The Tournament

A movie about fight-to-the-death competition for assassins. No, I don’t know why you’d participate either.

So there are three main characters:

  • the assassin who won the last competition three years ago; since then, his wife was murdered in what apparently was an attempt to knock him off – he’s convinced that one of the other assassins did it, and is determined to get his revenge
  • an assassin who actually seems like a nice person (Kelly Hu) – we know this because when confronted with a poor schmuck of a priest, who’s had someone else’s assassin-tracker slipped in his drink, she tries to protect him
  • aforesaid schmuck of a priest, who is introduced getting kicked out of the pub at opening time. Big ups to whoever decided that what this film needed was an alcoholic priest. He is played by Robert Carlyle, who is putting in more effort than he really needs to for this film.

I found this quite enjoyable, but it more as an unintentional comedy than as a serious action movie. There are some particularly incongruous music choices that make it – like the old-timey music played over a montage of death.

The plot is fairly predictable (if I tell you the competition is organised by a guy who makes a lot of money getting people to bet on it, you can probably guess where it goes) though it hardly matters when you get to watch female assassins have angst.

Here are some things that did surprise me.

  • On the first day of the competition, Hu’s character wakes up and almost immediately has to fight a guy. I thought she was wearing a nightie, so was pleasantly surprised to find she was wearing pyjamas and the scene wasn’t just an excuse to ogle her (so sad that that’s what I was expecting).
  • At one point the competition runners tell the priest that he’s in the game now, he’s going to have to kill or be killed. The movie that completely dismisses this element; the priest has vomited up his tracker before it comes an issue. I’m not sure whether this was disappointing or refreshing. No priestly angst; he’s really only there to help Hu work through her issues. And to be the audience stand-in.
  • Ian Somerholder gets to pat a dog and then shoot it in the head.

The best scene in this movie is a car chase between a petrol tanker and a double-decker bus. Robert Carlyle has to drive the bus, while Kelly Hu stops the guy driving the petrol tanker and also kills the parkour assassin on the roof.

The worst scene is the one where a bunch of the assassins happen to congregate in a strip club. During the ensuing blood bath, Ian Somerholder’s character kills off some of the staff for fun. As if we needed extra proof that he was evil. You know, I would much rather killing dogs was the standard for evil in movies than killing women.

The other film we watched with this was Showdown in Little Tokyo. I intend to write that up too, but I think first I need some screenshots of the amazing suits worn in it. So many amazing suits.

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