The Tournament comes to UK Region B-locked Blu-ray complete with a fairly decent 1080p High Definition video presentation in the movie’s original aspect ratio of widescreen 1.85:1. Although detail is not exceptional – it certainly does not look like a glossy big budget production – the quality is surprisingly good considering it was made for next to nothing. Edge enhancement barely rears its head, softness is negligible, and the film appears to have been largely shot digitally, allowing for the minimum of defects and grain. The down-side is there isn’t that much of a filmic sheen to this production, although the style makes up for this quite a bit. The colour scheme (as the film was mostly shot in the UK and East Europe) isn’t the most expansive, with exteriors populated by dreary weather and bleak locations, but the colours are always rendered well, and some of the interior sets are much more vibrant (including the strip club where, shock horror!, they actually strip for once). Black levels are reasonably decent, but low-level lighting and night-time shots are not a strong point of this presentation – thankfully this makes little difference as most of its takes place during the day.
On the aural front we get quite a boisterous affair. Again it’s not an exceptional track, it won’t stand up to the Iron Man films, and it doesn’t show much polish or nuance, but it works well for the material, engaging you with a thumping, excited mix that helps the action-packed narrative gain even more momentum. Coming to us in the now-standard DTS-HD Master Audio format, the dialogue (which really is often of relatively little significance) is clear and coherent throughout, largely emanating from the frontal array. Effects are normally weapons-related: pistols, automatics, shotguns, machine-guns, sniper rifles and bazooka’s all offering up their own particular attributes to the sonic delivery – and in the more eventful engagements we do get some directionality across the array. Honestly though, it’s a blunt and forceful track which has very little subtlety to it, and with the rocking soundtrack to accompany the proceedings, and a fair amount of bass rumbling through the LFE channel, this one definitely goes for power over precision. Can’t really complain on a movie like this though, and, again, it does little to betray the insignificant budget they were working on.
The disc is completely bare-bones, not even a trailer (except those on disc start-up) which is a first for any Blu-ray I have ever reviewed. Again, not wholly surprising considering the low-budget, indie nature of the film, but it’s still disappointing that they couldn’t have stuck something on this disc.
The Tournament is a surprisingly fun action flick which seldom betrays its tiny budget and mottled production history. Remarkably stylish, enjoyably action-packed and peppered with insane moments which will largely smudge over the inherent production limitations, significant plot holes, and clichéd narrative and characters, it will always pull you back in with an over-the-top kill that involves something (normally a head) exploding. Honestly, you’ve got to set your expectations to low, check your brain at the door and have something at the ready to intoxicate your brain with – and having a few mates at hand is always a plus point, as you can laugh together at the craziness of some of the movie – but this is far from a bad film. It may never rank highly amidst mainstream action movies, and may be a complete rip-off of Battle Royale, spliced with The Running Man, but it bests Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassin’s Ball and competes with the likes of Universal Soldier: Regeneration and The Descent: Part 2 for high marks in the DTV category, remaining a choice rental for a lazy, switch-your-brain-off night in.
On UK Region B-locked Blu-ray we get decent enough video and audio, and a complete lack of extras, all leading us to the conclusion that this is a rental offering, both in terms of movie quality and Blu-ray package enticement. Of course if you find you love the flick, you may find it’s probably pretty cheap to buy too. Seriously, for all those boyfriends out there who are roped into watching The Apprentice, your revenge lies right here. Throwaway but surprisingly enjoyable fun.
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