» » Серия 7: Претенденты (2001)

Серия 7: Претенденты (2001) Online HD

Series 7: The Contenders
Серия 7: Претенденты (2001)
Movie
  • Director:
    Daniel Minahan
  • Category:
  • Writer:
    Daniel Minahan
  • Cast:
    Brooke Smith,Marylouise Burke,Mark Woodbury
  • Time:
    1h 26min
  • Year:
    2001
Ever seen the show "Survivor" and wished they would just start killing each other?? Series 7 literally gives its contestants the guns. The film is not merely a satire on reality TV. It is an example of just how far people will shamelessly go for fame. 6 contenders are pitted against each other in a no holds barred, kill or be killed contest. The reigning champ is Dawn, a hard-nosed, mother-to-be. We go back and forth between Dawn and the other 5 contenders to see if someone can dethrone Dawn and become the new Champion. What is the prize? How are the contestants picked? These questions are not as important as asking yourself how shameless has our society become?
Casts
Cast overview, first billed only:
Brooke Smith Brooke Smith - Dawn
Mark Woodbury Mark Woodbury - Dairy Mart Clerk
Michael Kaycheck Michael Kaycheck - Tony
Marylouise Burke Marylouise Burke - Connie
Richard Venture Richard Venture - Franklin
Donna Hanover Donna Hanover - Sheila
Merritt Wever Merritt Wever - Lindsay
Glenn Fitzgerald Glenn Fitzgerald - Jeff
Angelina Phillips Angelina Phillips - Doria
Tom Gilroy Tom Gilroy - Dawn's Cameraman
Nada Despotovich Nada Despotovich - Michelle
Stephen Michael Rinaldi Stephen Michael Rinaldi - Craig
Alex Yershov Alex Yershov - Nathan
Danton Stone Danton Stone - Bob
Joe Barrett Joe Barrett - Doctor

Серия 7: Претенденты (2001)

While it premiered months after the TV series Последний герой (2000) and Большой брат (2000), the project predates both shows. The concept for the movie was originally pitched as a TV series in 1998.

Writer/Director Daniel Minahan's childhood friend, Dawn Lagarto, is given a "Special Thanks" credit. He originally wrote the story using her name for the main character. When it came time to start filming the producers had legal concerns regarding the use of a real person's name, but actress Brooke Smith felt an affinity for the name and wanted to retain it for her character. Minahan called the real Dawn Lagarto and got her blessing to use the name. The real Dawn Lagarto is not an unwed mother, has never participated in a reality TV series, and has never killed anyone.

The film was originally conceived as a weekly television show.

The idea for this project came to Daniel Minahan after he worked for a reality TV show.

Having seen her work in an off-Broadway production, director Daniel Minahan wrote the part of Dawn specifically for Brooke Smith.

Shot over a period of 21 days.

snowball
snowball
Fans of `reality' TV are going to love this one, and even those whose tastes run contrary to such offerings are going to find this indie film a riveting experience. Like `Survivor,' the name of the game here is, well...survival; but with one significant difference from any of the shows you've seen on television: The winner in `Series 7, The Contenders,' written and directed by Daniel Minahan, will be the only one from among the contestants still standing at the end of the show, meaning `alive.' Yes, that's right, the object of the game here is to eliminate the opposition, as in `kill' them-- by whatever method available. Guns, knives, bombs, blunt instruments, anything goes; whatever it takes to do in the other guy (or gal). And it ain't over till it's over, which means when five are dead, and only one remains.

Of the six in contention this week, the returning champion, with ten kills to her credit, is 30ish Dawn Lagarto (Brooke Smith), who also happens to be eight months pregnant. She'll be pitted against Connie Trabucco (Marylouise Burke), a nurse; Tony Reilly (Michael Kaycheck) a husband and father of three; Franklin James (Richard Venture), the oldest of the bunch; teen Lindsay Berns (Merritt Wever); and finally, Jeffrey Norman (Glenn Fitzgerald), an ex-boyfriend of Dawn's, who has his own reasons for being in the game. And so it begins; and the question now is, of the six, which will become the hunters, and which the hunted? Does Dawn stand a chance of putting five more notches on her scorecard? Or this week, will one of the other five prevail, and walk away with the cash? Or, more notably, be the `one' who is able to do so.

It was inevitable that this film-- or one like it-- would be made, given the way television has been saturated with `reality,' the past few years. And since it had to happen, at least it was born of, evolved and guided by the artistic capabilities of Minahan, who has crafted and delivered a gripping, thought provoking satire that reaches it's apex of effectiveness hours, or even days, after the film has ended; because for anyone with any scruples at all, this film will linger in the memory like a phosphene caused by rubbing the eye, and it'll take that long to even begin to sort out the myriad implications of it all. The obvious question/message of the film is, of course, just how far should/could/can society go in this direction before realizing the consequences of the moral turpitude `reality' shows must necessarily embrace to be successful. Minahan does not moralize overtly, however; rather, he very subtly plants the suggestion of what the next step in real life may be within the matter-of-fact presentation and context of his story. And he does it with such precision that it is not until much later that the full impact of it hits you, and it's then that you understand how extremely appalling and depraved the concept is when extrapolated to the nth degree, as Minahan so aptly illustrates here.

