The film centers on ten convicts who are forced to fight each other to the death as part of an illegal game which is being broadcast to the public. The Condemned was filmed in Queensland. Fight choreography was co-ordinated by Richard Norton, who also stunt doubles for Jones on some scenes.
The film was produced by WWE Films and released by Lionsgate. The Condemned was released in the United States on April 27, 2007.
Jack Conrad (Austin) is a dangerous convict awaiting execution in a Salvadoran prison. "Purchased" by a wealthy television producer and transported to a deserted island in the South Pacific along with nine other condemned criminals similarly purchased from prisons around the world. They are "offered" the opportunity to avoid capital punishment and win back their freedom by fighting to the death in an illegal game to be filmed and broadcast live over the Internet.
A bomb is placed on the ankle of every contestant, each featuring a 30-hour countdown timer, and a ripcord that will detonate the bomb after a ten second delay. The winner will have the bomb removed and be given their freedom as well as a pocket full of cash as the prize. Breckel (Robert Mammone), the producer, is aiming for online ratings that equal or beat the latest Super Bowl reception of 40 million television viewers.
As the broadcast progresses, FBI agents discover Conrad's real identity as Jack Riley after a tip from one of Conrad's former classmates. Conrad is discovered to be a former Delta Force operative who was captured on a Black ops mission to El Salvador after bombing a building controlled by drug dealers. Conrad's girlfriend becomes aware of the situation and watches the show at a local bar as it unfolds.
Ewan McStarley (Vinnie Jones) and Saiga (Masa Yamaguchi) team up to remove the competition, while Yasantwa (Emelia Burns) uses her wiles to trick others to their death. After seeing the show's broadcast tower before the show, Conrad infiltrates the tower and calls his girlfriend, managing to tell her the latitude of the island before he is forced to leave.
After the other seven contestants have died, Conrad is left alone against McStarley and Saiga. He stabs Saiga, and McStarley flees. Eventually, a helicopter drops a shotgun down to McStarley, who uses it to hunt down Conrad. After Conrad falls into a stream, McStarley runs into the cameraman and his armed guard dressed in ghillie suits while searching for Conrad, and shoots them, picking up the guard's MP5.
When McStarley and Conrad meet again, Conrad ends up rolling over a cliff and into a stream to avoid being shot by McStarley's shotgun. Conrad is presumed dead by the fall, and McStarley is declared the winner. As McStarley is being driven to the control tower to collect his prize, Breckel hears that the FBI has sent United States Navy SEALs to take him into custody. After he meets McStarley and de-activates his bomb, he tells him that he won't receive his prize money. Breckel and McStarley fixed the game in his favor in exchange for his freedom and profits. McStarley takes a Heckler & Koch MP5 submachine gun from one of the guards, and kills the tech team in the building, one by one, since they truthfully didn't know that Breckel is abandoning them all. When he corners Julie, Breckel's girlfriend, he is confronted by Conrad, who shoots him several times after talking briefly. Conrad grabs McStarley's two machine guns and chases down Breckel, who is fleeing the island in a helicopter. After emptying the two guns firing at the helicopter, he is given McStarley's re-activated ankle bomb by Julie. Conrad throws it into the helicopter, which explodes and crashes into a cliff.
The epilogue shows Conrad driving back to his home in Texas, a free man, and meets his girlfriend (Madeleine West), who presumed him dead after he fell off the cliff in his struggle against McStarley.
- Steve Austin as Jack Conrad (United States) A former secret service operative who was arrested in El Salvador for blowing up a building controlled by drug dealers.
- Vinnie Jones as Ewan McStarley (United Kingdom) After four years as a British S.A.S operative and three "peace keeping" tours of Africa, he set fire to a Rwandan village, executed 17 men and raped 9 women. Additional counts charges of torture and mutilation landed him on death row.
- Masa Yamaguchi as Go Saiga (Japan) A political assassin by trade, Saiga failed to snipe a prominent Japanese lawmaker, but what landed him on death row was his revenge-inspired killings of 27 soldiers who had allegedly attacked and raped his girlfriend.
- Emelia Burns as Yasantwa Adei (Ghana) While traveling through Morocco, Yasantwa moonlighted as a drug runner until her dealers raped her. She fought back, allegedly torturing and murdering her attackers before getting caught and sentenced to death row.
- Manu Bennett as Paco Pacheco (Mexico) Along with his wife and fellow contestant Rosa, Paco was condemned to death row for murder and robbery. Paco had prior charges of grievous bodily harm and conspiracy.
