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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

Directed by Rod Lurie
USA 2000

 

Sometimes you can assassinate a leader without firing a shot. 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. Sometimes you can assassinate a leader without firing a shot.

***

President Evans (Bridges) needs to appoint a new VP. Aware of the importance of the women's vote, he favours Democrat Senator Hanson (Allen) over Governor Hathaway (Petersen), recently in the news as a heroic would-be lifesaver and himself preferred by Republican congressman Runyon (Oldman). Investigating Hanson's suitability, Runyon obtains photos suggestive of a sexually scandalous past; but insisting on her right to privacy, she refuses to dignify the charge with a denial, thereby setting the scene for all manner of mud-slinging, murky deals and Machiavellian scheming. In the final reels story and characters start turning somersaults so that Hanson and Evans suddenly end up too good to be true, with Runyon a mere villain. This facile endorsement of Clintonian peccadillos is emphasized by some awful sermonizing and an embarrassingly heroic score. Until then, however, the performances by a superb cast are uniformly terrific, and the writing is mostly sharp, witty and admirably skeptical about the maneuvering on all sides.

Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: September 10th, 2000

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Review: Imprint - Region FREE - Blu-ray

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Bonus Captures:

Distribution Imprint - Region FREE - Blu-ray
Runtime 2:06:38.340        
Video

1.78:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 41,327,010,370 bytes

Feature: 29,746,053,120 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate Blu-ray:

Audio

DTS-HD Master Audio English 2134 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 2134 kbps / 16-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 16-bit)
LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit
Commentary:

LPCM Audio English 1536 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 1536 kbps / 16-bit

Subtitles English (SDH), None
Features Release Information:
Studio:
Imprint

 

1.78:1 1080P Dual-layered Blu-ray

Disc Size: 41,327,010,370 bytes

Feature: 29,746,053,120 bytes

Video Bitrate: 23.99 Mbps

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Edition Details:

• Audio commentary with writer/director Rod Lurie and actress Joan Allen
• Deleted scenes (with optional audio commentary by writer/director Rod Lurie) (15:58)
• The Making of a Political Thriller – behind-the-scenes featurette (21:51)
• Interview with actress Joan Allen (12:46)
• TV Spots (1:04)
• Theatrical Trailer (2:29)
Limited Edition slipcase on the first 1500 copies with unique artwork


Blu-ray Release Date: June 3rd, 2022

Transparent Blu-ray Case inside slipcase

Chapters 12

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

ADDITION: Imprint Blu-ray (May 2022): Imprint have transferred Rod Lurie's The Contender to Blu-ray. This 1.78:1 transfer doesn't appear to be from a new or restored scan. It looks reasonably bland on a dual-layered disc with a middling bitrate. It's a notch up from SD - only moderately in contrast and color depth via this 1080P and generally unremarkable in terms of the HD image.

NOTE: We have added 58 more large resolution Blu-ray captures (in lossless PNG format) for DVDBeaver Patrons HERE

On their Blu-ray, Imprint use a DTS-HD Master 5.1 surround track (16-bit) in the original English language. The Contender is a fairly passive film audio-wise, and there aren't many distinguishing separations here. It's clean and consistent with music credited to Larry Groupι (who has composed most for shorts, documentaries and some TV work), sounding subtle in supporting the film. What I did like was the opening that had June Carter Cash's Ring Of Fire performed rock-a-billy by Jeff Bridges and Kim Carnes and there are inspirational classical pieces; Ebben, Ne Andro Lontana From 'La Wally' performed by Miriam Gauci and Brussels Philharmonic (as the BRT Philharmonic Brussels) plus the Minuet From Don Giovanni and Chopin's Polonaise Op. 26, No 1 performed by pianist Bruce Donnelly. It sounds very good if not convincingly dynamic. Imprint offer optional English subtitles (see sample below) on their Region FREE Blu-ray.

The Imprint Blu-ray offers supplements. It ports the extras over from the 2001 DVD with the commentary by writer/director Rod Lurie and lead Joan Allen recorded together. Lurie has the most to say with some keen details on production and the usual complimentary anecdotes of the strong cast. “The Making of a Political Thriller” runs over 21-minutes and has a variety of interviews with the principals but is fairly common without much depth. There are also 16-minutes of deleted scenes - 10 of them - with optional commentary from director Lurie. These include more scenes with Bridges and Philip Baker Hall among others. Lurie describes why theses particular scenes were excluded - as they not reflect intended themes of principles and leadership. Additionally is an interview with actress Joan Allen for about a dozen minutes - she's quite gracious - and lastly are two TV Spots and a theatrical trailer. The packages has a limited edition slipcase on the first 1500 copies.

I was very keen on Rod Lurie's The Contender the last time I watched it - close to two decades ago. I was also anxious to see it, finally, come to Blu-ray. Unfortunately, the film rings a bit hollow in these times - more a fantasy - about aspiring politicians with nobility. I am told that it served as a response to President Bill Clinton's Lewinsky scandal. The Contender had changes that Gary Oldman (Sheldon Runyon in the film) - who also co-produced - openly denounced. The speeches aren't as compelling but the performances are very worthy from Oldman, Joan Allen, Jeff Bridges and Christian Slater with support from Sam Elliott, William Petersen, Saul Rubinek, and Philip Baker Hall. The Contender is still an extremely well-realized film and decent-thriller, if I found 'dated' by my older jaded attitude. It has finally reached 1080P and many will appreciate this handsome package regardless of a lackluster video transfer that handily beats SD.  

Gary Tooze

 


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