Bulworth (1998)

R  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  22 May 1998 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 21,360 users   Metascore: 75/100
Reviews: 224 user | 107 critic | 28 from Metacritic.com

A suicidally disillusioned liberal politician puts a contract out on himself and takes the opportunity to be bluntly honest with his voters by affecting the rhythms and speech of hip-hop music and culture.



(story), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 16 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Kimberly Deauna Adams ...
Vinny Argiro ...
Ernie Lee Banks ...
Leroy (as Ernie Banks)
Amiri Baraka ...
Constance Bulworth
Brandon N. Bowlin ...
Mongo Brownlee ...
Henchman #3


A mix of hip-hop and politics, after putting a hit out on himself Senator Bulworth becomes a MCing politician akin to a west African griot who isn't afraid to say anything he wants and can offend anyone he wants. Written by Guy Johns

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Brace yourself. This politician is about to tell the truth!


Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive strong language and some drug content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

22 May 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Tribulations  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$141,816 (USA) (15 May 1998)


£377,939 (UK) (29 January 1999)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Aaron Sorkin and James Toback did a great deal of uncredited work on the script. See more »


When Bullworth arrives with the ribs in the bar, Compton, Murphy and the other assistant switch places between shots. See more »


Sen. Jay Billington Bulworth: I think it'd be a good idea to say "I'm sorry", huh?
Kid #1: Oh man, I waited my whole life for this moment!
Cop: I'm... sorry.
Sen. Jay Billington Bulworth: Say "No problem, Officer".
Kid #2: Go fuck your mama, you fucking pig cocksucker!
Sen. Jay Billington Bulworth: That's good enough.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Last line of credits For: A.B., K.E.B.B., B.M.B., and I.I.A.B. See more »


Features 5 Fingers (1952) See more »


Written by Wonoosas Martin, Marrico King, Corey J. Johnson, Ralph Leverston, Terrell Harris,
George Clinton (as George Clinton Jr.), Grace Cook
Performed by Crucial Conflict
Contains a sample of "I'll Stay" (George Clinton (as George Clinton Jr.), Grace Cook)
Courtesy of Pallas Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Contemporary classic!
10 August 2005 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

Bulworth was released quite a few years ago, but it is still (if not more) relevant today. It merges two "cultures," one being the rich white class culture, and the other being the urban lower class culture, and ends up with many universal ideals. The story's hero is Jay Billington Bulworth, portrayed brilliantly by Warren Beatty. I think some people have a problem with the fact that he is...well, more or less insane, but that is possibly the most important thing about the character. You could call him insane, but if you look at it more romantically, perhaps he is "posessed" by the "spirit" of social justice, a mere vessel for the truths that need to be told. He is a character unaware of the significance in what he is saying. To him, if he's not completely insane, he's simply a man who broke down and decided to tell it like it is (ala Peter Finch in Network, but with rapping and rhyming). There's something actually kind of mystical about all this.

Since it would be way too preachy if that's all there was to the story, there's some other aspects that make for an entertaining viewing. Bulworth, in his depression and anxiety, hired a hit-man to "off" him so his family could collect the life insurance. Once his speeches and raps become a success, this is obviously a big problem since he wants to live again ("You should never make life and death situations when feeling suicidal"). There is a love interest with a girl named Nina, played by the lovely Halle Berry. You don't know if you can trust her, and her intentions are unclear.

There is also a fine supporting role by Don Cheadle, who plays a "business man" who uses young children to sell drugs. His character does bring up some valid points, and we're forced to really put ourselves in his shoes. He's doing what he feels is right, but ultimately, the ends don't justify his means.

With a movie that has so much going on, it would probably be difficult for the filmmakers to figure out a way to wrap everything up, right? Unfortunately, yes. Bulworth ends pretty abruptly and leaves with the film's message being half-assedly shouted at the screen. The last act is a huge flaw in an otherwise perfect movie.

Bulworth is a hilarious comedy and it heralds something truly special and unique. It is not a film to be taken for granted or forgotten. It's a quintessential example of a 'contemporary classic' for our generation. I have no doubt that over the next decade or so, people will want to revisit it and examine the politics and the cultures; it should be studied in classrooms, it should be valued. I loved Bulworth!

My rating: 9/10

31 of 35 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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