It’s March and if there is one thing March is known for, it is tournaments, particularly in basketball. So I think it is funny that today’s movie is about a tournament. Now this movie is another Blockbuster purchase and one that I had never even heard of before. The only reason I bought it is because the premise of it sounded somewhat like Battle Royale, which was a good movie. So I bought this and found it pretty entertaining in it’s own right so let’s get some excitement to start the day with today’s movie, The Tournament.
The plot: Every seven years, the worlds wealthiest individuals organize a secret, underground tournament in a random city; one in which they bring in special forces, athletes, hitmen, and psychopaths to participate in a 24 hour free-for-all fight to the death. The winner will receive £10 million while the wealthy elite, observing the tournament, make their own money placing bets on who will win and who will die. The organizers jam the city’s communications so that nobody can dial the authorities, while the violence and destruction is passed off as terrorist attacks, riots, or a lone madman. Seven years ago in Brazil, a man named Joshua Harlow ducks into a meat processing plant as he is being pursued by another competitor, who fires a machine gun at him. Harlow manages to get a bolt gun and uses it to kill the assassin, then kills his friend, who is another competitor and mortally wounded, and as he looks into a nearby camera, a room is shown filled with money as the organizers declare him the winner. In the present day, the tournament has been selected to take place in Middlesbrough, Unikted Kingdom and the organizers begin making preparations and tapping into the city’s surveillance system. Lai Lai Zhen, a contract killer, arrives at her hotel room and drinks a vial, which she is told to drink at 9pm, only to end up passing out from the drugged cocktail and some men enter her room and proceed to implant the tracking device in her. The next morning, Mr. Powers, this years tournament organizer, welcomes the other elite to the viewing room and begins showing all of this year’s competitors. He then tells them they have a late entry, Joshua Harlow, who is there for revenge; as his wife was murdered 4 months ago and her killer is one of the competitors. Lai Lai wakes up and sees the tracking monitor on the table, welcoming her to the tournament while outside her room, another competitor is killing the bellhop and stealing his uniform. As the elite watch from the security cameras, the competitor knocks on Lai Lai’s door and leaves the room service tray there but as she investigates it, he sneaks in through her balcony window and attempts to kill her with a garrote but Lai Lai is able to fend him off and kill him, while Powers tells the assembled viewers that her odds have now gone up to 7-1. Anton Bogart, a French acrobatic killer, heads into a diner’s restroom and proceeds to remove his tracking device, then tosses it into a pot of coffee. Keeping tabs on the pot, Anton watches as Father MacAvoy, a priest who has suffered a crisis of faith and become an alcoholic, drinks the coffee and as he leaves, Anton follows from the rooftops. Unknown to MacAvoy, two competitors, a sniper and a man in a car, are tracking the tracking device and taking aim at him. The sniper kills the man in the car and as she is taking aim at MacAvoy, Anton jumps down on the roof behind her and breaks her neck, then takes her rifle. The organizers start to suspect something is up when they track Anton’s signal but see no sign of him, only MacAvoy. MacAvoy heads into his church and kneels down in prayer when he is confronted by Lai Lai, who wonders why he isn’t defending himself. Suddenly, the church doors explodes and as Lai LAi’s attention turns to it, another competitor bursts through the window, tossing grenades at Lai Lai and MacAvoy. MacAvoy is knocked down when a church pew is knocked into him while LAi Lai begins fighting with the killer. When the killer gets the upper hand and attempts to drown Lai Lai in the holy water, MacAvoy grabs the killer’s shotgun and threatens him with it but the killer simply kicks MacAvoy away. Sensing the distraction, Lai Lai is able to free herself and renew her attack on the man, pulling the pin on a grenade on his vest and letting him blow up. Afterwards, Lai Lai questions MacAvoy only to realize that he really is an innocent civilian. Meanwhile, Harlow finally shows up on the game board as another assassin tries to kill him. As the assassin tries to shoot Harlow, he tells him he heard about his wife and says that Miles Slade had bragged about the hit and Harlow thanks him before killing him. Lai Lai contacts Powers to tell him about MacAvoy somehow getting someone’s tracker and he tells her that she knows the rules, she can either keep him with her or kill him but not to contact him again. As she hangs up the phone, they are attacked by another player, who attempts to run them over. Lai Lai shoots out the tires of the car, causing it to crash, then tells MacAvoy to follow her but when he hears the woman screaming for help, MacAvoy stops to try and help her. As he frees her from her seatbelt, the woman pulls a gun on him but Lai Lai shoots her, then chastises MacAvoy for not listening to her. Lai Lai attempts to get MacAvoy to regurgitate the tracker but he is unable to. When a police officer shows up, MacAvoy want to tell him what is going on but Lai Lai warns him that the officer is a player, just as Anton kills him. As Anton continues to shoot at them, Lai Lai and MacAvoy get into the police car and drive off, with Anton chasing after them on foot but they eventually manage to get away. Meanwhile, the organizers start watching as 9 players, including Slade, are converging on a strip club. When Slade sees another killer entering the club, he pulls out his shotgun and shoots