Minahan's approach may be more clever than imaginative, as his film plays out as if it were lifted from the negative of `Survivor' or one of it's clones. But it's cleverness at it's best. A film cannot seem this true-to-life and entirely natural without a lot of hard work that includes technical knowledge, an eye for detail and an impressive grasp of human nature; Minahan didn't just walk onto the set one day and crank out such an accurate duplication of a `reality' show. It begins with the astute insights Minahan weaves so incisively throughout his screenplay, and culminates in the way he translated it all to the screen. Watching this film is something akin to watching Jim Carrey early in his career doing Henry Fonda, or Kevin Spacey doing Christopher Walken or Pacino; it's the kind of professional impersonation/interpretation that just doesn't get any better.

What makes it so enthralling is that Minahan so succinctly captures that documentary look and feel of what has become a `genre' of television, and like the best of them, he lets you get to know the contestants-- through interviews and `mini-bios'-- before the bloodbath begins, so that you can pick your favorites and put your money on the one you think has what it takes to win. He creates a genuine `sporting event' atmosphere, which works at the time-- it puts you in the moment and draws you into the action-- but in retrospect, it makes all that has transpired and everything you've witnessed seem even more disconcerting (which is, of course, the idea). And you realize, finally, that you've been duped into accepting the unacceptable, and moreover, made to believe by some perverse rationalization of thought that it was all right; which in itself is a keen observation of the power of the medium through which it is proffered.

To make the `reality' convincing, the performances, of course, had to be convincing; and they are. Minahan extracts precisely what was needed from his actors to really sell the show, beginning with Brooke Smith's portrayal of Dawn. This is the central character of the film, so it was imperative that she be especially believable, and Smith pulls it off beautifully. As you watch her, you never get the feeling that you're watching an actor; in keeping with the documentary feel of the film, this is Dawn, a young, pregnant woman involved in a game of killing for cash. it's a solid performance, the kind of which is often overlooked or taken for granted precisely because it is so natural.

The supporting cast includes Donna Hanover (Sheila), Angelina Phillips (Doria), Nada Despotovich (Michelle) and Alex Yershov (Nathan). To call this film pure entertainment would be wrong; to call `Series 7, The Contenders' an entertaining indictment against moral sense and sensibility, however, would be accurate. It's one that's definitely going to make you stop and think; and consider. 7/10.
Kriau
Kriau
These days it is difficult to satirize reality TV and reality video because material like THE LITTLEST GROOM, THE AMAZING RACE, BOOT CAMP, SURVIVOR and BUMFIGHTS already exist.

SERIES 7: THE CONTENDERS is an ultra-efficient rendering of the imagined next step in reality programming in which "contenders" must kill in order to survive.

To their credit, the filmmakers never step outside the game itself.

Clever graphics, voice-overs and reality-style camera-work achieve a high level of illusion. The "contenders" themselves are well characterized and we get to understand the complexities that drive them.

