Every seven years, thirty assassins descend on an unsuspecting city and slaughter each other, all the while being observed by hijacked security cameras for the benefit of the high rollers who are betting on the outcome. The previous winner was Ving Rhames, and he thought he had walked away from the life after that tournament. But then his wife was murdered, and he learns that the killer is in the new contest (taking place this time in England). Also taking part is the fatalistic Kelly Hu, who winds up being the reluctant protector of drunken priest Robert Carlyle, who even more reluctantly has become a long-shot competitor in the tournament after accidentally swallowing a tracking device that paints him as a legitimate target.
This sounds a bit more complex than the film really is, as the plot is primarily there just to facilitate the spectacular butchery that follows. The action is fast and furious, and the blood is as copious as you’re going to get this side of Hostel. All of which is more than passably entertaining, and there are also some surprisingly witty moments, usually courtesy of Carlyle. In its enthusiasm to go over the top, however, the film does dip its toe into some of the same ugly misogyny that so pollutes the Crank films. Still and all, bloodthirsty action fans could do worse than spend 95 minutes in The Tournament‘s company.
If you want to be watching blood spurt, you want it to be might red and mighty fine, and that is very much the case here, with this very handsome transfer. The colours are rich and blessed with powerful contrasts and excellent flesh tones and blacks. Grain is nonexistent, and it would be hard to imagine the image being any sharper. This here is your B-level entertainment in an A-level visual package.
Very nice things going on here, too, what with all those bullets and explosions respectively whizzing and booming away to wonderful surround effect. Everything has a delectably crystalline clarity, and that includes the dialogue. Forgettable and barely necessary as much of it is, it never distorts, nor is it ever obscured by the energetic music and FX.
Silly, silly and not always very bright or fully aware of exactly what it’s saying, but as straight-to-video action fare goes, this is a solid night at the flicks.