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The Contender (2000)

Joan Allen , Jeff Bridges , Rod Lurie  |  R |  DVD
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (200 customer reviews)

Price: $13.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Joan Allen, Jeff Bridges, Sam Elliott, Philip Baker Hall, Kathryn Morris
  • Directors: Rod Lurie
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Dreamworks Video
  • DVD Release Date: March 6, 2001
  • Run Time: 126 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (200 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00003CXP7
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,873 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Contender" on IMDb

Special Features

  • "HBO First Look" Making Of
  • Deleted Footage

Editorial Reviews

Additional Features

Many Hollywood directors should follow Rod Lurie's lead and invite their stars to do the DVD commentary. Oscar nominee Joan Allan joins Lurie, turning the commentary track into an enjoyable conversation. It tends to be a lovefest at times but does give insight into the relationship between a lead actor and director during filmmaking. Over the end credits, Lurie mentions the brouhaha that actor (and producer) Gary Oldman started when he made discouraging comments about the film's final cut. It's interesting to note none of Oldman's work ends up in the dozen deleted scenes shown on the DVD. The scenes have much more meat on the bone than most and illustrate some curious character development. The half-hour making-of featurette has the standard press-kit materials but also gives us a good background on the history of political thrillers. --Doug Thomas

Product Description

When the truth becomes a weapon, power comes at a stunning price. Gary Oldman, Joan Allen, Jeff Bridges and Christian Slater deliver electrifying performances in this controversial, suspenseful and critically-acclaimed thriller that Ebert & Roeper and the Movies call "exciting and unusually intelligent, two very enthusiastic thumbs up!" Sometimes you can assassinate a leader without firing a shot.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
I must admit from the onset that I am not one to sit down and write reviews here. But after reading some of the reviews, I feel compelled to write one of "The Contender."

Others have done an excellent job of providing a plot summary, so I will spare you the repetition. I want to address some of the reviews that have bashed the movie for being "totally unrealistic" or "biased," especially those who explicitly state their "liberal" leanings.

First, "The Contender" makes no claims to be "objective," nor should the movie be judged by a "realisitic" litmus test. Yes, the movie is polemical. It makes no bones about its leanings. Personally, I don't think this should be grounds for dismissing the movie. I found the movie incredibly refreshing for 1) providing a critical, and cutting, progressive critique of the "culture wars" that dominate so much of our public, political discourse; 2) by not being limited by the demands of being "realistic," "The Contender" gives us a glimpse of the possibility of public discourse, grounded in the SPIRIT of the US Constitution and representative democracy. Too often political thrillers limit themselves to the intrigue of negotiating and manipulating the strings of bureaucratic power within the terms of that power. By contrast, "The Contender" asks "what if?" That is, what would it look like for someone to act on an ethical basis? What would it mean to stand on principle?

When I first watched "The Contender," I didn't really know the details of the movie, and was frankly looking for something that would be fun to watch. I love the genre of political thrillers, but I also don't expect much beyond the demands of the genre (Patterson and Grisham have really dominated how political thrillers are brought to the screen).
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Would that politics were that way. January 30, 2010
I'm amazed at people who found this film shallow and vulgar. That my in-laws might not like the language used, well, I'm sorry, but that's life.

And as to "shallow," I agree that's an adequate description for the short-lived television series by the same writer, Commander in Chief. But I liked this script, found it a classic.

The film starts with a governor, apparent vice president candidate, a position the country had apparently been without for a few weeks. A car flies off a bridge and the governor who was fishing under the bridge tries to help the car's driver. Unfortunately, the driver dies. Then, onto the president's (Jeff Bridges) office. He can't offer the governor the vice presidency.

The president eventually chooses a woman senator, portrayed by Joan Allen.

The presiden't rival in the prior election was Sheldon Runyon, masterfully portrayed by Gary Oldman, who was also the exec. producer of the film. Runyon is rurthless in his pursuit of dirt on Senator Hanson (Allen).

I won't re-cover what other reviewers have doubtless said many times. But what I found moving about the script was that Hanson, while she knew it would be to her advantage, refused to indulge in the same tactics used by Runyon and his lieutenants.

