Monday, December 07, 2009

The Tournament

hey everyone

well, whilst we are on limited sleeping shifts with William at the moment, we are getting to watch films at odd hours of the day and night. on that note, many thanks indeed to the Sony channel for showing many episodes of David Letterman and class films like Top Secret! and The Untouchables at one in the morning.

an anonymous and very dear friend (yes, you Maria - hello!) recommended something called The Tournament to me. why? well, it is one of the few films in the world set in my dear old hometown, Middlesbrough!

this being the case, and mindful of the fact that the film features the magnificent Robert Carlyle and the much admired but seldom used Ving Rhames, we figured it was worth a look.

the plot? erm, yeah. to describe a plot as such would do a great injustice to what is essentially a flimsy idea surrounded by improbable if not improbable gaps as it is, never mind actual plot holes. for the sake of a standard review, here we go.....

every seven years (six according to the poster, mind) it seems that the 30 best assassins in the world get together for a "to the death" competition (or, if you will, tournament), with the last one standing claiming a $10million prize from the confederacy of rich types who put massive bets on this. Middlesbrough, England is selected as the venue for the one in the film and this is where the 30 assassins (including the reigning champion, good old Ving) meet up to compete.

in the king of all the contrived moments on offer in this film, an alcoholic priest (played by Robert Carlyle) inadvertently ends up being sort of the 31st contestant in this tournament, albeit one shielded or otherwise protected by the exceptionally violent character played by Kelly Hu.

give or take the odd bit of dialogue and the occasional, admittedly rather funny one-liner here and there, what this film delivers is 90 minutes of sheer, unadulterated mindless violence for the sake of it. it's not bonkers like the splendid Crank films, but it's not too far removed from them either. the penchant on display here is very much "blowing $*** up", really - people, buildings, cars, anything you can name, really.

i should be slamming this film, but i really don't have the heart to do it - maybe it's because i was rather tired when i watched it, maybe it's because the film is apparently banned in Germany that caused some interest, but this film does really fall into the category of "awful, predictable and yet wonderful cult fodder.".

in the days before the "big" awards landed thanks to The Departed, Martin Scorsese was once quizzed on the lack of awards his talents attracted. his response was appropriate here; "film-making is not about winning awards, it's about making money.". in the broader implication of that statement, it certainly explains the appearance of "heavyweights" like Carlyle and Rhames in this.

and why not, as the greatest film critic ever is alleged to have said. Mr Carlyle and Mr Rhames need to pay the bills just like us, and i dare say a large chunk of the budget went to their bank accounts. as an added bonus to that, there's a bunch of relatively unknown actors in this film who can now boast of starring in a film with the two of them.

as for the setting, well, a little research suggests that a number of exterior and establishing scenes were filmed in Middlesbrough, but the majority of it was filmed in Bulgaria. i am not sure that when they were making it they were even aware of it being set in Middlesbrough, as there's no explicit references and they often mistakenly call it a city. we're not a city, we are proud of our town status, thanks.

do i recommend this film? well, sort of yes, really. it's perfect Friday / Saturday night fodder - witty, fast paced, and levels of gratuitous violence that put the majority of other films in this genre to shame, even if the "let's blow them up" approach does get a little tired by the hour mark. it's far removed from what one would call quality, artistic cinema, but it entertains just fine. if highlights of your viewing pleasure thus far this century features, but is not just limited to, the likes of Boondock Saints and Crank, well then, this is the film for you.

be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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