him, initiating a fierce gun battle. As the players start killing each other, Harlow enters the club and joins in, until it is only him and Slade left. As Slade holds a girl hostage, Harlow asks him if he did kill his wife, just as another killer, posing as a stripper, attacks him. Slade manages to shoot Harlow, knocking him down, then kills the stripper before knocking Harlow unconscious. When Harlow comes too, he finds that Slade has him tied to the stripper pole and as he tries to free himself, questions Slade about his wife. Slade tells him that it was Lai Lai, not him, that killed Harlow’s wife and then cuts off Harlow’s finger, which he keeps as a trophy. Slade then offers Harlow a drink and pours some liquor into his mouth but as Slade goes to light a cigar before killing him, Harlow spits the liquor into his face, setting Slade on fire. Harlow kicks the bottle onto him, causing the fire to spread along Slade’s body, then frees himself and goes to kill him only to find Slade had escaped out of a hidden passage behind the bar. As the game’s progress, the field narrows down until there are only 6 people remaining. Lai Lai and MacAvoy, who have been driving all night, stop at a gas station and Lai Lai heads inside to get some food and drinks. As MacAvoy waits for her, he is confronted by Slade, but Lai Lai saves him and starts fighting with Slade. As the fight makes it’s way back into the station, Sade comments to Lai Lai about her killing Harlow’s wife and Lai Lai breaks his arm, then pins his other arm to the floor with Slade’s knife. As she goes to kill Slade, MacAvoy pleads with Lai Lai to spare his life and after a tense few minutes, Lai Lai lowers her weapon. Watching this occur via the security cameras, Powers orders Slade’s device to be activated and Lai Lai and MacAvoy hear a beep coming from Slade and back away just before he explodes. Suddenly, the phone rings and the gas station attendant, who has been staring in shock at what happened, answers it, then says it’s for MacAvoy. MacAvoy picks up the phone and Powers talks with him, telling him about the game and what will happen if there isn’t a winner. As Lai Lai tries to get MacAvoy to get the device out of him, one way or another, Anton, Harlow, and the last competitor are all converging on the gas station. Seeing them approaching, Lai Lai tells MacAvoy that they have to leave but as they leave the store, they see the competitor arrive on a motorcycle and aim a bazooka at them. As he goes to fire, he is run over by a double-decker bus but the rocket is fired and ends up blowing up the police car. Seeing Harlow approaching them, Lai Lai gets into the bus and tells MacAvoy to drive. Harlow, driving a tanker truck, engages in a gun battle with Lai Lai but when he runs out of shells for the shotgun, attempts to cause the bus to crash. As they keep driving, MacAvoy sees Anton on a nearby overpass and as they drive under it, Anton jumps onto the roof of the bus. He makes his way inside and begins fighting with Lai Lai, as Harlow continues to try and ram the bus off the road. When Anton knocks Lai Lai out of the bus, she manages to grab onto the rail and MacAvoy opens the doors so she can come back in. Lai Lai, on the lower level, shoots up through the ceiling at Anton, who attempts to shoot back through the floor at her. When Anton leaps out the upper window and hangs down to shoot at Lai Lai through the lower window, MacAvoy slams on the breaks, causing Harlow to slam into the back of the bus, killing Anton. The collision causes the tanker’s tires to explode and Harlow ends up wrecking, with the tanker exploding but Harlow survives. Lai Lai and MacAvoy, who had thrown up the tracker during the crash, make their way to a church outside of town but Harlow follows them and confronts them. Meanwhile, the organizers discover that there are no surveillance cameras in the church so they send someone there to see what is going on. Inside the church, Harlow asks why Lai Lai killed his wife when she was after him and she tells him that she was hired to kill his wife. Meanwhile, MacAvoy pleads with Harlow to spare Lai Lai’s life, telling him of the explosives in the trackers, but Harlow stabs Lai Lai in the stomach. As the elite all cheer at Harlow’s victory, Harlow steps out of the church to find a limo waiting for him. Harlow is taken to the viewing room and as Powers congratulates him, Harlow asks him why he had his wife killed. When Powers says that Harlow refused to play the game again and so he did it to motivate him into playing, Harlow grabs Powers and places the tracking device he removed from Lai Lai, into Powers’ mouth, which restarts the clock with only 3 seconds left and as the elite try to run from the room, Harlow and Powers both explode. Lai Lai is shown to have survived and she shows up at MacAvoy’s church, where he has had his faith restored and preaches to his congregation about recent events and smiles when he sees her.
This is a pretty good thriller of a movie. The acting was good, with Robert Carlyle (MacAvoy), and Kelly Hu (Lai Lai) doing a good job in their roles and I liked the chemistry they had while they are trying to survive. I also liked Ian Somerhalder (Slade) and Liam Cunningham (Powers) but was a little disappointed that Ving Rhames (Harlow) didn’t have a bigger part. The story was good, though I will say that it still feels like it borrowed from Battle Royale, especially the explosives in the tracker. The special effects were pretty decent but the action scenes were better than I expected, especially involving Anton, whose use of parkour made for some incredible stunt scenes, especially when he was chasing after Lai Lai and MacAvoy and the bus fight. It’s not necessarily going to blow your socks off but it is a decent job in keeping you entertained, or just killing time.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5