There are, of course, feminists who will say that "That's the way it would be if there were a woman candidate." Notwithstanding Senator Clinton's record as being pretty strong-willed herself, my objection to such an assertion is that beyond doubt the worst boss I ever had was a woman. So I know what women are capable of. The point is that CANDIDATE wouldn't settle for those completely unethical tactics.

Would that happen in real life? I doubt it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Contender March 21, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is one of the best movies I have ever seen. I had seen it before, LOVED IT, and had become frustrated at how difficult it is either to rent or buy in video stores. So, I decided to see if I could find it on Amazon, and have loved having it ever since. I watch it occasionally for my own enjoyment, but I think I like even more, lending it out for others to see! It just tells the story of integrity and the kind of self-respect for which none of needs to answer to anybody else like few stories can. I wish reality mimmicked fiction more often!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This deck is stacked September 7, 2013
"The Contender" is another in a long line of polemical political movies that steamrolls over any chance the audience has for a legitimate suspension of disbelief.

Our sympathies are supposed to lie with the President, a bullying, strident man whose sole occupation seems to be trying to stump his cooks with an odd lunch request. He doesn't seem to have any political vision outside of going out in a burst of glory. The burst of glory is represented here by Joan Allen's character who is unbelievably unlikable. So what if she is an athiest. Such a position should be applauded. (I ask you, in what dimension would Congress confirm a devout athiest?). She stole the husband of her best friend. But we are asked to see that as a minor character flaw having no weight in any confirmation hearing. She does apologize, but only because it is politically expedient for her to do so. "It's not as though I am an adultress!" she self-righteously exclaims. No. She is a disloyal homewrecker. Of course, we in the audience are asked to forgive such lapses - after all what do questions of character have to do with politicians? I don't know about what others think, but one's character is a reflection of one's principles and her principles are, at best, dubious.

Gary Oldman plays a senator bitterly opposed to Laine being confirmed as Vice-President. Where in the name of all that's holy did they come up with the wig he (barely) wears? As far as the film is concerned, he has no right to get in the way of the President. At one point Bridges asks Oldman how he dares get in his Eminence's way. Oh, I don't know Mr. President, I thought that in this country people could oppose their President's views without being termed corrupt.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Movies do not reflect the real world
Make believe story of politics in America, only the women characters have character. Business as usual in Washington D.C .Amen.
Published 10 days ago by Tim Bean
3.0 out of 5 stars The contender
A movie about polotics with a lot of good actors,acting good. Clearly shows how our government works behind close doors. Read more
Published 2 months ago by robert
5.0 out of 5 stars For Our Daughters.....
Whether you like the movie or hate it, the message is very, very's time for the double standards to die. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Sage
5.0 out of 5 stars OUTSTANDING
This movie is so good that even though I had seen it multiple times already when it was first released, and even owned a copy on VHS format, I chose to buy it on DVD so that it... Read more
Published 3 months ago by NANI
5.0 out of 5 stars Good political movie
I originally purchased this because my favorite actor is in it, I was surprised to enjoy the whole story, political thriller
Published 3 months ago by T. Kingsbury
3.0 out of 5 stars High-level politics and aspirations
The Contender is a portrait of the customs of the contemporary political set. It is full of implied meanings (have a shark sandwich) and innuendos. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Maria C.
5.0 out of 5 stars Joan Allen in 'The Contender'
This is one of my all time favorite movies promoting women to the highest level of government! if only the rest of us could choose words as carefully and speak so intelligently on... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Barbara Adwers
1.0 out of 5 stars The silly,self congratulating B.S that liberals love ...
,,, so barry o announces to michelle " Gosh hon',I've had a really hard day on the links and all that lying at the microphone has me all tuckered out. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Wolf Ricketts
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful movie!
I've watched this movie many times and it always amazes me. It's my favorite movie ever! I watch it over and over.
Published 7 months ago by martha e. wainscott
5.0 out of 5 stars the prequel to Kevin Spacey's House of Cards
Kevin Spacey's House of Cards didn't feel like it had anything to do with the British original but the Contender absolutely feels like the foundation for the American Francis... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Dwight
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