No Contest (1995)

No Contest 1995

There is no shortage of negative reviews for No Contest (1995), to the point that I avoided watching this Canadian Die Hard knock off for years as rarely there was a good thing said about it. You know what? It’s okay. Sure it’s a very blatant takes it’s beat and inspiration from Die Hard but it scratches the itch and does a few things rather well that honestly surprised me.

Here we see a beauty contest come under the threat of Andrew Dice Clay’s hammy over the top villain as Shannon Tweed rolls around the air ducts taking out terrorists one by one. Robert Davi sits around outside with a radio supporting her and a colourful bunch of secondary characters keep things lively. There are a few variations on the theme, however, there is no denying this is cookie cutter Die Hard.

Obviously the action sequences are nowhere near the perfection of McTiernan’s architecture, however, they are well enough constructed to hold their own against the endless slew of cash ins that arrived in the early 90’s. There is a lack of thrills, humour seems forced and the plot gets progressively sillier, but what, I argue, would you expect from something like this.

What I did like was the handling of Tweed’s character. On the one hand there is a role reversal with a female in the role previously filled by male and at no point does Tweed’s character feel like she couldn’t handle herself. On the other, this is Shannon Tweed, star of many-a-late-night erotic movies and No Contest does not cash in on this. Tweed look glamourous as the hostess of Beauty show and easily transitions to an action hero for the second half of the film, dressed sensibly at all times in a modest top and leggings. She is certainly easier on the eyes than Mr Willis, this isn’t Skyscraper with Anna Nicole Smith and the film really benefits from a less tacky approach.

Clay is obviously the big star of the film, given the marketing. From much of the art it would look like Clay is the hero of the piece. This was how I had interpreted the movie over the years and found it somewhat interesting, knowing that there was a sequel, that only Tweed would return in. Clay is hammy and it was absolutely required that every villain be Riskman-esq, likable on the surface but scary underneath, witty but greedy. It seems farcical that the film opens with Clay with a bad wig and glasses. Why does he need a disguise?

Davi is a welcome addition to the cast and being of the Die Hard royalty gives the film a seal of approval. His role is a little limited to having to deal with the bureaucracy on the ground, however, he gets in on the action later in the film in a limited capacity as his character is a rocking an old war wound. There isn’t very much chemistry between Davi and Tweed during the few scenes they are on screen together and the romance that is surfaces towards the end is a little uncomfortable. It does beggar the question, what happened to the relationship as Davi is not part of the sequel.

Roddy Piper! Roddy has a silly role as the psychopath of the bunch and he’s terrific fun. His character and casting seems a little sidelined, however, he proves to be the most fun aspect of the film, even if only for his continually returning from the dead. He participates in a pretty cool fight in the kitchen with Tweed, a scene that was easily my favourite in the film

This was directed by veteran TV director Paul Lynch, who also handled the sequel, and it does feel a little like less flashy TV production. There are two writers credited, Arthur Baysting and Robert C. Cooper. My guess is one photocopied the Die Hard script whilst the other made the necessary alterations, I’m not sure who did what.

Perhaps this film came at a time whereby audiences had moved on from this ilk, this was 7 years after Die Hard and Die Hard with a Vengeance was released the same year. Watching this, having not seen anything with a Die Hard flavouring for quite some time, was fairly fun and I didn’t feel the film strain at all. Much like Lethal Tender and Hijack No Contest knows what it is, makes no apologies and just goes with it, it’s pretty good fun! Role on the sequel…

Art predominantly pushes the blokes with Tweed relegated to an after thought. Sure this it video box art and at the time churned out with little thought other than star power.

No Contest has VHS, DVD and Laserdisc releases in the UK, but you will have to search for a good while before you find on. Thankfully, whilst scarce, the prices aren’t silly.


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