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Film / The Condemned

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"10 will fight, 9 will die. You get to watch."

The Condemned is a 2007 film that tells the story of Jack Conrad, an American convict waiting in death row, as he, along with 9 other convicts from different countries, is brought to an island by television producer Ian Breckel, who plans to pit them in a competition where they must kill each other, so that the last one standing after 30 hours gains freedom.

Not to be confused with the 70s kung-fu flick, The Condemned (1976).


The Condemned contains the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: The two female contestants, Rosa and Yasantwa, are this by necessity to survive on the island. Rosa doesn't last long, while Yasantwa manages longer, killing an attempted rapist in self-defense.
  • Advancing Boss of Doom: Jack turns into this for Ewan in the last stages of the games, especially when he kills Saiga with barely any effort. It's so bad that Ian orders a shotgun to be given to Ewan to "even" things out.
  • All There in the Manual: The full rap sheets of every single condemned are only available online in locations like the film's Wikipedia page. We only get the stories of three of them on-screen (Jack's, Ewan's and Mackie's).
  • Asshole Victim: Invoked Trope: Breckel requests incredibly despicable yet badass people (like condemned death row inmates) in order to make those who watch the contest feel good about seeing them die (and because getting them out of third-world prisons is as simple as slipping some bucks to the warden). However, Breckel's manipulations in making the contestants kill and torture each other and blatant disregard for anything resembling decency marks him and his crew as just as awful, and begs the question of how much of punishing an asshole victim is justified if the one who's punishing is just as despicable.
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  • Attempted Rape: Yasantwa fends off an attempted rape by the German inmate right after she's dropped on the island, killing him.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Ian Breckel, the TV Producer who's responsible for organizing and filming the competition, and Ewan McStarley, the most dangerous out of all the inmates who ends up being the biggest physical threat to Jack Conrad.
  • Black Widow: Yasantwa's file reveals that she was on death row for murdering men who she seduced. On the island, she manages to do the same with Kreston.
  • Broken Aesop: The film makes a major point that a program where convicts fight to the death is inhumane and cruel as well as criticizing viewers for supporting such barbarity, though the marketing capitalizes on that exact point, especially with the tagline. It becomes funny when you realize that this was made by two companies who are known for their violence (Lionsgate, which is known for the Saw franchise and WWE, a wrestling company) and that the leading actor is best known for being the poster boy for the Attitude Era.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Breckel has no problem pissing off McStarley, despite the latter being ex-Special Forces and the former being a far less personally dangerous media baron.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The manual detonation capability of the explosive anklets is used repeatedly throughout the movie.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Excluding Paco and Rosa, all the convicts. However, McStarley really shines on this one.
  • Comically Small Bribe: Near the end, Ian tries to offer Goldman a million dollars to get him off the island. The problem is he'd already promised Goldman "5% of the gross", meaning he owes the man a couple hundred million.
  • Condemned Contestant: The game pits 10 condemned criminals from prisons around the world against each other.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Ian Breckel. A media magnate that creates an In-Universe Real Life Deadly Game (with the express goal of having it get higher ratings than the Super Bowl) for the money and possibly the ennui, doesn't give a damn about the horror he unleashed, points out the hypocrisy of modern-day Media Watchdog mentality in a televised interview, strangles Goldberg to death when he confronts Breckel, and plans to escape the island leaving the entire filming crew to be arrested when he gets confirmation that the authorities know where they are, plus showing some favoritism for McStarley and Saiga, only to toss the former under the bus as well, not that it was such a good idea. Everybody, even McStarley, is sick of him by the film's end.
  • Dark Action Girl: Yasantwa. Also a Femme Fatale since she was known to seduce men before killing them. Same with Rosa but she doesn't last as long.
  • Deadly Game: It's the idea of the film, actually: Breckel wanting to do one of these In-Universe. It becomes deconstructed because, realistically, people are horrified with the idea (to the point that the event needs to be aired on a "snuff" site, and compared to the alleged billions of people that see these kind of games on other stories, the fact that it brings enough viewers to average that of a Super Bowl airing doesn't really sound that impressive), without the support of a government willing to go the Bread and Circuses route it is illegal as all hell (and Breckel wasn't arrested before the whole thing started because nobody else thought he was serious, and an important sub-plot is the FBI trying to trace the feed to send agents to get him), and only the truly psychotically amoral (read "only Breckel") would consider keeping going with the project (and force everybody else to carry on) once they actually see people suffering and dying (In-Universe) for real.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: The In-Universe crossing of the invoked Moral Event Horizon for Breckel is asking for the crew to film Rosa's rape and then murder. After that, none of the recording crew make any jokes about the situation at hand (and some even want Jack to win, if nothing else because he's not McStarley).
