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The Contender (2000)

Joan Allen , Jeff Bridges , Rod Lurie  |  R |  DVD
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (345 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Joan Allen, Jeff Bridges, Sam Elliott, Philip Baker Hall, Kathryn Morris
  • Directors: Rod Lurie
  • Format: Multiple Formats, 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: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (345 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00003CXP7
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,697 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

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.

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

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 51 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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11 of 13 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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9 of 11 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars ... most part I am a liberal democrat I really enjoyed this movie
I suppose because for the most part I am a liberal democrat I really enjoyed this movie, two of my friends have watched and agreed. Read more
Published 9 hours ago by John Anderson
1.0 out of 5 stars ... is from author point of view to make you like Senator Hanson
I feel it is from author point of view to make you like Senator Hanson. That is what I not like about. You can feel what it want to believe, to think. not judging by the fact. Read more
Published 15 hours ago by lin wang
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
well done , many twists to the story
Published 18 hours ago by Ron Porter
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent Drama w/ message about character qualities
Star Clad Movies - incredible performances by all. Keeps your attention, pay attention to the nuances! Intelligent Drama w/ message about character qualities. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Critical Reviewer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great cast, loved this movie.
Published 1 day ago by john a mariconda
4.0 out of 5 stars Bridges and Allen were just terrific.
Oldman, Bridges and Allen were just terrific.
Published 1 day ago by RTC
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Shallow, manipulative, formulaic made-for-TV quality.
Published 1 day ago by Mark A. Boada
2.0 out of 5 stars Looking at the cast I was expecting a better performance. The...
Looking at the cast I was expecting a better performance. The opportunities for suspense and intrigue were numerous. Sadly, the director took advantage of none of them. Read more
Published 1 day ago by Senor De Ponce
4.0 out of 5 stars Important to remind ourselves the price of integrity as we ...
Important to remind ourselves the price of integrity as we move forward into our next elections and soon toward electing our first female president.
Published 2 days ago by axelgreaser
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Interesting plot. Kept your interest through out movie.
Published 2 days ago by pedigru
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