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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I entered my first comment on this film almost five years ago. Then,
the ideas presented in the movie still seemed mostly fictional, if
indeed they could ever transpire at all. Not any longer. Now, the
politics, society, and media in The Running Man seem very close to home
Consider the following factors, which were mostly absent in 1987 (the year The Running Man came out) that are present today:
Concern with, as Richard Dawson's character Damon Killian puts it, "traditional morality." CHECK
Entertainment in the form of extreme reality, including pain, fear, and discomfort on the part of contestants. CHECK
Cameras everywhere. CHECK
Restricted travel for citizens at the whim of the government, controlled by a centralized computer system complete with barcoded passports ("travel passes" in the movie) and sanctioned under the guise of national security. CHECK
An increased intermingling, bordering on incestuous, of government and media. CHECK
Computer-generated graphics that are advanced enough to manipulate real film footage (such as the "digital matting" of Ben Richards' image onto the stunt double). CHECK
Jailing of conscientious objectors or detractors of the current administration. CHECK
Flagging economy further widening the gulf between the wealthy and not-so-wealthy; increasing numbers of fringe groups reacting to the tightening noose of big government; civil unrest brewing just under or at the surface of nearly every sizable public event regardless of its origin or intent. CHECK, CHECK, CHECK
Then again, maybe it's just a movie based on a Stephen King novella. But just to be safe, I'm moving to Switzerland.
Of all Arnold's mid-'80s movies who would have thought that most relevant
today would be The Running Man. A chilling and surprisingly realistic tale
of reality TV gone mad. It may have been far-fetched back then but not so
now. Not when you think about it. Currently, Reality TV shows are either
scraping the bottom of the barrel or desperate to raise the bar. If the
one isn't more controversial as the last, it's a dud. How long will it be
before we really do see shows like The Running Man? How long before we
'court-appointed theatrical attorneys' or the entertainment division of
Justice Department? There is so much satire and intelligence in this movie
that may have been missed back in 1987 that is desperate to be seen again
considering the current state of TV shows.
The biggest message of all is 'You are being lied to'. It's no secret that the Government and the media work in cahoots. And the masses believe what the media tells them to believe. It's a very scary state of affairs and unless more accurate representations of the truth emerge we may easily accept a brutal show like the Running Man in the near future. It's no secret that Reality TV is not very realistic. It's edited and reshaped before being aired and it's only what the networks want you to see. Usually it's far from the real truth.
Although rather different than Stephen King's book (the ending is completely changed) the script does conform to the typical Arnie formula. Yes, he does have numerous and very corny one-liners and he does say 'I'll be back' (which he never REALLY said that often anyway, when you think about it) in the most ironic situation yet but he's still a zillion times better in the role then Christopher Reeve or Dolph Lundgren would have been (these two were considered BEFORE Arnie believe it or not).
The director is none other than Dave Starsky himself (Paul Michael Glaser). It may not be artistic but it is still strong enough to generate excitement and his use of neon and flourescent colors gives each individual set a pretty cool look. Andrew Davis (not a director I particularly like) was attached before Glaser, though no matter who directs, the film is still marred by a very heavy 80's feel.
First of all, Harold Faltermeyer's score (remember him?) is incredibly dated and robs the action scenes of any timeless integrity. And the fashion sense of the movie is far too excessive to be convincingly set in the future. Apart from the dated feel, the only other thing that bugs me is the poorly staged shoot-out that passes as the climax.
This new DVD is a zillion times better than the original release. Gone is the horrid letterbox picture. In its place is a brand new hi-definition 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer. The colors sparkle and literally pop from the screen. The new Dolby 5.1 EX and DTS ES soundtrack are also amazing. There constant use of the surround channels to great effect and the bass is strong and powerful. Definitely one of the best re-masters I've seen so far. Two intriguing documentaries, a trailer and a 'Meet the Stalkers' gimmick are included in this 2-disc set that comes in a rather neat slip case.
In the near future, Arnold stars as Ben Richards, a wrongly convicted man coerced into playing 'The Running Man', a deadly TV game show where people have to keep moving to try and escape brutal deaths at the hands of the 'Stalkers'. Of course, people are expected to die eventually and its up to Arnold to prove the system wrong.
I haven't read the Stephen King book, but this is a great film regardless, one of Arnold's best. He does what he does best in the action man role, delivering death with unforgettable one-liners. Classics are probably the 'He was a real pain in the neck' after strangling a guy with barb wire, and 'He had to split!', referring to whereabouts he just chain sawed someone vertically. Dawson is perfectly irritating as the TV presenter, and all the 'Stalkers' are suitably camp. The action is violent, but its an action film. That's the point. The film is fast paced, and at 90 minutes it doesn't overstay its welcome.
With Starsky and Hutch's Paul Michael Glaser at the helm, and made in the wake of the success of The Terminator, previously this film was probably seen as just another mindless action vehicle for Arnold, and very far fetched. But today, anyone who watches a lot of TV could see how the film is getting closer to reality. I wouldn't be surprised if I turn on the TV in the 'near future' and see a show not to far from this.
