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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Running Man is a long running Korean variety show that began in 2010
and is still airing today as of this review. It has become extremely
popular all across Asia over its roughly 160 episode run time to date,
and, it doesn't take long to see its universal appeal once you start
There's nothing to spoil here there's no linear story or end goal. More or less, it's just a simple comedy/reality/variety/entertainment/game show that airs on a weekly basis. I can't think of any show being televised in the west that's quite like it. It's a bit similar to Amazing Race, but its closest comparison is to other past KTV variety shows; X Man, Family Outing, & Infinity Challenge come to mind for obvious reasons.
Here's your basic premise: Seven regular cast members get together with a few different guest stars each week to compete in various games and missions that ultimately result in the loser(s) being embarrassed &/or the winner(s) being rewarded. There's a heavy chase/tag element to the show, combined with just about any absurd game imaginable that you might have played as a kid, at a company picnic, on family/friends game night, etc It's usually very simple and silly stuff, but it does serve as an effective mechanism to deliver some solid entertainment along the way.
The cast members are mostly outstanding in their designated roles it originally consisted of 7 dudes who were slotted to play various personas within the bigger picture of entertaining its viewers. Much of the cast you may recognize if you're familiar with the Korean entertainment industry in general. Other than the few early cast adjustments, the original core stars have remained intact (with the exception of officially adding an early guest star as the show's lone permanent female cast member; she fits in seamlessly with the rest of the guys). In general, the entire primary cast is almost ideally suited in order to help make this show work as a whole; most of them have their own successful careers outside of this show as MC's, actors, singers, rappers, etc but, they all dutifully clock in each Monday morning to play their parts on this show, and, they really seem to enjoy each other's company, and they collectively exude a clear bond as some sort of secondary working family. Search any of the regular cast members if you need more info regarding them and/or their specific roles on this show.
I've been watching this show regularly since the very first episode. It was raw and had a very limited budget in the beginning, but you could clearly see its potential; it soon found its footing, started ascending the coveted KTV ratings chart, and it has been off and "running" ever since. It has evolved & diversified over time, namely; several new concept themes were added, and the show has been taken out of its confined late night settings in favor of operating in broad daylight in full view of the public. Otherwise, its basic original premise has mostly remained unchanged.
This show doesn't have a fixed script per se, but it is produced and directed in such a way to achieve a desired outcome, so it's not "reality" by any means. The cast is basically informed as to what needs to be accomplished, then they set out to get the job done while hamming it up in typical KTV variety fashion. If need be, the show is nudged back in the right direction or a new direction, according to what's best for any given episode fortunately, this is all done with as minimal heavy handedness as possible, so as not to disrupt the overall free flowing feel of the show. There's also a unique balance & symmetry at play with these Korean variety/reality shows between directors, cast, crew, guests, production teams, editing dept., etc...Everybody seems to be on the same page to try to achieve what is best for the overall good of the show as a whole.
There is a lot to like here the show is packed full of fantastic guest stars on a regular basis, and the way it engages itself with the general public is fascinating to watch play out; normal citizens going about their everyday lives could soon find themselves involved in helping out the cast members accomplish whatever silly mission is at hand for that day. It also serves as sort of a Korean tourism guide and cultural experience; if you were ever planning on visiting Korea, you could literally use this show as your travel itinerary as to where to go and what to do, see, eat, experience, etc
On the down side, the cast (who I dearly love) can be a tad annoying with their antics and clamoring for screen time (particularly the MC, who's otherwise awesome when not acting too much the clown), and it's sometimes hard to make all 90+ minutes of a particular show entertaining when you only have 12+ hours of footage to edit. The show has already peaked as well, and it won't get any better; it's becoming increasingly difficult to keep the show fresh & I'm not sure how long everyone involved can keep this phenomenon going. Inevitably, all good things must come to an end If &/or when they ever call it quits, or various cast members have to move on in life, etc there is no doubt that this show will have had an incredibly successful run!
Summary; this show has been consistently entertaining and often wildly hilarious throughout its duration, and there are very few episodes that have disappointed in delivering very family friendly fun and entertainment on a weekly basis. If you have not been watching Running Man, you have missed out on one of the best TV shows, from any country, in years.
Bottom Line: Don't Walk, Run to watch this show before it's too late!...9 out of 10 stars!... HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
No need to hide the fact that a lot variety shows have evolved since
Infinity Challenge (Muhan Dojeon). And to be honest I do think Running
Man was inspired by it. The chasing game, action-blockbuster style was
first done on Infinity Challenge but of course, Running Man bring their
own creativity to the table.
The show started out with 7 Running Men but added Song Ji-hyo as the 8th but then Song Joong-ki left and so it's still 7 members till this date.
This show is certainly a must watch. It dwells in humorous psychological battle and then comes the physical war and in between you've got romance/bromance and family.
The show also offers themed-episode to match the current trending movie or drama. They've also pay tribute to all-time favorite movies which makes me find myself reminisce.
The solid performance from the Nation's MC, Yoo Jae-suk has brought the show to a new level in variety world. Kim Jong Kook is certainly a tough guy on the outside but vulnerable on the inside. Haha with vast variety experience has no problem standing proud with his wits. Ji Suk Jin first attempt at outdoor variety show does have it flaws but he's done great given his age. New comer Lee Kwang-soo, Kang Gary and Song Ji-hyo are not afraid to go all out and give their everything to entertain the viewers.
I know that Running Man started out with determination making their own flavor and style but recently I find most episodes a bit repetitive and lost it poise. Members' characters has become stagnant. Since everyone is now doing more jobs thanks to Running Man, it feels like they don't try to make improvement in this show. I know it's not easy to make people laugh but I wish something more and new on other departments; action, romance.
I give a 9 because there's still room for improvement. I hope Running Man will survive just like IC and continue to save me from my weekly distress.
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