Dread Central hit the Weinstein Co. last week for a screening of British director Scott Mann’s The Tournament, which has been programmed as L.A. Screamfest’s ‘Opening Night Film’ this Friday, 10/16 in Hollywood, CA. A bloody smash-up of Battle Royale and Kill Bill, among others (see a trailer for The Tournament below), the hybrid flick is scheduled to be released to DVD via Dimension on 10/20.
The film stars Robert (28 Weeks Later) Carlyle as an alcoholic priest caught up in the titular game (a shadowy organization has assembled the world’s top assassins and hi-jacked England’s close circuited camera systems in order to televise their battle to the death) with Ving Rhames, Kelly Hu, Ian Somerhalder, and Scott Adkins rounding out the cast. Dread sat down with director Mann to chat with him regarding his feature debut.
“Battle Royale was definitely a huge inspiration from the start – it’s so daring and nuts, and I love its approach to violence and the hidden humour in it,” said the director regarding the Jonathan Frank, Nick Rowntree, and Gary Young-scripted The Tournament. “I also drew a lot from the tone of Robocop, where the violence is both shocking and comical at the same time, almost tongue in cheek. It was one of my favorite films growing up. I kind of used Robocop as a tonal barometer for the film as a whole. Style-wise, The Tournament is like a huge pick-n-mix of set-pieces, and so I’d always lean towards my own favorite films as reference, depending on what was unfolding.”
As for the gore – and there’s plenty on hand (bodies explode, burn, and splatter with glee) – Mann took a practical approach in creating the effects. “Due to the low budget, almost all of the physical stunts and gore were done on set, rather than in post,” Mann reflected of the film, which was shot in 2007 and 2008 in Bulgaria and the UK. “Although a little more difficult and dangerous at times, it adds a level of authenticity, capturing something real as opposed to recreating something from a technician’s head. There were quite a few sets which ended up being, quite literally, blood-soaked.” Not surprising, given the violence on display.
Equally as impressed with the action elements of the film, Dread commented on the film’s vehicular stunts, in particular a third act semi-trailer chase that serves as a bit of an homage (albeit bloodier) to Terminator 2. “For those,” said Mann, “we had a great Bulgarian stunt team who literally threw themselves into it; there were no CGI or remote-controlled vehicles, even the most outrageous stunts had a guy behind the wheel.”
A labor of love undoubtedly – the director related that, “There was a lot of starting and stopping of production as money ran out during principal photography and more had to be raised” – the finished film is a slick and effective thrill-ride, and in this scribe’s estimation producer Keith Bell succeeded in putting all £3.5 million of the flick’s budget on the screen.
So what’s next on Mann’s plate? “I’m currently working on an action thriller which I hope to shoot next year. A big chase film – I’d describe it as Bourne meets Se7en.”
Get your tix to The Tournament and Rachel Belofsky’s venerated L.A. Screamfest here.
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