As entertainment SERIES 7 is seductive and exciting. As satire it is sharp and black as pitch.
Bluddefender
Bluddefender
SERIES 7: THE CONTENDERS is both a taut thriller and a deft satire on the outlandish lengths TV networks will go to in order to lure viewers. Set in the near future, SERIES 7 is cleverly constructed as a marathon of seventh-season episodes of "The Contenders," a hit reality show in which contestants are selected via state lotteries and given guns with which they're expected to hunt down and kill their fellow contestants (although they're free to use their own weapons and be inventive). The object: to stay alive. The prize: whoever remains alive after 3 Contenders seasons wins his/her freedom from the high-rated program/ordeal. The champ is Dawn Lagarto (Brooke Smith of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS), a pregnant, troubled but essentially decent drifter. Trapped in the program for the past two seasons, Dawn's reluctantly willed herself into becoming a frighteningly efficient killing machine to keep herself and her unborn baby alive. For her third and final season, "The Contenders" sends Dawn to her hometown of Newbury, Connecticut. Her fellow contestants/adversaries include prim but ruthless ER nurse Connie (Marylouise Burke of MUST LOVE DOGS and A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION); teenage Lindsay, whose well-meaning but overbearing parents (Mom is played by Donna Hanover, TV personality and Rudy Giuliani's ex!) coach her for the show as if she were trying out for an athletic competition; unemployed asbestos-removal worker Tony, who's trying to use this cruel TV twist of fate to unite his family; crazed conspiracy theorist Franklin; and Jeff, an artist who's dying of testicular cancer -- and who also happens to be Dawn's high school sweetheart. The lingering flames of love and resentment between these two, and the reactions of Jeff's long-suffering wife, provide the film's most poignant and suspenseful moments, as well as one of its funniest: clips of the low-budget student film they made in high school, including every 1980s video cliché imaginable and Joy Division's technodirge "Love Will Tear Us Apart" on the soundtrack. SERIES 7's authentically television-like feel is augmented by its story being told entirely through such TV conventions as bumpers, interviews, voiceovers, cutaway footage, dramatic re-enactments of events by doubles, and exciting tag lines ("Real people...in real danger...in a fight for their lives!"). We even meet most of the characters as they're notified of their selection for "The Contenders" on-camera, as the show's masked, armed minions come to the new contestants' homes like sinister Publishers Clearing House representatives. These TV gimmicks create deliciously satirical overtones in and of themselves, and yet the movie's irony and gallows humor works precisely because it's all played absolutely straight, not with the "nudge nudge wink wink" air that too many recent thrillers have overdone in their attempts to be edgy and postmodern. But the film's brilliant craftsmanship wouldn't be nearly as effective without the power of the fine cast's performances, particularly Brooke Smith; her riveting performance makes Dawn the emotional center of SERIES 7: THE CONTENDERS. That said, the film also chillingly portrays the way fear and self-preservation can turn even the most decent human being into a stone-cold killer. This sharp, smart, exhilarating thriller works on so many levels, and it's got one of the niftiest twist endings in ages, too! Somehow, I suspect it's only a matter of time before a real-life reality show figures out a way to go this far... :-)
Taun
Taun
I don't know about you but I'm pretty much 'realitied' out. If I see another behind the scenes, fly on the wall or real people confined to a televisual prison program I think I might well have to tear up my TV licence... and with Big Brother 7 (I think) on its way here in England that might well happen (although, now that I think of it, BB 7 might well end up sharing some unintentional similarities with Series 7 of the Contenders... more on this shortly).

To tell the truth, I have never liked any reality TV shows. Instead of showing you something positive they seem to rejoice in the negative and encourage only the worst sort of backstabbing, vindictive and childish behaviour we should be discouraging, rather than rewarding. Unfortunately the trend doesn't look to be slowing down any time soon and this is a very worrying possibility.

In recent years there has been a counteract against the reality TV boon, best personified cinematically in Battle Royale (which is close if not quite a reality TV satire) and, bang on the money, Series 7: the Contenders (henceforth Series 7). There are other voices of sanity out there, particularly in books (see Ben Elton's Dead Famous for a brilliant example), which seek to satirise reality television, but only the medium itself can really show us where the end will finally happen, television and real life of course...

Series 7 represents a logical step in reality TV. With audiences losing interest in physical and psychological hardship of volunteers, an alternative will have to be found. Therefore why not have a lottery based killing game where five people, along with a sixth champion of the previous game, must compete to slay each other within the limits of a small town in American. As I'm sure you can guess, this barbaric program has yet to be made but it is highly likely that television executives have thought long and hard about the possibilities... it wouldn't take a genius to think of the boost in ratings that, for example, Death Row inmates given a chance to win their freedom if they kill five of their fellow cons in some sort of last man standing style battle royal. Those men would all be scheduled to die anyway, so why not make it for entertainment rather than just justice...? Such a possibility, very fortunately, hasn't yet come to fruition, nor am I aware of any attempts to do so, but one only has to imagine such a show to see that it would be very possible to make it and, moral concerns aside, it really would sweep all before it for audience popularity.

Series 7 represents such a program to the nth degree and, very accurately, portrays the emotions a disparate group of the lottery 'winners' might feel upon being selected. I won't dwell on the film itself, simply because I don't want to spoil the humour and utterly spellbinding violence it creates, particularly the juxtaposition of both aspects... you find yourself giggling at an 8 month pregnant woman's attempts to psych out a 50 year old nurse, only to feel the laughter die in your throat as the same woman garrotes, drowns and shoots three people, amongst others, seconds later...

The closeness of Series 7 to the formats of other 'reality' shows is striking, from the hideous melodrama, 'I'm going to win' speeches and sad, pathetic individuals more needing sympathy and a bit of cash than the fame they crave. When this is held up alongside the same people brutally killing each other it makes for a very real and chilling portrayal of reality television, particularly in America though by no means limited to that country. These people don't have to fight. They don't have to kill each other. THey certainly don't have to put up with being videoed, attached to GPS monitors and hooked up to microphones 24/7. If it was me I'd blow the cameraman away and go from there... but these people obey the rules of the game, even though the show purports to have no rules, and hence are hostages in a very real sense.