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Jack, who ends up free rather than going back to prison nor facing any charges over his acts on the island (granted, the former was something that the government wouldn't attention on, the latter likely self-defense) and is brought home to his estranged wife and step-children.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Goldman, part of the film crew for the deadly game, who's increasingly sickened by the violence of the show and by Ian's indifference to it.
  • Evil Brit: McStarley is one of the "thuggish cockney" variety.
  • Evil Is Petty: Ian gives Jack a false backstory that paints him as a psychotic child-killing Right-Wing Militia Fanatic for insulting him.
  • Explosive Leash: The explosive ankle bracelets on the titular condemned, which will explode when time runs out, they are attempted to be removed without the proper key, or you pull a small red tab on it, after a 10 second countdown. They also have GPS trackers to keep tabs on the contestants, but Jack manages to spoof that later in the movie.
  • Forced to Watch: Paco was crippled and chained up, being unable to get away from hearing or seeing his wife Rosa being raped by McStarley, then murdered.
  • Freudian Excuse: Played with. McStarley mentions he was raped while serving time in an African prison. However Jack calls it out mentioning that it doesn't excuse all the atrocities he committed. Also, it's hinted he was lying in order to making appear himself more sympathetic to Jack.
  • Genius Bruiser: Jack. The man spends some time on the chopper doing a Sherlock Scan to figure out how to go back to the production camp.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Excluding Goldman and Julie, both Ian and his crew are killed by the men that they themselves brought to the island.
  • Immoral Reality Show: "The Condemned" is an In-Universe Real Life Deadly Game. The fact that it's online-PPV-only is a small nod towards the fact that nobody would dare broadcast a show like this in TV in real life. Still, it gets the ratings Brecket wanted (higher than the average Super Bowl) by the end.
  • It's All About Me: Ian. And he certainly has no problem tossing anybody under the bus to keep himself out of jail, alive and reaping in the millions.
  • It's Personal: Until that part of the film, Jack only cared about finding a way out of the island, refusing to participate in the game even when Paco asked him for help to kill McStarley and Saiga in revenge for killing Rosa. However, once he sees Paco being killed after being tortured by Ewan and Saiga, he finally accepts participating in the game.
    Jack: "I'm in."
  • Kill the Cutie: There's a horrible scene of Rosa being raped and killed (behind a tree, for what that's worth) while her husband was forced to listen. Wikipedia shows the character of Rosa (played by Dasi Ruz) to have "stood by her man during the duo's merciless killing spree, which landed her a seat next to her husband on death row. Charges of prostitution flesh out her mile long rap sheet." Nevertheless, it was one of the scenes which established The Dragon and was shown as so abhorrent that it portrayed Brecket as crossing the Moral Event Horizon to even his own crew.
  • Knife Nut: McStarley and Saiga both gain knives during the games. However, Saiga is more than excited about his knife.
  • Large Ham: McStarley at times, with much aplomb by Vinnie Jones. Including a brief A God Am I slip while he machine guns the whole filming crew.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Ewan killing Ian's crew, who were enjoying seeing the games and the convicts' deaths and suffering quite a lot. He even addresses it while killing them. Ewan himself also is hit by this, being killed by Jack immediately after it.
  • Manipulative Editing: Not a direct example (the feed is never touched), but still. When Jack refuses to tell Brecket the reason why if he in jail, Ian immediately orders for Jack to be given a false backstory as a member of The Klan and your typical crazy militant redneck, plus providing Ewan and Saiga with supplies more often. Brecket also wanted a Multinational Team of convicts for the sake of ratings, raging about not being able to get an Islamic extremist convict (to attract Middle Eastern audiences) until he saw Jack fight.
  • Aptly, "The Condemned Dot Com". With live video access. Credit card only. Somehow it gets more viewers than the Super Bowl near the end (even though, as Film Brain points out, the Super Bowl isn't a pay-per-view event, and thus has a far lower bar to viewership). The actual Real Life webpage address for the film is a pretty good example for this trope: "Watchthemdielive-dot-com".
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: After a failed attempt to confront Ian, Goldman keeps this view. However, once Goldman sees that Ian's gonna betray everyone, he takes a more physical confrontation, which, unfortunately, doesn't end well.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Jack gives one to everyone he fights.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Ewan attempts this with Jack since they both performed Dirty Business for their country and repaid by being abandoned and left to rot in foreign prisons; however, it doesn't work. Then again, considering the events, it's possible Ewan was just being sarcastic.
