Sony // 1994 // 98 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Deren Ney (Retired) // September 6th, 2002
"A beautiful women can stop more than traffic."
No Contest is a really bad movie. In every way. I can't even make bad puns about it being "no contest" the worst movie ever, and bad puns are my oxygen. Andrew "Dice" Clay plays a terrorist who takes a beauty pageant hostage. And his character's name is Raymond Ulysses Brice.
Still here? Wow.
Then I guess you'll be interested to know that this is by far the worst take on Die Hard's oft-imitated scenario. Actually, "oft-imitated" is generous. More like, beat-to-bloody-hell. Innovations? Sure. Hans Gruber's crew had absolutely zero psychotic Deadhead members, for starters. No Contest also "boasts" Roddy Piper (sans "Rowdy") as a cold-blooded killer named Ice (I bet Randy "Macho Man" Savage doesn't think his turn in Spider-Man is so special now). Tweed, the Grande dame of B-movies, stars as the gutsy former pageant winner who, to no one's surprise I hope, single-handedly takes on the terrorists (in heels, no less). She has some damn high kicks, but the fight scenes are VIP at best, My Secret Identity at worst. Robert Davi is Tweed's Reginald VelJohnson as the cop who talks her through the ordeal. (I decline to comment on Davi's performance due to his involvement with The Goonies.) One remarkable thing about this character is that the only information we get about him happens at the end of the movie, not for the plot, but just out of conversation. It comes across like the pages in the script got mixed up. With another movie.
The plot of No Contest unfolds with the grace of a hippo birthing, and the dialogue had me reexamining the charms of silent film. Dice's wit seems to have gotten clunkier as he's grown chunkier, and it's sad to see the former poster boy for masculinity resorted to spouting humorless one-liners while getting his ass kicked by Shannon Tweed. Not funny sad, Thomas-J-bee-attack sad. That's the problem with No Contest: for a proudly B-quality project, it sure fumbles the best aspects of the late-night movie genre. Dice should be the perfect B-movie star, but his performance here has less charisma than the spaceships in Final Fantasy. The action sequences are like noon at Denny's, and despite the cover sleeve's promise of "Full frontal, high octane action!," I don't recall so much as one boobie (though I dozed off for about 97 minutes).
The picture quality is solid, which is a testament only to modern technology, and the incomprehensible fact that HBO put some dough into the production end, or at least into renting real cameras. It's presented in anamorphic widescreen, the better to marvel at the wide shots of Diceman's bloated assets. The soundtrack is ambitious, if ambitious means cluttered, but it's too cheap-sounding and bland to provide any interest. There are no special features to speak of, except theatrical trailers, which seem useless for a TV movie. Few things are as useless as useless trailers to a useless TV movie, and there they are, getting stank on my DVD player. So you could read this. Sick.
Frightening parting thought: There was a sequel to this film in 1995. Stock some water and batteries, the end is near.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 1994
MPAA Rating: Rated R