This is best demonstrated by the subtle allusions to the fact that the game may well be fixed. By a staggeringly remote chance, Dawn (the pregnant woman) ends up face to face with a former school friend... one of the competitors claims the show is faked... one man suffers a 'self inflicted stab wound to the back' while fleeing... and footage of various situations disappears and must be 're-enacted' by actors. These are just some of the issues mentioned but, as we are supposedly watching the TV show rather than a film about the show, the details aren't explored, which is a place the film falls down a little. Other problems are the TV gimmicks, like sudden 'what will happen next?' montages every 10 minutes or so. Sure, this would happen on TV, but in a film (I saw this at the cinema) it gets quite annoying. However, these quibbles are mostly minor.

Anyone who is addicted to reality TV shows and people who genuinely despise them will find something here, although they might not like what they see. As for the Series 7 scenario...? Just how implausible do you think it is? I only ask because, in one of the series of Big Brother in Australia, one of the 'cast,' while making out with another member of the cast, asked her whether she was excited. When she gave her answer he then picked up a knife and held it to her throat.

'How about now?' he wondered. This man was subsequently taken out of the BB house but the question remains... how far will TV executives go with reality TV? Series 7: the Contenders shows us the depths to which it could stoop eerily accurately.
Hadadel
Hadadel
This movie is for people who like their comedies so black that the light from the screen can barely escape the film's gravitational pull.

Fortunately, I'm one of those people, and I found the film to be hilarious beyond my wildest dreams. The main thing that makes the movie's premise work is that the movie takes itself seriously. It's similar to Christopher Guest's mockumentary style in that the people in the movie are for the most part unaware of their own ridiculousness. Now, that being said the acting in the movie is excellent. There is very nice character development of the main characters, and Brooke Smith's character has to be the most appealing and interesting assassin I've seen on screen ever. Most importantly, the movie is presented exactly like a reality show which eventually draws the viewer into suspending their disbelief and accepting the ludicrous world these characters inhabit. Even the bad parts of reality shows are accurate, the narrator's overly dramatic voice, the cheesy melodramatic music to inject some false drama, the corny stock footage of the flying bird. It's all so accurate it's wickedly funny. It even parodies cop shows during a car chase. Finally, the icing on the cake is that as ridiculous as everything is, you realize that American society isn't too far off from this extreme today, and that gives the film the added bite of seriousness that propels it above being simply entertaining and makes it a true satire, This film is even more impressive considering the fact that the idea was conceived 5 years ago before the reality craze began.

I encourage people to watch Series 7 once, it's destined to become a cult classic. The last line of the movie is also laugh-out-loud funny.
Uanabimo
Uanabimo
Series 7: The Contenders, is a very twisted black comedy about six contestants on a reality show. The premise of the reality show is that the contestants are given weapons and have to murder each other in order to win. The contestants include a mentally insane man living in a trailer park, a cancer patient, a religious nurse, a high school teenager, a middle-aged father, and (the reigning champion) a pregnant woman. The film is structured as a marathon showing and is played as a series of episodes strung together each following these contestants. The film depicts these people as normal and everyday people who are forced into this terrible situation against their will, but the real meat of the film comes in when we get to learn about the histories of some of these characters. That's the point of the film where the film grows out of being a spoof of reality shows and begins to manifest into a social commentary. The high school teenager has parents who encourage her every step of the way and help her suit up for the murders that she is about to commit. The pregnant woman has been disowned by her own mother due to past incidents. The middle-aged parent has his own troubles at home. There's a lot more going on here than at first glance. This is an angry and dark satire that really challenges some of the concepts of reality and the satire of itself.

There's a lot here that I truly admire. For starters, the performances. They are pretty awful in a way that, at times, seems cringe-worthy. However, when you take a look at reality television shows such as Survivor and The Real World, the acting in those is even worse. It's supposed to be reality, yet the people in them are not believable. That's what makes reality television such a joke, and so in a roundabout way of saying things the performances here are good because the actors are good at capturing the melodramatic mannerisms of the contestants at large. I particularly enjoyed the performance of Brooke Smith as the pregnant woman. She is ridiculously cold and cruel and monstrous, and you can really feel the bitterness that she feels. Yet her mannerisms are so sarcastic and almost pathetic. The same goes for the rest of the cast, but Smith has a visual presence to her that I've always admired. She's a terrific actress. Nobody can forget her performance as the kidnapped victim in The Silence of the Lambs. I've seen some of her television work as well and she almost always sticks out in a good way. Merritt Wever and Glenn Fitzgerald do an equally good job as the teenage girl and the cancer patient, the former being the most likable person in the cast and the latter having all of the best lines and being the most interesting of all the characters.