- Marcus Johnson as Kreston Mackie (United States) He escaped from prison in 2002 and fled to Malaysia. While there, he set up a shop dealing hash and fell in love with a native girl. When she got busted for possession of drugs, she turned him over in exchange for a lighter sentence.
- Dasi Ruz as Rosa Pacheco (Mexico) Paco's wife was part of the duo's merciless killing spree, landing her, with her husband, on death row. Her rap sheet also included charges of prostitution.
- Nathan Jones as Petr Raudsep (Estonia) Also known as "The Russian", he stands 6 feet 10 inches (2.08 m) and weighs 340 pounds (150 kg). A killing machine who is described as a "violent murderer convicted for numerous heinous crimes".
- Andy McPhee as Helmut Bruggerman (Germany) Helmut was sentenced to death for crimes that include murder, rape, hate crimes and assault.
- Rai Fazio as Dominic Giangrasso (Italy) Suspected by authorities to be responsible for the bombing of an Italian nightclub, Dominic was eventually charged and sentenced to death for the murders of eight local men over a period of eight months.
- Rick Hoffman as Goldman
- Robert Mammone as Ian Breckel
- Tory Mussett as Julie
- Christopher Baker as Eddie C
- Sam Healy as Bella
- Madeleine West as Sarah Cavanaugh
- Luke Pegler as Baxter
- Angie Milliken as Donna Sereno
On one of the two DVD audio commentary tracks, Steve Austin notes that he was originally supposed to be playing the villain role of Ewan McStarley (played by Vinnie Jones) and that the role of Jack Conrad was supposed to be played by one of two stars from Hollywood that Steve chose not to mention.
The soundtrack for The Condemned was released on April 24, 2007 exclusively on the iTunes Store.
- "Unbreakable" - Cage9
- "Over & Under" - Egypt Central
- "I Won't Do What You Tell Me (Josh Wink remix)" - Jim Johnston and Josh Wink
- "Black Betty" - Spiderbait
- "You Say" - Aya Peard
- "Umbrella" - Chimaira
- "Souljacker part I" - Eels
- "This Colorful World" - Eliot Morris
- "Opening Titles (Score)" - Graeme Revell
- "The Island and Conrad (Score)" - Graeme Revell
- "Hands of Time" - Groove Armada
- "To Be Young (is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)" - Ryan Adams
- "Casino (Solid State remix)" - Tommi Eckhardt
- "Savin' Me" - Nickelback
Additional tracks Other songs featured in the film, but not included on the soundtrack:
- "You Don't Know" by Eminem, 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks & Cashis
- "Lonely Train" by Black Stone Cherry
- "In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins
- "Out of Line" by Buckcherry
- "Backwoods Gold" by Black Stone Cherry
- "Driven" by Sevendust
- "Bullet With a Name" by Nonpoint
- "Shooting Star" by Black Stone Cherry
- "Soulcrusher" by Operator
- "Firestarter" by The Prodigy
The critical response to the film was overwhelmingly negative. Rotten Tomatoes lists the film with a 16% rating, registering 15 "fresh" reviews out of 95, while Metacritic gives the film a 23% rating. Complaints against The Condemned included accusations of plot holes, overly preachy tone, and massive amounts of violence untempered by comic relief, irony, or plot progression.
V.A. Musetto of the New York Post (considered a "top critic" by Rotten Tomatoes) gave the film zero stars out of four, describing it as a "sickeningly violent and inane movie" and complaining that it is a bad rip-off of Battle Royale and The Most Dangerous Game.
One of the few positive reviews came from Michael Booth the Denver Post. He described the concept as "The Truman Show meets Con Air" and makes positive notes the reality television aspects of the story, although he cautions readers not to expect "high art" based on the 3 star rating he gives the film.
The US$37 million budgeted film failed at the box office, by most reasonable standards for such calculation. It debuted with a $3.8 million opening weekend in the US. The film lasted only 4 weeks in theaters and closed with a total of $7,371,706.
On September 18, 2007, The Condemned was released on DVD and Blu-ray. Opening at no.4, The Condemned brought in $6,520,918 in the first week. Overall, it sold an estimated 1,175,297 units earning $22,545,356, more than 200% it's box office gross.
The Condemned was released in Australia on January 4, 2008, with an MA15+ rating (Strong Violence, Strong Coarse Language). It was released in New Zealand DVD in February 2008 with an R18 rating (Contains Violence and Offensive Language). The DVD made its release in the United Kingdom on March 24, 2008 with a rating of 18 (Contains Strong Violence and Language). This was a straight to DVD release to the United Kingdom.