Customer Reviews: The Running Man [Blu-ray]
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HALL OF FAMEon August 16, 2002
In this wry and entertaining take on a world gone crazy, where corporate rulers routinely engage popular sport activities to distill public anger and frustration and to try to distract common people from civic unrest, we find perpetual everyman Arnold Schwarzenegger caught in the vise-grip of official lies when he escapes from maximum security prison only to be caught and selected as the latest "contestant" (read `intended victim' here) for the overwhelmingly popular television program called, appropriately enough, "Running Man". The point of the game is for the contestant to survive being hunted down by a sewerful of villains while trying to make his way through a nightmarish maze. The villains are a bit campy, ranging from an outrageously garbed electric man who dispatches virtual lightning bolts to fry his prey out of existence to a chainsaw freak who attempts to hack his victims to death while riding his motorcycle.
Yet the action sequences more than make up for the sometimes-silly dialogue. The supporting cast is composed of veterans like Richard Dawson as the venomous game-show host and producer, who manipulates every aspect of the game to reach the storyline he has laid out. There are also a lot of cameos here, from Mick Fleetwood as a revolutionary to Jessie "The Body" Ventura as a sports commentator to Jim Brown as one of the slayers. The special effects are well done, and the action sequences provide plenty of vicarious violence for the moviegoer. Of course, Arnie has a waft of throwaway one-liners, and we know we are in the hands of experience when he tells Dawson the "he'll be back". Dawson, of course, not knowing whom he is dealing with, blows off the threat.
But the moviegoer knows Arnie will be back, and that he will win the day. This is not an intellectually satisfying film, but it is a good, sold action adventure based on an early story of Steven King's that will keep you amused and entertained. It provided one of a series of sequential hits for Schwarzenegger, and helped to cement his reputation as a bankable superstar. Great stuff for wiling away a snowy winter day. Enjoy!
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on April 18, 2004
You know the movie, so I'll cut to the details of this particular release...

The newly-remastered picture is so much clearer and more vivid than the original release and the DTS soundtrack is an awesome addition. After having heard it, I would've bought it for the DTS, alone. Who knew that a 17-year-old, stereo movie could be remastered to DTS quality and 6.1 surround so well (including very targeted use of the rear channels).

The extras are another story, as many people have stated. The "Lockdown on Main Street" is a thoroughly one-sided political statement. Regardless of anyone's beliefs, it doesn't belong on an action movie DVD. It feels like execs at Artisan were determined to put this documentary out there and picked "The Running Man" from their upcoming catalog as the best suitor.

The "Game Theory" documentary is just a piece in which creators and participants of early reality TV shows pat themselves on the back for their popularity. Perhaps fans of Survivor and other early reality TV will find it interesting, but I didn't.

In summary, the new remastering of the movie is "special," but nothing else on either of the discs is. As someone else said, buy it for the movie. It really is one of the best remastering jobs that I've ever seen (or heard).
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on August 3, 2000
Efficient action movie vehicle for Schwarzenegger, starring as a framed convicted killer who becomes one of the contestants in sick television game show. He's pursued across a devastated Los Angeles in the year 2019 by trained hitmen. Stephen King's novel with its echoes of The Most Dangerous Game, provides an effective framework for Arnie's tough-guy act, and director Glaser expertly orchestrates the state-of-the-art special effects, nasty violence and unpleasant humor.
All I've forgotten is the Girl. All movies like this need a Girl, whose function is to be pulled helplessly behind the hero as he attempts his escape. By casting Maria Conchita Alonso in the role, the filmmakers got more than they bargained for; she remains one of Hollywood's undaunted high spirits, a nice comic counterfoil for Schwarzenegger.
The movie's problem is that all of the action scenes are versions of the same scenario. TV host Dawson introduces a killer and his trademark weapons (electical shock, fire, chain saws, etc.) and then Schwarzenegger faces him in battle. The one element in the movie that is not standard and that does have some energy is the TV show itself, with Dawson's performance as the egotistical, sleaze-bag host.
Playing a character who always seems three-quarters drunk, Dawson chain-smokes his way through backstage planning sessions and then pops up in front of the cameras as a cauldron of false jollity. Working the audience, milking the laughs and the tears, he is not really much different than most genuine game show hosts - and that's the movie's private joke.
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on August 29, 2012
There have been a few movies criticizing or commenting on reality TV shows such as the recent The Hunger Games or the interesting Jim Carrey film, The Truman Show.

Originally written as a Stephen King novel, this film could be considered the granddaddy of reality TV movies.

The Justice Department has an Entertainment Division where they send hardened criminals to participate in the Running Man TV series, hosted by Killian (Richard Dawson, an actual TV host at the time of filming). They send dissidents to participate and they often end up killed by Stalkers while the audiences cheer on and make bets on the outcome.

This dystopian view is quite amazing. The special effects are however reminiscent of Logan's Run in their cheesiness. Still, Arnold getting himself trapped and yet winning against the stalkers, the evil undercurrent that the show gives us, under the watchful eye of Dawson's character, and finally the struggle for freedom against an oppressive government (a bit heavy handedly) makes for some interesting yet thought-provoking moments.

