The Tournament 2009 Movie Scene Ving Rhames as Joshua holding a shotgun to the face of the last contestant

The Tournament [2009]

Although it feels like your classical straight-to-video B action movie, The Tournament is actually a massively entertaining and violent experience. Once the action starts it doesn’t stop ’till the movie is fucking over. As you might’ve figured out from the title, The Tournament is a movie about a competition involving the world’s best killers who must fight each other until there’s only one survivor. This simple yet deliciously effective premise was executed to perfection. You’ve got killers from different countries and each of them is laughably stereotypical. However, I think that this is half the fun, leaning into these well-established action movie rules.

When it comes to the cast of The Tournament, it’s fucking glorious. Not only have we got Robert Carlyle (28 Days Later, Ravenous), Ving Rhames, and Scott Adkins but we also got Liam Cunningham from Game of Thrones. The supporting cast is also not too shabby. Since this isn’t a big movie, they could go nuts with the graphic violence. What this means is that this non-stop action will be bloody with people’s heads exploding and all the other juicy stuff. If you don’t have a strong story or characters why not make an action spectacle and keep things moving? 

Of course, The Tournament is not the first nor it will be the last “best of the best” movie. Recently we had the opportunity to check out The Condemned and a couple of years before movies like Mean Guns and Battle Royale. Although I would be remiss not to mention one of my favorite movies of the eighties The Running Man. I know that I have a lot of favorite movies from the eighties but what can I do when they’re so good? Finally, Smokin’ Aces, a visually and thematically similar action movie is also a good choice if you’re looking for something to watch after this one. 

The most powerful, corrupt, and depraved people in the world have their new favorite game. It’s simply called The Tournament and it enables them to watch people kill each other to be the last man standing. Plus, they can bet on their favorites. The winner of this vicious game also gets $10 million. Now, Father Joseph MacAvoy didn’t want anything to do with this abomination. However, to live, he will have to team up with one of the contestants, the sexy but deadly Lai Lai.

Oddly enough, this is the second time Robert Carlyle plays a priest, some ten years after his magnetic performance in Priest. To be honest, you can see that this is a budget version of bigger action movies. In that sense, it reminded me of Death Race 2 and Arena, two similar action movies with similar production values. What makes The Tournament stand out is its cast. Too bad the only developed character is Carlyle’s priest. So, all in all, if you’re looking for a dumb but entertaining B-movie action, you’ve just found it. 

Director: Scott Mann

Writers: Gary Young, Jonathan Frank, Nick Rowntree

Cast: Ian Somerhalder, Robert Carlyle, Kelly Hu, Ving Rhames, Scott Adkins

Fun Facts: The budget for the movie was $8 million.


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