24 hours, 30 assassins, and 346 explosions (rough estimate); sadly this is not what my upcoming weekend has in store for me, but rather it’s a loose rundown of a newish Direct-to-Video gem called The Tournament. This is another instant DTV action classic that, like Blood and Bone and Undisputed II, caught my attention via the Internet. Man, what an invention the Internet is; did you know you can find information on just about every movie ever made on this thing? It’s wild, I’m telling you. God Bless Al Gore! Creator of the Internet and savior of our planet!
If ever there were a film to singularly exemplify the term, “non-stop action”, it could be this one. While I’m not ready to give it said title just yet, it’s definitely a contender. The premise is that every seven years a competition (The Tournament) is held in a random city, wherein 30 of the world’s top assassins proceed to kill each other off until there is only one standing. The winner is then given a large cash prize and declared “World’s Greatest Assassin”, at least for seven years. Then they’ll have to compete again in order retain their title. Each player has a tracking device surgically implanted in them before they begin so that they can all be tracked by each other on the iphone-like devices that have been provided for them. For us at home, it’s basically like watching a full-scale multiplayer videogame, with real people instead of animated characters.
The Devil's got his sights on you, Father...
At the beginning of The Tournament, the head honcho, Powers, who is in charge of everything gives an ultra cheesy speech to the underworld slime balls who will be making bets on which assassins they think will win. He only highlights 5 of the 30, so you don’t have to think too hard about, “Oh I wonder which ones will be the last ones standing! I mean he only showed us these five, but there could always be a wild card contestant who could come from behind and win it all, right?” Wrong. I wonder what the non-highlighted contestants would think about not being mentioned like this. Do you think they would just realize, “Ahh fuck, they didn’t show any footage of my past assassinations, caught on tape because this organization obviously has thousands of secret video cameras all over the world, so I must not have a chance”, or would they try to defy the odds? Well this movie isn’t that deep, so I won’t even pretend to tell you that they thought of anything like that.
Who you callin' eye candy?
The main stars of the film are veteran screen tough guy Ving Rhames, the winner of the previous Tournament, back again because he heard one of this year’s players killed his pregnant wife; Martial artist/actor Kelly Hu (X2, The Scorpion King), who wants to win enough money to get out of the killing business for good; and Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting, Ravenous) as an alcoholic priest/non-assassin who accidentally ingests one of the tracking bugs that another player cut out of them and threw into a coffee pot. He and Hu team up when she realizes what happened to him and takes pity because of how fucked up his situation is. So that’s the main crew, but there’s also appearances from former LOST star, Ian Somerhalder, playing a psychotic Texan killer as opposed to the pretty boy he played on the aforementioned TV show; Sebastien Foucan, the free-running bad guy from the beginning of Casino Royale, and one of the creators of Parkour; and last but certainly not least, my boy Scott Adkins (Undisputed II, The Shepherd) makes an appearance as well, albeit a shorter one. This guy is from England but for some reason i've only seen him play Russians or Americans. I think it'd be great if he could use his native accent in a movie because in real life he sounds so proper and dignified, like he would invite you over for some tea, but then kick your ass for spilling it on his new rug.
Who's callin' Boone a pussy?!?!
As you can tell from above, the movie was able to put together a pretty solid cast, and even better than that is fact that it was able to secure itself a surprisingly big budget for a DTV action movie. It’s because of the budget that the movie works so well. It looks a lot better than the average DTV production and the action/gore does not hold back whatsoever. Without the money that was thrown into this thing, it might not have worked so well. You see, this may be an action-packed movie, but it sure as hell isn’t the brightest one. There are several oversights in logic that you’ll need to just go with in order to enjoy this thing. Like, why would any assassin actually take part in The Tournament anyways? Odds are they’re not going to make it out alive, so why don’t they just stay out of it altogether and continue to be a high-paid killer, as well as a living one? I mean they have to be making some serious dough in their normal line of work, so why would any of them partake in this nightmare if money was the only motivator? There had better be a damn good reason if you ask me; more than just the arrogance of wanting to be the best.
When the hell do I get to play an English character??
Well all that aside, this movie still kicks a lot of ass and if you’re willing to look past those little leaps in logic, odds are you’ll be having a great time taking in all the mayhem. Especially since there are so many “Oh Shit” moments sprinkled throughout that you’ll likely forget what you were questioning in the first place.
Body Count – 42 + 1 dog
Times one assassin is about to kill another but is interrupted at the last second – 9
Times someone says, “The Tournament” – Sadly, only 4
C'mon Poster, you know it's every SEVEN years...