My favorite thing about this film, however, has to be the momentum of it. Series 7: The Contenders is almost never boring and there's always something going on. It's virtually impossible to stop watching once you've started, even if you pick up in the middle of it. I think this was done intentionally. I think a lot of televisions shows have that same kind of watchability factor, and what I appreciated the most about this film is that there were no commercials that cut into the action. The satire of the film itself is simple and clever, but even if you put all that aside, you still have one hell of a captivating film. Putting the climax of the film aside, you do get to care about almost all these characters and you don't particularly want to see any of them die really.

If you want my personal opinion on the film, I cannot say that I like it too much. I don't personally find the film itself to be very funny. I like dark humor, but I thought that this was too sick, really, to be funny. I also really don't like the ending. It felt like I was being beaten over the head by the satire. I also find that the film itself isn't exactly re-watchable. Once you know how it all ends, you really don't have any desire to ever really sit down and watch it. There are films out there that are sick and that you never really WANT to watch again, but at the same time you feel you should and can't help but feel the need to sit through it, but Series 7: The Contenders plays all of it's cards in one sitting and as a result you really don't feel any desire to absorb any of it. It's more the type of film that you just appreciate rather than like and enjoy. I can imagine a lot of horror fan and readers of Fangoria would love it to pieces or at least get a huge kick out of watching it. In my opinion, as brilliant and as clever as it is, I definitely wouldn't advise mainstream moviegoers to watch this. I thought it was a brilliantly directed film in a lot of ways, and the satire was effective, but I can't exactly recommend it. I'm glad I saw it though.
Gralinda
Gralinda
This is the ultimate show of its kind - six people play a 'Survivor' game, but this is real survival - they will kill one another until only one survives. They are selected by chance, we have no clue why, and there seems to be no price. The only thing the winner earns is getting enrolled in another mortal round.

The formula works pretty well for the first half. Good, fast filming, credible acting, interesting characters. The problem is that by the second half the needed development of the characters does not happen, and for lack of anything else the script falls into previsible melodrama. It's a miss, but still the film is worth viewing, and it really says something about our sensation thirsty society.
invincible
invincible
This production could have been so much better. Spoiler Warning: if you haven't seen this or don't want it spoiled, stop reading here. This film is supposed to be three half-hour episodes of a reality-TV series stitched together in a marathon format, a la some of the "Cops" or "Real World" marathons that come around from time to time. This mock reality series called "The Contenders" or "Series 7" (or both?) involves 6 people, chosen at random by their "government numbers," who must kill the others in order to become the champion.

Mocking reality TV in this way could have been pretty high-concept stuff, but the execution failed to live up to the vision. The acting is so-so and the plot just doesn't seem to get there. It just sort of peters out at about 85%. The director didn't seem to be able to decide if he was going to mock reality TV, or if he was going to parody it, and that failure to decide is evident throughout. Either one would have been interesting, but the fence-straddling compromises the entire production. The director tried to include too many ideas, and at some point it just wears thin. Reality TV is such an easy mark -- even when this was still in production -- that a more subtle touch would have worked better. Frankly, for dystopian future television programs, "The Running Man" is a far more interesting and well-executed idealization, and less dated than one might think, given that it's sort of long in the tooth by now. "Delusions in Modern Primitivism" is a better mockumentary about how we are voyeurs to self-destruction.

Don't waste your time with Series 7: The Contenders. Watch "Network" or "Delusions" or "Running Man," any one of those is more satisfying.
Bodwyn
Bodwyn
This film is many things - an insight into the future of Reality TV - a very funny black comedy - and a touching story of people forced beyond the edge of reason.

Recommended if you love or hate Reality TV shows, the film is set as back to back episodes of series 7 of The Contenders, an American show where the current champion and five randomly selected challengers have to kill or be killed - and the winner gets to appear in the next series.

Proof, if proof were needed, that a good film with a good script does not need well-known actors to be a success.
Buridora
Buridora
I think that somewhere buried deep within this film is trying say that we're numbed to violence on TV and can't distinguish between reality and entertainment. But its not obvious, underneath the black humour of a pregnant woman shooting people in the head, or over protective parents watching their daughter being bludgeoned to death with a metal crutch. The ending is very disappointing, they just seem to run out of ideas. I expected more thought provoking input.
Xangeo
Xangeo
Biting satire on the whole overblown "real tv" frenzy, funny because you know that in the offices of a TV station somewhere in the world, some exectutive has had an idea like this for a TV show. Great effort for a first time filmmaker. Has all the usual "real TV" elements, tragedy, backstabbing, a heartwarming tale from someone's past, the quiet person who you should watch etc.

Highly entertaining 8/10
Gralsa
Gralsa
I had good expectations for this movie before watching it. Unfortunately, the plot is hugely flawed and fails to make a definitive statement.

The director fails to decide if the movie should be satirical or a series look at reality t.v taken to the nth degree. Obviously, no research was performed to form a consistent set of rules for the contenders. Seriously lacking is the background of the contenders and the motivation for even signing up. The result is a formless romp which actually has no basis in reality, thereby losing it's shock value and it's satirical pointedness.

