoup action with verve, delivering a top-shelf HD picture (1080p, 1.78:1) that tracks the mayhem while spitting out some tight clarity. There's a lot going on at any given moment and this transfer is a winner, rendering the flamboyance and fireworks beautifully. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio pushes its bombastic score nicely, enveloping the surrounds with the fusillades and explosions. Extras? Executed.
The lack of extras is a disappointment and the film itself is uneven, but there is fun to be had and the technical merits of the disc are impeccable.
Not Guilty. Come back in seven years with some more juice.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Vivendi Visual Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 95 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R