On that depressing note, I must however recommend 'The Running Man' to anyone who likes the 80s, Arnold, ridiculous acts or violence or just a good action film. 9. 5 / 10
"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 -
This is an awesome action film with great one liners from Arnie!. It's stylishly made, with lots of tense action to keep one satisfied. The Characters were awesome, and Richard Dawson, is very menacing as the main villain. Yes it has tons of plot holes,however it's highly highly entertaining, with a great ending as well. It had a great story, too it, and Arnie and Maria Conchita Alonso had great chemistry together. The Character development was also pretty good, with, some superb performances. The Directing is great!. Paul Michael Glaser, does a very good job here, with awesome use of colors, keeping it stylish throughout, awesome camera angles, and overall keeping the film at a very fast pace! good job. There is a little bit of gore. We get a few bloody gunshot wounds, exploding head, slit throat, bloody chainsaw slices, skinless corpses, blood, and an impaling. The Acting is great!. Arnold Schwarzenegger is AMAZING as always, he is excellent in the acting department , has tons of hilarious one liners, kicks that ass, and as always is a big physical presence!, and was tons of fun to watch! (Arnie Rules!). Maria Conchita Alonso, does well here, she was really cute, and had good chemistry with Arnie!. Yaphet Kotto, is decent here, with what he has to do, which is not much. Marvin J. McIntyre, is good as the geeky type guy, he was cool!. Richard Dawson is awesome as the main villain, and was very very menacing, and he was fun to watch. Jesse Ventura,Jim Brown,Erland van Lidth,Gus Rethwisch,and Professor Toru Tanaka, all do what they have to do very well as the stalkers. Overall a MUST see! ****1/2 out of 5
This movie is one of the most Underrated movie of its time. When watching this movie , your filled with action, and when somethings not really happing , the humour is un matched. Brilliant writing for a movie that was made to give us a bloody mix , of a game show where criminals are the contestants, and a near future where the general public all have a thirst for blood.Also Arnold Doesn't let us down with some of his best one liners.I don't want to spoil anything for you ,but i will tell you when Arnold gives his "I'll be back line" He gets the best response of them all in this movie. Hope you enjoy this gem as much as i did.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Running Man is often dismissed as being just another Arnie action
thriller full of explosions, bad puns and gunfire, and to be fair,
there is a lot of that in it. People used to look at it and compare it
to the Terminator series, saying it was one of the poorer
But, give it 18 years, and you find yourself being able to appreciate it in a different light. Rather than just being another brainless action film, it works very well as a parody of reality TV. It is quite different to the Stephen King book, true, but I doubt whether Hollywood, with its love of upbeat endings and so-called 'ordinary guys' who turned out to have the skills of a trained commando, would have accepted it in its current form.
But, on with the review.
Ben Richards (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a cop working in a dystopian United States where democracy is a thing of the past, and the entire country is ruled by a government/media conglomerate amalgamation. The economy is in tatters, food is scarce and the state keeps people distracted by producing sadistic gameshows for them to watch, like Jumping for Dollars, where people jump for money over a pit of rabid dogs, and the most popular one is The Running Man, a gameshow hosted by the slimy Damian Killian (played by the entertaining Richard Dawson) where supposed 'criminals' are hunted down by theatrical, pro-wresting-esquire 'stalkers'.
Some, however, try and speak up against the government. When a group of hungry people hold a protest in the town of Bakersfield, California, a helicopter piloted by Richards is sent to 'calm' (i.e. kill) the protest. When Richards refuses to fire on innocent people, he is arrested and framed for the murder of the people in the crowd. He is sentenced to a slave labour camp, but escapes with the aid of a resistance leader (Yaphet Kotto) and goes on the run.
However, his freedom does not last long, and after he kidnaps network employee Amber Mendez (Marita Conchita Alonso) in an attempt to escape those pursuing him, he finds himself taken prisoner again, but this time he is forced to appear on The Running Man.
And there, of course, the entire film kicks into standard Arnie mode. Richards is launched into the post-apocalyptic wasteland of Los Angeles (why is LA always destroyed in these dystopian worlds?) and forced to run from the 'stalkers', along with two other prisoners who escaped from the labour camp with him. Amber also becomes curious about Richards' protestations of innocence, and discovers he was framed. Guess what happens to her, then? So, as Amber, Richards and the two other guys run around trying to avoid the stalkers, we soon become aware that Richards is no ordinary cop. He's Super Arnie, the unkillable one man army who can collapse evil corporate dictatorships and fight obese men covered in Christmas lights all while being just your average American guy with an Austrian accent.