  • Oh, Crap! / Why Am I Ticking?: The reaction of all the contestants when the explosive anklets are first triggered.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain:
    • Breckel lets loose with a slew of anti-Arab slurs when complaining about an Islamic extremist convict he wanted to participate in the competition being murdered before he could appear on the show.
    • McStarley is a blatant racist and misogynist who's even known to have committed the only rape in the film.
  • Rape Discretion Shot: Rosa's rape (and subsequent murder) largely gets hidden by a tree.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: McStarley is firmly established as worse than the other death row convicts through his crimes being listed as including multiple rapes. He later proves it through raping another contestant, Rosa, on the island (along with torturing and murdering her).
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: Several of the characters don't speak English (ex. Saiga). They don't get subtitles, but you can get some understanding of what they're saying from context and the tone their dialogue is delivered in.
  • Red Shirt: Dominic Giangrasso, the Italian convict. His screen time is both his reaction to having an Explosive Leash attached to his ankle and boasting how he's going to "eat" everybody on the chopper... and then he gets impaled on the remains of a boat when dropped from said chopper, right when the game officially starts.
  • Retired Badass: Zigzagged. Jack is officially retired from the Army, but he still did unofficial jobs under Delta Force Black Ops operations for them in various countries until he was captured and placed into a Salvadorian prison for a year without ratting out his superiors. It's mentioned he has killed more people than any of the contestants including McStarley.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Ewan, and to a lesser extent, Jack.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: McStarley. His Establishing Character Moment is having his criminal file read, which mentions him being guilty of war crimes, including rape and wanton slaughter. He even lampshades it to highlight the difference between Jack and himself in that both have committed horrible acts under service for their government but unlike Jack, McStarley enjoyed the horrors he committed.
  • Think of the Children!: One of the film's most notorious scenes is a reporter arguing in favor of censorship. Bracket's response is an outright defiance of this mentality — it's not his job to think of who will see his work (either deliberately or accidentally).
  • Title Drop: Both the name of the Pay-Per-View website with the game's feed and the final speech by the reporter that interviewed Breckett ("Are we the condemned?").
  • Token Good Teammate:
    • Julie, Breckel's girlfriend, who grows increasingly disgusted by her boyfriend's cruelty and tries to convince the other crew members to stop him but is ignored for her trouble. She ends up helping Jack kill Breckel by giving him an exploding anklet to throw at his helicopter before disappearing, presumably to be arrested by the authorities.
    • Kreston Mackie may have been the only "good" contestant since he was imprisoned for running away from a death penalty charge to Malaysia, meeting a native woman, and then being betrayed by that woman when she reported possession charges while he had more than ten pounds of illegal drugs on his person putting him in death row again. He even admitted he didn't want to kill anyone and just wanted to get the explosive ankle off himself when he had Yasantwa at his mercy.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Kreston admits he got caught the last time because he trusted a woman. His first act on the island? Trust another woman (who, like him, was on death row). Naturally, she kills him. He even lampshades it saying "Not again!" before his death.
    • Ian very foolishly pisses off mass-murdering ex-Special Forces sociopathic soldier McStarley. His guards are little better and agree when McStarley asks for a cigarette (the distraction which he's used to kill both of them). Ian manages to briefly survive at least (before being killed by another ex-Special Forces soldier he pissed off).
  • Twofer Token Minority: The two female contestants, Rosa and Yasantwa. Rosa is Latina and Yasantwa Black African.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Paco and Rosa were on death row for good reasons, but they're still husband and wife and genuinely love each other.
  • Villain Team-Up: McStarley and Saiga. However, it's more of a Teeth-Clenched Teamwork, as neither one is exactly happy working with the other and Saiga immediately tries to kill McStarley once he thinks they're the last two contestants standing.
  • Villainous Friendship: Goldman and Ian. However, it's one-sided on Goldman's part, as Ian only cares about the money.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: While Paco and Rosa are both mass-murderers, they both only try to find each other during the games, even running away from other participants. Plus their tortures and deaths are used to make the perpetrators out to be even worse.
  • You Bastard!: The reporter who interviews Brecket gives a speech about this when she comments how "The Condemned Dot Com" website only gained success due to millions of viewers willingly logging on and paying to view the horrors committed and that they are just as much to blame for Brecket because he only capitalizes on their sadism.
  • Your Mom: When being interviewed, Jack tells Brecket that he comes from an Alaskan town, "Fuck Your (Ian's) Mom".