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The Running Man (1987)

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A wrongly convicted man must try to survive a public execution gauntlet staged as a game show.


(novel) (as Richard Bachman), (screenplay)
2,669 ( 1,663)
1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dynamo (as Erland Van Lidth)
Marvin J. McIntyre ...
Gus Rethwisch ...
Sven (as Sven Thorsen)
Lenny (as Eddie Bunker)


In the year 2017, the world economy has collapsed. The great freedoms of the United States are no longer, as the once great nation has sealed off its borders and become a militarized police state, censoring all film, art, literature, and communications. Even so, a small resistance force led by two revolutionaries manages to fight the oppression. With full control over the media, the government attempts to quell the nation's yearning for freedom by broadcasting a number of game shows on which convicted criminals fight for their lives. The most popular and sadistic of these programs is "The Running Man," hosted by Damon Killian. When a peaceful protest of starving citizens gathers in Bakersfield, California, a police officer named Ben Richards is ordered to fire on the crowd, which he refuses to do. Subdued by the other officers, the attack is carried out, and Richards is framed for the murder of almost a hundred unarmed civilians. Following a daring jail break months later, Richards is... Written by Curly Q. Link

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The year is 2019. The finest men in America don't run for President. They run for their lives. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

13 November 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El sobreviviente  »

Box Office


$27,000,000 (estimated)


$38,122,105 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints) (4 channels)


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Actor Marvin J. McIntyre and cinematographer Thomas Del Ruth had previously worked together in Fandango (1985). See more »


Damon Killian's stunt double can be seen when Ben flings him into the Running Man starting rocket. See more »


[Ben Richards finds a mortally-wounded Laughlin]
William Laughlin: I'm going somewhere, but not with you. Buzzsaw took care of my traveling arrangements.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Announcer's voiceover: "The Running Man has been brought to you by: Breakaway Paramilitary Uniforms, Orthopure Pure Procreation Pills, and Cadre Cola - it hits the spot. Promotional considerations paid for by Kelton Flame Throwers, Wainwright Electrical Launchers, and Hammond & Gage Chain Saws. Damon Killian's wardrobe by Chez Antoine, 19th-century craftsmanship for the 21st-century man. Cadre trooper and studio guard's sidearms provided by Colchester, the pistol of patriots. Remember, tickets for the ICS studio tour are always available for class A citizens in good standing. If you'd like to be a contestant on The Running Man, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to ICS Talent Hunt, care of your local affiliate, and then go out and do something really despicable! I'm Phil Hilton. Good night and take care!" See more »


Referenced in 101 Most Unforgettable SNL Moments (2004) See more »


(Restless Heart) Running Away With You
Music and Lyrics by Harold Faltermeyer and John Parr
Performed by John Parr
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

He Said He'd Be Back..."The Running Man" is Fun No Matter How You Slice and Dice it...
28 March 2003 | by (UK) – See all my reviews

"The Running Man" is based on a story by Richard Bachman, a.k.a. Stephen King writing under pseudonym.

It takes place in the near future, where everything is run by the media and the government. Kind of like right now. In the future, there isn't much selection on television. All there is is "The Running Man"--hosted by Damon Killian (Richard Dawson, host of "Family Fortune" in real life)--a show that features convicts, or "runners" being chased by madmen, or "stalkers." It's a bit like a futuristic gladiator sport. No one ever, ever wins the show. But Schwarzenegger has yet to play. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Ben Richards, also known as The Butcher of Bakersfield, for firing upon a crowd of humans in a food strike. Only one problem. He's been framed--he never shot anyone. After Arnie escapes from jail, Damon Killian wants his hands on him for the show--so they hunt him down and bring him in. Damon offers Ben a deal--if he goes on the show, he'll let his friends from jail go free. But if he doesn't...he puts his friends on. So Richards agrees to play the game, only to find that Damon has put his friends-from-jail in the show anyway. Right before being launched in the arena, Ben Richards says to Damon, "Hey, Damon. I'll be back." There is a pause. "Only in a rerun," Damon says. Yeah, right.

This movie is about as action-packed and adrenaline-punched an action movie you're going to see in a while. We see an excuse for Schwarzenegger being thrown into an arena with killers, where he must use his brains, strategy, and most of all muscles, to kill the stalkers. But the thing is, the excuse for throwing Schwarzenegger in the arena is a good one. They didn't completely ignore the plot; they don't even throw him in the arena until at least a half hour into the film. They set up the plot first, which is nice.

Arnold proves his acting talent is not just in his muscles once again. Too many people make fun of Schwarzenegger's acting skills, but to tell you the truth, I prefer him over Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone any day. Bruce and Sly are mumblers, in my opinion. Anyway, I like Arnold in this movie, because unlike in "The Terminator" where he is an indestructible cyborg, he is a vincible human with emotions in this film. We see a different side to Schwarzenegger, and it's pretty nice.

Richard Dawson is surprisingly good as Damon. I love his charisma on screen. Of course he's good at playing a gameshow host--he himself was one--but he also has a very good acting talent. Check out the scene where he offers Arnold a deal for going on the show. Look how smug he is in that scene, and how well he delivers his lines. He envelops his character very well. An underrated actor if ever I saw one. He comes off slightly creepy and slightly likable.

This movie is good fun no matter how you slice and dice it. I've often noticed it has a bit of a weird vibe to it, but then I realized that's just the sci-fi/futuristic vibe of the film. I've felt it before when watching sci-fi films. There's something about them. When I watch a film, or a certain genre, I get different vibes. Sci-fi gives me a weird vibe that is undescribable. This film gives that vibe to me. It sounds weird, but I think a lot of people get "vibes" and don't realize it.

I recently viewed this movie twice in less than a day; once at night and once in the morning. It just goes to show how easy it is to watch. It is strictly a fun, action film with lots of imagination and charisma. Easy to watch with a high re-watch factor.

What would you rather do with 90 minutes of your life on a Friday night then watch Arnold Schwarzenegger get to knock some skulls together in a gladiator arena? Exactly.

4/5 stars -

86 of 116 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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