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The Contender (2000)

Joan Allen , Jeff Bridges , Rod Lurie  |  R |  DVD
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (208 customer reviews)

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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: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (208 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00003CXP7
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #37,784 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
33 of 39 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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8 of 9 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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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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
For 14 months in 1963-65, the United States had no Vice President. Some members of Congress, chief among them Sen. Birch Bayh, believed that this situation (which had occurred several times earlier in our history) was intolerable considering the necessity of a clear chain of command in the nuclear age. Their ideas were eventually codified as the 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, providing (among other things) a procedure for filling a vacancy in the office of Vice President. The process was utilized only twice, both times in the first 10 years after its ratification.

The Contender tells the story of the fictional "next time" that the office of Veep needs to be filled. We never see the Vice President. Jeff Bridges plays the President, Sam Elliott (without mustache!!) plays the Chief of Staff, Joan Allen and William Petersen play competing suitors for the nomination, Gary Oldman plays a major leader of the opposition party, and Mariel Hemingway plays a witness before a Congressional committee.

I listed those names for a reason: These are skilled, seasoned performers. Acting, to all of them, is really a craft. It is a pleasure to watch them work. Some of them (Allen, Oldman) inhabit their characters so completely that they may be giving their best performances in any film; Hemingway is good for perhaps the first time. They have some great, highly theatrical scenes here: the Oval Office meetings, the official and unofficial working meals, the time-limited appointments in Members' offices, the high-level discussions in cars, helicopters, and private homes.

The problem with the film is that the director/writer is NOT a skilled and seasoned craftsperson.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 7 days ago by Lee
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent condition - just as advertised
Fast shipping, excellent condition - just as advertised! GREAT!
Published 13 days ago by Pattie
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 20 days ago by Lisa Cornblatt
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic
One of those films that captures the complexity and grittyness of national politics. Joan Allen never disappoints!
Published 20 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Good ol' political Mud-Slinging!
If your not up on politics, watch this flic and see how down & dirty these people can get..especially if they don't like you(in this particular case, because it's a woman)but the... Read more
Published 22 days ago by Al Filizzola
5.0 out of 5 stars Sexism Falls
4 1/2 stars I started this movie thinking 3 stars might be to many. The info on the TV basically said a college incident causes problems for a female politician. Read more
Published 28 days ago by Ron Mathews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I love the movie but was unable to watch the rental as something is wrong with my computer.
Published 1 month ago by Katbird
5.0 out of 5 stars Political satire at its best
Joan Allen was a surprise for me in this role and how she handled it. She is a perfect partner with Jeff Bridges. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Gail Kessler
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
Stellar cast. Jeff Bridges nearly steals the screen from Gary Oldman who gives his usual brilliant performance in this powerful, political thriller. Watch it for the great acting. Read more
Published 4 months ago by L. M. Butler
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 4 months ago by Tim Bean
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