The DVD I had also includes the reality of governments taking over and usurping freedoms, specifically an attack on the Patriot's Act right after 9/11. This piece is quite one-sided and if you're not a believer on conspiracy theories, you can skip this one.

Part of the two-part DVD is a short on the reality show and how it's "here to stay" at least circa 1990s, with interviews by former Survivor stars and how the director of Running Man relates his film to present time reality TV.

Bottom Line: It's a fun film to watch! However the political and opinionated features may be off-putting. Modern reality TV as of 2012 is less pervasive from what I've seen. Not sure if we're headed towards a Roman Gladiator/Coliseum-type reality soon such as the Running Man, but who knows? Recommended.

And don't miss Arnold's first "I'll be back!" line, long before Terminator. :)
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on July 18, 2015
I saw The Running Man in the theater many years ago & it's been on television a lot of late so I thought I'd get it on dvd because the t.v. version is scratchy & I hate commercials! Of course television is a large part of what this movie is about - a terrible game show where stalkers track down and kill criminals and in comes Schwarenegger's character - someone unjustly wronged by the government who after escaping from prison is recaptured & forced on the Running Man show. He fights Stalkers to gain his freedom and is forced into looking for a residents group looking to strike back against the government. Good - silly - definitely a bit on the dark side.
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on August 3, 2015
Casting Richard Dawson as the game show host was a brilliant move. He just had to play himself. He did a fantastic job; almost thought I was watching Family Feud but with more violence. A typical Arnie movie with a few signature lines and a cast of a few veterans from action movies. Maria Conchita Alonso was very good as the unsuspecting victim who gets involved without trying. Mick Fleetwood and Dweezil Zappa also had cameos in the film. Everyone did a very credible job on this although the dialogue could have been better. This is one of the earlier Schwarzenegger movies; at that time, Arnie was wanted for his physical body and not for his verbal skills. They got better the longer he kept making movies.
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on April 3, 2016
Arnold Schwartznegger stars in this thrilling adaptation of a Richard Bachmann (Stephen King) novel about a dystopian society where life revolves around reality game shows, and something as simple as teaching the Constitution can send you to die in a heavy labor camp. Ben Richards is helicopter pilot who is sent to a labor camp after refusing an order to fire on a bread riot. Later, he is wrongfully charged with being the "Butcher of Bakersfield," the man who shot hundreds of rioters down. Richard's conscious gets him into trouble more that once, as an attempt to save his friends lands him on a The Running Man, a game show where most contestants exit in a body bag.

This movie is more than your typical action movie, it is about humanity and human nature. Our society is three steps away from the totalitarian scape in the Running Man, where people bet on who will be the first man to die and lucky audience members win game show prizes when their favorite stalker makes a kill. And yet the goodness of man is still present in Ben Richards and his friends who risk it all to make the truth be heard.

Stephen King is genius for his ability to predict the future, and this version is eerily close to what we live in today. In a time where we have a presidential candidate who is a reality game show host, is The Running Man not too far away?
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on August 5, 2015
I wouldn't say that this is Arnold's best action film, because let's face it, he doesn't really have one, does he?. I also wouldn't say it is his most violent, because that honor goes to SABOTAGE in my book. I said this is like the HUNGER GAMES because the film takes place in an apocalyptic future, with food shortages and the gap between the rich and the poor widening. Both this and the HUNGER GAMES series reflect on our culture practically worshipping violence and gore as entertainment. Both also feature unwilling contestants as contestants, or in the case of the HUNGER GAMES, "tributes".
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on August 15, 2013
This is why you may have gotten that 'deja vu' feeling from watching The Hunger Games movies. Let's see.. a one-sided competition where contestants fight to the death for a national TV audience set in the future? Wasn't THG original? No of course not!

The Running Man is just overall a much better movie, dated special effects and all. You have some of AHNULD's best classic one-liners which is reason enough to get this: "Killian! Here's Sub Zero- Now PLAIN ZEROOOO!!!", "He had to split!", "He hit the spot!", etc. Arnold had a big run in the 80's and 90's with classic action movies and this one's right up there with Terminator, Predator and Commando.

Enter Ben Richards(AHNULD), a helicopter pilot and ex-cop who's been set up as the Butcher of Bakersfield when he refused to fire upon innocent civilans during a riot. Thrown in jail, he eventually finds his way out alongside a few of his prison buddies and catches the eye of Killian who later enlists him as the next contestant of The Running Man show.

Richard Dawson takes a great turn as the sleazy game show host of "The Running Man", which pits society's criminals against ridiculously overpowered American Gladiator-style warriors with names like "Fireball", "Sub Zero", and "Buzzsaw". The catch? If the criminals can make it all the way to the end and stay alive they'll earn their freedom. Only a handful have ever been able to do this. Or have they?
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on March 20, 2004
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 next 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 have 'court-appointed theatrical attorneys' or the entertainment division of the 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.
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