The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: The Weinstein Company - 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 95 minutes
Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Ving Rhames, Kelly Hu, Robert Carlyle, Ian Somerhaulder, Liam Cunningham
Directed by: Scott Mann
Music by: Laura Karpman
Written by: Gary Young, Jonathan Frank, Nick Rowntree
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: November 16, 2010
"Death by elimination"
Every seven years, thirty of the world's most deadly assassins face off against one another for an outrageous cash prize. There's only one rule: kill or die. As dozens of wealthy gamblers watch via closed-circuit TV, a city is overrun by brutal assassins -- all aiming to be the last one standing.
The Tournament is an action film that revolves around a tournament of death that is held every seven years at different locations around the globe. The 30 participants consist of the world's best killers for hire who compete in the last man standing contest for a cash prize of $10 million. Joshua Harlow (Rhames), the winner of the previous tournament, was content in retirement but has returned seeking revenge for the recent assassination of his innocent wife which was carried out by an unknown participant in this year's tournament. Lai Lai Zhen (Hu), along with Harlow is among those favored to win until she runs across Father MacAvoy, an accidental/unwilling tournament entrant and priest who has lost his way in life. Lai Lai opts to help Father MacAvoy extricate himself from the tournament and together they take on some of the most dangerous and skilled assassins on the planet. Their biggest obstacle comes in the form of a man on a quest for vengeance whose only option is to kill them all.
As an action movie lover I can generally be more tolerant of contrived plots and shallow characters as long as things make sense and the action proves rewarding. When I read the press release for The Tournament it didn't impress me so when it arrived I went in with low expectations. Unfortunately open mindedness and low expectations weren't enough to make this an entertaining experience. I didn't have a problem with the premise although the explanation about how the tournament, which takes place in view of the public, is handled in the media was ridiculous. There are several non primary characters with good potential that if handled differently could have added a richer element of action/thrills. Sebastien Foucan the amazing free runner who I first saw in the opening chase sequence from Casino Royale has what initially appears to be a pivotal role but eventually it goes nowhere which is a shame. Rather than that we get Ian Somerhaulder's incredulous and overacted portrayal of Miles Slade, a misanthropic sociopath who has a history with Joshua. The focus on Lai Lai, Joshua and Father MacAvoy is fine but not enough to keep interest from waning. I didn't care for the attempts at drama which not only seemed out of place but extremely poorly acted to boot. I mean let's not kid ourselves these aren't A list actors playing these roles. Subplots with a deeper emphasis on the characters engaging in the tournament might have helped. Lastly, I found the melodramatic ending, along with its telegraphed twist to be corny and contrived. The Tournament probably has enough blood letting and action to keep it afloat but the remainder of its elements prove too much for it to overcome.
The rating is for strong bloody violence, language and some nudity.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Tournament comes to Blu-ray Disc from Vivendi Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 21 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.6 Mbps.
This film's source elements don't lend themselves to overly vibrant, high gloss video but I was pleased with the results. Images tend to lean toward darker color schemes, and grittier textures that provide the look that the filmmakers are striving for. Shadow delineation is quite good and revealing of subtle details within dark backgrounds and low lit sequences. Stable contrast and deep blacks dynamically enhance images which provide punch to both light and dark onscreen elements. Detail is rendered quite well as evidenced by delineated close ups and discernible refinement visible during wide angle pans. This isn't strictly the case as resolution occasionally falls off but I wouldn't classify it as deleterious. Colors are limited to darker tones with occasional splashes of vivid hues which stand out nicely against the film's dark theme. Grain is noticeable and at times takes on heavier emphasis which I found to be a little distracting.
The high resolution DTS-HD Master Audio sound does a nice job rendering the film's soundtrack. Dialogue has appreciable intonation and clarity which allows subtle tonal differences in the voices of the cast to be noticeable. This is a well balanced surround mix that quite often engages the entire system. The action based elements provide an enriching level of immersion that cuts a wide swath that fills the room with near field sound effects, energy filled dynamics and suspense building rhythms. The LFE channel is frequently active and reproduces the soundtrack's lower bass frequencies with room energizing bass that has palpably rich extension.
There are no bonus features on this disc.
The Tournament is a below average thriller that features a fair level of action but suffers from poorly conceived characters, an unfocused script, and melodramatic performances from a mediocre cast. On a positive note, its presentation on Blu-ray Disc from Vivendi Entertainment looks good in high definition and shakes things up nicely with an engaging DTS-HD Master Audio surround mix. If curiosity gets the better of you give it a rent otherwise wait and catch The Tournament on cable TV.
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews
Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100 16x9 Screen
Anthem AVM50v THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-83 Universal disc/Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Samsung BD-C7900 Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Better Cables, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package