Perhaps, one of the points of the movie was about formless violence, but even then, it failed to deliver. Other movies that demonstrate mindless violence has method within the madness. No such attempt was made to develop and construct rules for within.

The slight twist at the end was already predetermined. I sat through the whole movie thinking why don't they just "do it" already?

On a positive note, the performances by the actors were strong and convincing (with what little they had to work with).

Disappointing. Watch the first 20 minutes and the last 20 minutes. 4 out of 10.
Keth
Keth
`Reality TV' is founded on P T Barnum's famous dictum `Nobody went broke underestimating public taste.' `Series 7 – The Contenders' simply takes the idea to its extreme – a program where contestants hunt each other down, not in the wild, but in suburbia, the survivor being declared the winner (oddly, the only prize seems to be survival).

Obviously this is satire, and there are some genuinely funny moments, such as the parents of a teenage contestant urging their daughter on, as, armed with a rifle, she attempts to take care of an elderly opponent on a golf course. When the same girl, taking the gun into a shopping mall, is challenged by a security man, she says `its all right, I'm from The Contenders' and he lets her pass. The two main characters, Dawn (Brooke Smith) the champion from the last series and Jeffery (Glenn Fitzgerald), an opponent and former boyfriend, are sympathetically drawn. Dawn is pretty aggressive, but also eight months pregnant, and filled with emotion on returning to her home town. Jeffery, an artist, is suffering from testicular cancer, and though cared for by his devoted wife, wants to die. Needless to say, it becomes pretty hard for Dawn to pull the trigger on Jeffery when she gets the chance. The other contestants are not so sympathetically drawn, but they are by no means monsters, even if Connie the ER nurse with the deadly needle, goes to confession before stepping out to kill someone.

I formed the distinct impression that the contestants were not actually volunteers, being selected at random from something like the list of social security numbers. If that were the case, and I was selected, my first priority would be to wipe out the producers, not my fellow contestants. The Gladiators of ancient Rome were not volunteers of course, and perhaps that's the parallel the producers of the film seek to draw, or perhaps with the military draft for Vietnam.

Occasionally, reality TV makes good television, as in the case of the Australian `RPA' about the day to day workings of a large Sydney hospital. But the contrived ones, like `Survivor', `Boot Camp' and even the quiz show `The Weakest Link' depend on (vicarious) fear and humilation, not to mention voyeurism for their entertainment value. Freak shows such as `Springer' add loathing to the mix.

The director here (Daniel Minehan) does a good job of demonstrating just how nasty the premises are behind these sorts of shows but don't really sheet home the blame. I don't mind seeing a few of the high and mighty humiliated in public but I do object to ordinary mostly decent people being chewed up for entertainment purposes. Dawn and Jeffery deserve our sympathy, not our revulsion, a point the film makes reasonably well. It also illustrates that P T Barnum's dictum has lost none of its force.
Xirmiu
Xirmiu
Series 7: The Contenders (2001) is an absolute must for any film fan. The movie (shot on video) is a parody on Reality T.V. and game shows. Contestants are chosen at random and are given a side arm and a camera crew to follow their every move. The premise of the game is to survive! To pad out the show, the producers document the participates' lives and background. It's the highest rated show on T.V. !

What I enjoyed about this movie was the fact it comes off like a real television show. I love the concept of man hunting man. Ever since the Most Dangerous Game, filmmakers have been using this plot device for years. But like all plots a good writer and director are needed. In the hands of a mediocre filmmaker this movie would have come off as tripe. This has to be one of my favorite movies (of the 21st century). The D.V.D. is filled with a lot of cool features and it has a place amongst my collection.

Highly recommended!
Briciraz
Briciraz
The idea of televised human hunting comes from a short story called "The Prize of Peril" written by Robert Sheckley and published in 1958. Sheckley later wrote novels around the idea, the first of which ("The Tenth Victim") was made into a movie in 1965 - but it's that first short story, predating "The Truman Show" by forty years, that captures the flavour of reality TV as we know it today. It's not itself reality TV, of course. It's a short story. "The Truman Show", by far the best film to deal with reality TV, isn't itself reality TV either. It's a movie. "The Contenders" is different because it ISN'T a movie - at least, not a real movie. It's yet more reality TV footage, made at a time when we're drowning in the stuff, blown up onto 35mm prints and screened in cinemas.

That's ALL it is. It's important to be clear about this. Bram Stoker's "Dracula" consists of (fictional) diary entries, letters, case notes, newspaper clippings and so forth - but when you put the lot together, you find they make a novel. Some of Woody Allen's best efforts (like "Zelig" and "Sweet and Lowdown") consist entirely or in part of made-up "documentary" footage - but similarly, when you put all the pieces together, the result is a movie. No such transformation takes place here. If you put together segments and out-takes and alternate camera footage from an episode of "Temptation Island", you'd most likely end up with yet another episode of "Temptation Island"; nothing more. The only difference here is that the reality TV show in question is a fictional one.

