Death by elimination
Running Time: 95 minutes
US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 18
Country: United Kingdom
The first scene of The Tournament opens with the caption ‘Middlesbrough, Great Britain’. Cue me wetting my pants at the inclusion of this super grim English town in an apparently American movie starring Ving Rhames. And there’s more, Middlesbrough isnt just a Bondesque starting point, its the setting for the whole film. It’s a novel touch to have an out-and-out blaster taking place in somewhere different and somewhere as unexotic as Middlestrough – basically not in an American city or the third world. The gleen is slightly wiped away as it turns out that it’s actually a British film employing the cheap trick of getting a Hollywood B-lister onboard to increase international appeal and that much of it was filmed in Bulgaria.
Personal gripes aside, The Tournament isn’t a bad shoot-em-up as it delivers exactly what it promises with lots of action, cheesy acting and limited plot. Basically, it’s a typical Ving Rhames vehicle. He stars as Joshua Harlow who’s taking part in a secretive tournament for the world’s best assassins to show who’s best and fight it out for a huge cash prize. They take over an unsuspecting town – in this case it’s Middlesbrough – and fight for the entertainment of super-rich gamblers until there’s just one last man standing. Harlow is a former winner brought back to fight alongside paper-thin goons and slightly less paper-thin secondary characters like the sadistic Miles Slade (Somerhalder), mysterious Lai Lai Zhen (Hu) and a mistakenly included local Priest (Carlyle).
Whilst not exactly being original (collecting the world’s badasses to kill each other seems like such a common movie pastime that it must have an ounce of truth), Scott Mann’s low budget first movie effort is enjoyable. There’s a good mix of the predictable and suspend-your-disbelief moments and the whole thing revels in it’s cheesiness and brutality throughout. The action is well executed although not enough characters are given time to properly stutt their stuff and it does get boring towards the end and even though the special effects sometimes look quite cheap (because they are), Mann doesn’t rely too much on them. Overall, it’s a good film to switch off and watch but obviously not a classic.
It's Got: Servicable action, an vague attempt at plot and backstory, it's tongue firmly in it's cheek
It Needs: A little more originality, a couple more characters to get properly involved, more free running from Foucan
DVD Extras None - bad news DVD Extras Rating: 0/10
Alternatives:Smokin' Aces, The 51st State, The Running Man
Scott Mann brings us an alcoholic priest, master of free running and triad assassin in a fairly unoriginal but enjoyable action movie set in the most unlikely of places.