Yes, the remainder of the film becomes dumb, loud, classic 80's Arnie fun. There's a lot of exciting fight sequences, the trademark dreadful puns ('He had to split' being my favourite), and the general formulaic final confrontation and happy ending. It's a lot of fun watching Killian react to it in the typical 'wholesome' gameshow host way, as well, and some of the funniest moments in the show revolve around the contrast between his interactions with the crowd as the seemingly benevolent host (watch out for the cursing old lady!) and the cold, cyncial man he is in reality who will do anything to increase ratings.
If you expect a high-brow, intelligent film, you'll be disappointed. But if you want a great 80s flick, well, this is it. But the great thing about this film is it was quite prophetic.
If you look at the entertainment we have today, you'll have noticed the way reality TV is going nowadays - shows featuring people willing to put themselves through anything for five minutes of fame, and producers all too willing to let them humiliate themselves on TV. It's not too far a leap to imagine that some vile TV exec out there has been trying to get the right to show people be executed live on TV. We've already had that, however, with the ghoulish al-Qaida hostage beheading videos posted on the internet. It seems that in the current climate, at least some people are perfectly fine with watching real death on their television sets.
With that in mind, and coupled with the fact that everything these days appears to be a revival of the 80s, you have to be impressed by the far-sightedness of this film. Of course, we haven't reached there yet, as it's terrorists, rather than the mainstream media, who have bought us easily available programs featuring real human death, but you just have to wonder how long it is before some exec decides to see if he can find a way of pitching a show that combines people's desire for entertainment and desire to indulge their morbid curiosity...
This Arnie veichle made in his 80's heyday is one of his better ones, It's
movie based on a Stephen King book of the same name.
It stars Arnie as a convicted killer (framed of course!)in
near future - Where TV is everything, He's forced to take part in a
game show called 'The Running man' with an equally sadistic host played by
real life game show host Richard Dawson in which convicted killers are
chased by 'Stalkers' with Chainsaw's and flametorches who aim to kill the
bad guys on National Live TV with the audience going wild and choosing
stalker will make their next kill to win board games and other crap,
Stalkers have NEVER been killed on the show - Will Arnie & CO in their
lycra pants kick the crap outta them? Of course they will
All in all a likeable if dated 80's Arnie Flick
My Rating 8/10
Released just as Arnold Schwarzenegger was achieving megastar status, this
film about stardom is a wry pun on his career and the media business around
him. Films like these are not meant to be analysed, they are meant to be
enjoyed, and THE RUNNING MAN certainly manages to do that.
After a shaky start involving the worst title sequence in the history of cinema (although it's good to see the Sinclair Spectrum finally get global use!), director Paul Michael Glaser presents an eye-popping glimpse at the television of tomorrow. This witty slice of sociological irony would have admittedly been slicker in the hands of regular Paul Verhoeven, but Glaser keeps the action flowing throughout, and presents us with some bizarrely fascinating villains as well as the usual action frolics. One query, though, is over the level of violence. Oddly enough there doesn't really seem to be enough. In a program where the broad concept is horrifically barbaric, Glaser seems reluctant to horrify us beyond the disappointing "see the blood spattering from the violence that's just off camera" and those awful rubber corpses! I do not wish to appear to be encouraging unnecessary violence, but in a comic-book film where 'gore is its core', not including it almost makes you feel that it is trying to take itself too seriously, and therefore makes it even more horrific. Perhaps this delicate subject is better explained by Paul Verhoeven in his excellent commentary to ROBOCOP (DVD Criterion Collection).
But the performances in THE RUNNING MAN are suitably solid, from the powerful Schwarzenegger to the sleazy game show host. Any fan of the 80s action genre will love this, so sit back and prepare for SHOWTIME!!!!!!
This is a classic action flick from the '80s featuring Arnold
Schwarzenegger in one of his most memorable roles. Set in a futuristic
police state where the government controls everything, including the
television networks. One of their most popular TV shows is "The Running
Man", where convicted felons are hunted down and killed for the
entertainment of millions. It's set up like a game show, where the
audience votes for their favorite "stalkers", trained killers who hunt
down and kill the show's unlucky "contestants". Audience members also
win prizes for correctly predicting who will be killed by whom. And the
host is played by none other than Family Feud's Richard Dawson, who's
game show experience makes him well suited for this role. When Ben
Richards (Arnold) is falsely accused of mass murder, he is forced to
play this sadistic game.
This movie is chock full of classic Arnold one-liners, such as his famous "I'll be back" right before he enters the arena. And he taunts a stalker armed with a flamethrower with "How about a light?" I could go on and on, but I don't want to spoil the movie. It's funny stuff!
Whether it was intended or not, this movie serves as a great parody of today's "Reality TV" craze. Already there are numerous programs that show people enduring pain and humiliation for the entertainment of viewers, and even court cases are televised for their "entertainment value". Running Man demonstrates what would happen if reality TV hit rock bottom, and it is a scary picture. One can only hope that the networks have the common sense not to let it go that far.
Overall, this is a fun film & I highly recommend it. 9 out of 10!
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