Yes, this is satire, but that's the problem. It's the kind of lazy satire that feels it can get away with anything. If the characters are poorly defined, or the acting is less than convincing, or the camera angles, wrong or the storyline convoluted and overly sensational - no matter, it's all part of the joke. If anything else had gone wrong, THAT would have been part of the joke, too. There's no quality control.

I'll be the first to admit I liked some of the story ideas and that the film is far more competently made than, say, "The Blair Witch Project". But there's not a lot of point to reality TV without the reality.
Jek
Jek
Season 7 of the popular reality television show "The Contenders" returns with reigning champion Dawn Lagarto still dominant despite being heavily pregnant. This season sees five new contestants randomly selected by lottery for the game show. The rules are simple – each contestant is given a gun and a rifle as well as a choice of other weapons and protective gear. From this point they are separated from their families and joined by a camera crew who will shadow them throughout their time in the show. The winner? Well, whoever is left standing when the others are all dead wins their freedom and life.

I remember hearing about this show years ago when it came out but I had never seen it being shown anywhere until it popped up on late night television the other week. It is depressing but the film is actually more relevant now than it was then simply because reality shows have continued down the road that they were on when this was made. Of course it has not gone as far as murder-television but with celebs eating bugs, Big Brother causing protests in India and many other extremes it is hard not to appreciate the point the film is making here.

The strength of the film is that it accurately recreates the staples of the genre in the repetitive nature of clips, heavy voice-over use, trailers for coming next, interviews with the contestants and so on. Looking at the genre cynically you could say that the show also gets other things right – specifically the manipulation of footage, the way emotional interest in the contestants is falsely generated and of course the way that conflict and fighting is produced to keep the viewer interested. This aspect of it works well and it really does capture the look and feel of the genre, setting it up well to deliver a scathing attack on the genre from the inside.

Unfortunately it is here where it falls down somewhat because it is not as sharp or as clever as it would like to think. OK it does the genre as well as any reality show, but the ability to turn this on itself is lacking. Of course the idea appalled me as a viewer and that was the point – that the viewer would question the genre on the basis of this film, but I do not think it asks enough of the audience to make this happen. In fact, once you get over the concept, it can almost be watched as a reality show of sorts and I imagine fans of the genre could easily miss the point of the film – mainly because it doesn't make one that well. It will sound like a strange criticism but I do think that by hitting the genre spot on throughout the film, the result is that it is almost too "straight" to act as an attack at the same time. Instead it is just an exaggeration and it leaves the viewer to do the work.

The cast are OK, no really good performances but they certainly deliver the turns that convince within what I expect from the genre (and I write this as a guilty but unrepentant viewer of America's Next Top Model and a couple of other trashy shows). Smith, Burke, Venture, Wever and Fitzgerald all do well enough without ever threatening to be real characters. The only member of the cast that really stuck in my mind though was Arnett, who turns up in a small role – but he was memorable to me for being Gob in Arrested Development, not for what he did here! Overall then, this is a very convincing extreme version of reality television that remains topical due to the genre becoming more and more extreme and cruel, not the film itself hitting points well. However beyond this design and structure there is not a sharp criticism or message to be had and as a result there is not much of a message other than the obvious one about the path that reality TV is on and why cruelty or suffering of others should be acceptable as entertainment. Topical – but not as sharp or clever as one would have hoped it could have been.
Ximinon
Ximinon
I find all "reality" shows to be exceptionally tedious, and movies about "reality" shows even more so (Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen in "The Challenge"? Bor-ring). This movie, however, was pretty good. Basically, it's 5 people set loose on the streets of Danbury, CT (so close to home!), armed and dangerous (they're issued a 9mm semi-automatic pistol at the start of the show, but it's no-holds-barred from there), and licenced to kill...each other.

One of my favorite scenes was at the mall, where the contestants were all drawn by a phony note. The young girl "Lindsay Berns" (Merritt Wever) not only had her pistol, but an M-16 (semi-auto only), a 12-gauge pump-action shotgun *and* a bulletproof vest (a gift from her boyfriend). She winds up being beaten to death with a metal cane (*severe* head trauma), by the older guy, Franklin James (Richard Venture). He is then shot by Connie Trabucco (Marylouise Burke), who is wielding a sniper's rifle. You won't see *that* on "Big Brother" or "Survivor"!

Overall, very solid entertainment, even though it loses points by being a fake "reality" show (SEE: "Joe Schmoe", "Scare Tactics", etc.)...6/10.
Kekinos
Kekinos
A timely and excellent idea that unfortunately is completely scuppered by its execution. In these days of reality TV overkill it was perhaps inevitable that this film would turn up, and I couldn't wait to see it; it was an effort not to switch off after about half an hour.

