When somebody pitched this movie to me last week saying it was about some hit-men battling each other as some sort of a game I was thinking: that’s a freaking Spider-man comic they ripped off right there. In the late 80’s there was a two-parter about Spidey in Las Vegas teaming up with the Hulk against a couple of Cyborg hit-men/mercenaries battling each other for a trophy and making lots of collateral damage. But watching this movie myself there were more elements that were ripped from other movies. The whole betting by rich men on the outcome reminded me instantly of Rat Race with John Cleese. You can play a game yourself with this film: recognize the movie they rip-off.
And you’ll be screaming titles all the time; Smoking Aces, Pulp Fiction, Terminator 2, etc. It really gives this movie an extra layer which it doesn’t really need but it’s a bonus. The movie itself is a no-brainer action movie which I actually enjoyed more than I should have. It’s a fairly generic action movie in which a couple of professional hit-men enter a game only one will leave alive. These hit-men are all caricatures and stereotypes. There’s Joshua Harlow (Ving Rames) a big black man and winner of the previous edition and only returning because the supposed killer of his wife has entered also. Miles Slater is the crazy one, gets a kick of killing and cuts the fingers of his victim with a cigar-cutter. Yup, if you yelled Darkman you scored a point there! He also kills a dog, that’s how sick a fuck he is. There’s a Yugoslavian character as well as a french guy who knows parcours and leaps around like he’s Spider-man. Then there are two other main characters in the game: Lai Lai Zhen (Kelly Hu) and Joseph Macavoy (Robert Carlyle). She’s a Chinese hit-woman, he’s a drunk priest who becomes unwillingly a part of the game as he has swallowed a tracker used by the participants to follow each other.
For those wondering how the millionaires keep track of the opponents: the setting is Great Britain and it’s mentioned that it has the greatest number of CCTV-circuits of the world, so they tap into that. This was one of the elements of the movie that made scratch the back of my head a couple of times. Not only seem these camera’s to be EVERYWHERE. The gamblers are even witnessing a fight taking place on the inside of a church. Fun fact: later on it’s mentioned when the movie returns to the church again that they can view what’s going on inside. I was also wondering that when they could follow the opponents through the CCTV, the owners of those systems could as well which makes the statement of covering these battles up as terrorist attacks and such a bit shaky.
Now by this time you’ll probably know if this is a movie for you or not, the only thing that worried me was that it would be one of those dreadful B-movies, made on a shoe-string budget and having really bad fights. Luckily that is not the case and this movie is surprisingly entertaining being as shallow as it is. There are some twists here and there but nothing you don’t see coming a mile ahead. When Miles confesses he’s not the Killer of Joshua’s wife my girlfriend and I pretty much knew right away who did and with what reason. But that’s quickly forgotten as the movie is jampacked with good action sequences, a quick pace and just enough story to keep it from getting boring due to overkill of fighting.
Those who enjoy a simple action flick from time to time but hate those really bad B-movies should go with the tournament. It’s a fun 80 minutes of mindless ass-kicking and from time to time, that’s not so bad.