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The Tournament (Blu-ray Review Canadian Import)

Why So Blu might just make it a habit of reviewing imports now, because once we start, we can’t stop!  Continuing on the import train, we now bring you The Tournament which has not received an official Blu-ray release in the states other than the standard DVD through The Weinstein Company.  I actually found out about The Tournament when I was watching Solomon Kane. There’s a trailer for it on the Kane disc.  I’m under the impression that the UK may get a Blu-ray release before the U.S. Not to worry, our neighbors to the north already got it…and so do we!

Film 

Every seven years, thirty of the greatest hitmen in the world converge in a small town, city or area in a foreign country to battle it out for the grand prize of ten million dollars.   These are no ordinary hitmen.  They all have specialties which range from weapons expertise to martial arts, demolitions, explosives, or just impulse.

Joshua Harlow (Ving Rhames) is the tournament’s last winner and reigning champion. Harlow is out for revenge, because rumor has it that the person who murdered his wife is in The Tournament as well.

Lai Lai Zhen (Kelly Hu) is a Chinese hitman who got her start for the triads when she was growing up.  She’s somewhat reckless, but that’s due to her guilty conscious eating away at her.  She’s been in the “business” for a looooong time.

Father Joseph Macavoy (Robert Carlyle) is a Catholic priest who’s lost his faith and turned to the bottle for spiritual guidance.  It’s not until he’s under the scope that his faith will really be put to the test, because only God can help him now.

Upon doing my research for this review, I found out that The Tournament was plagued by so many production problems including running out of money TWICE!  Keep in mind this film started production in early 2007, and it’s now 2010.  On that alone, most will write it off.  I’m here to tell you not to.  Since The Tournament was filmed overseas in Bulgaria, that keeps production costs way down.  It allows for money to be rerouted to the physical, special practical effects, stuntwork, and other costs not associated with locations.  Props go out to the production team, because bodies have never looked so good when they explode.  Oh yes, the body count is high, and the red matter will flow!

Video 

The Tournament is presented in a 1:78.1 aspect ratio.  The Torunament was distributed by Alliance in Canada.  Alliance has an awful reputation for butchering the original aspect ratio in films.  I also had to do some recon in trying to figure out if the 1:78.1 is correct or not.  I’m 99% it is, because the standard DVD released in the states by The Weisntein Company also has this ratio.  Rest easy.

The presentation is not spectacular.  In fact, it’s pretty ugly and gritty.  This isn’t a bad thing since the film’s subject matter is also the same.  Certain shots will appear soft or hazy which I assume is inherent to the source.  Considering its low budget roots, I doubt this was ever supposed to look breathtaking.  Personally, I enjoyed the look, but have to be fair and honest when reviewing the picture quality.  It’s fugly.

Audio 

The Tournament is presented in standard Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. The soundtrack defaults to 5.1, so be sure to switch the DTS track when it starts playing.  Just like its counter part in the video department, the audio quality is pretty standard fair.  It’s very front driven, so explosions, gunshots, silencer rounds, and most of the onscreen action will be hitting you from the front.  The ambient sounds don’t really take effect until the big action scenes take place.  This is a neutral sounding film.

Special Features

Keeping true with the Alliance modus operandi, we get NADA in terms of special features.  You pop in the disc and the film starts automatically.

Final Thoughts

The Tournament isn’t revolutionary by any means, but I’m a fan of the genre.  This could easily be considered the companion piece to Smokin’ Aces.  The Tournament has some spectacular shootouts, chases, and fight scenes.  Great kills litter the film, which should please the action junkie in all of us.

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Bring home The Tournament on Blu-ray!

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

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