To be successful a ‘reality' film has to look real. What this looks like is a cast of largely bad actors, pretending badly. Credibility therefore leaps straight out of the window. For reality films that work, watch Blair Witch or Man Bites Dog.
Mozel
Mozel
(pardon the pun) A sendup of the "reality" television that has been polluting our airwaves. The setup is, a half-dozen people have to kill each other until only one is left, all while being followed by a TV camera crew. This could have been much better than it actually turned out, but wooden performances and hackneyed scripting made this one fall flat on its face. I've seen better acting in junior-high stage productions. Maybe this was intentional. But the end result looks like something a bunch of untalented college kids produced for a film class.
Wenyost
Wenyost
I was flipping channels (mercifully) when I ran across this "drama". There were no Cynthia Rothrock movies on, and "The Omega Man" wasn't scheduled to start on TNT for another hour or so. The over-saturated video color and shaky sophomore student film project camera handling caught my attention. I knew this movie was supposed to be important, so I stopped flipping to check it out. Now, I know you're probably saying to yourself, this guy didn't even see the whole thing-how can he accurately comment on it? Well, because I've seen breast-augmentation formula infomercials with more sincerity. The script is so overwrought that it's impossible to tell if the actors are capable of acting at all. I especially feel bad for Brooke Smith, whom I believe appeared on the Rosie O'Donnell show to hype this flick. She delivered such a convincing pitch that I made a mental note to check it out as soon as I could. "Timecode" this is not. "Witness to the Execution" this is not. Though the basic premise could have been operable, writer-director Minahan's own voice emerges from the mouths of every character. The experience of watching "Series 7" is that of driving from point A to point B in a jalopy needing major repair-you find yourself just praying for the anxiety and embarrassment to end, whether you arrive at your destination or not.
Malann
Malann
Caught this last night on cable after missing it in the one theatre it played in for 2 weeks in Hollywood last year. A brilliant take-off on all the reality shows, it's presented in all its glory as a radically hardcore "Survivior" - the stakes are much higher in this 'game show'; it's literally life and death. A truly brilliant satire, true to itself til the bloody end.
Simple
Simple
I was finally able to find a copy to rent for this film at Blockbuster. I wondered why the film was so hard to find, and after watching 50 minutes of it, I figured it out. The film is terrible. It had a lot of potential, but the story drags along, isn't believable, and it looks like someone shot the entire thing with a camcorder (Which they may have for realism, but it didn't work).. Dialogue was poor, and the action boring. I don't recommend anyone ever watch this film. The only purpose this film could possibly pose to humanity is as a torture device at Camp X-Ray to get the prisoners to talk!
Marilace
Marilace
I think what strikes me about this movie is the problems it had. The first problem is when you have a show that is produced like this, than you need the actors to deliver a certain way. In this movie, they tend to stick with what they know and they act like they would in any other movie. With a reality based spoof you have to talk and act like normal people.

The second bit that I don't like is most of the time I am either wanting them to take the ridiculous antics of everyone, turn it up a notch, and make me squirm or take it down a notch so it doesn't seem so stupid. You have to pick one or the other friends, you can't hang out in the middle.
Dyni
Dyni
Ok, the choices at Blockbuster were limited the night I rented this. On the one hand Spy Kids, on the other Series 7.

Series 7 had an excellent cover. The concept of a reality TV show were the boundaries had been pushed back to the point were the audience demanded death to keep watching.

Unfortunately Series 7 had little more than the concept to work with. The movie dragged on for what seemed like an eternity, whether this was an intentional ploy by the makers to encourage audience participation in wanting to see the 'contenders' killed I do not know.

Filmed in the style of Blair Witch meets The Running Man (the actors trying to act like they're not acting and killing each other) and using what looked like hi-8 as a medium, this movie did have a promising start.

In between the scenes of tension or action were several bio's of each of the contenders. While this was novel, each bio dragged on too long and did not make me empathise with the contenders or make them seem any more real and less like actors.

A shame.
Nicanagy
Nicanagy
Series 7 sees reigning champion Dawn pitted against five new contenders in a fight to the death.

I didn't really get into The Contenders until Series 5, which ended with a tense three-way Mexican standoff that, at the time, I thought couldn't be beaten. Series 6 somehow managed to top this with a brutal knife fight between finalists Rick and Daniel guaranteed to satisfy any viewer's bloodlust.

How could Series 7 possibly be any better? Answer: by introducing a romantic angle. It sounds sappy, but by having contenders Dawn (heavily pregnant) and Jeff (dealing with terminal cancer) conflicted by their feelings for each other really adds to the emotional wallop and leaves one reeling at the final outcome.

Series 8 is going to have to come up with something really special to outdo this.