36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
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!
59 of 73 people found the following review helpful
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).
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
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.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2002
The Running Man tells of a future world where convicted fellons are put on a game show "The Running Man" and are placed in arenas along with psychotic stalkers who are there to kill these guys in record time all for the entertainment of the American people.
The film is great but not perfect. I love the way the film portrays society, as basically a bunch of mindless and gullable media slaves. Which some would argue is true for our society today, where we believe everything served to us on television and radio, not considering that maybe the people behind these stories are money hungry, heartless liars. It was almost like a future version of the Roman Empire, where upper class Romans found the most violent and bloody sport with slaves getting butchered in an arena as pure entertainment. This film uses the likes of rich corporate adults as the shows mainstream audience loving fellons get butchered the same way.
The films special effects are ahead of its time, with believable gore and movie props like futuristic cars and buildings.
Richard Dawson is great as the gameshow's host, as a lovable teddy bear on screen, and a greedy, self-involved liar backstage. The remaining cast do thier jobs well, although they could have found more talented actors. Arnold is Arnold, without him, this movie wouldn't have the box-office appeal that it did, nor would it have the appeal on todays audience that it did. And even though his one liners after each death border on stupidity in this film (with a lot of the other dialogue), his Arnoldness simply makes up for it.
This movie was a great and unique idea and it was executed just fine, I own this dvd and like it a lot. Although, giving us simply a trailer as an extra simply sucks. I wouldve like to hear some commentary on it at least. Oh well...
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
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.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2003
"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 than watch Arnold Schwarzenegger get to knock some skulls together in a gladiator arena? Exactly.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2008
Picture this. Ben Richards (Schwarzenegger) is on chopper patrol when an order comes through to fire into an area where inoccent citizens stand. The order of course is obsured, and Richards declines, aborting the mission when his superior passes on orders to Richards' co-pilots to take control of the craft and resume the mission. In a struggle to do what is right, Richards attempts to to keep his co-pilots away from the controls, but fails in doing so as he is simply outmaned. About a year or two later, enter the game show "The Running Man." On the screen in front of a large live audience, we see the events that night of Richards aboard the chopper. The order comes through to not fire, as there are simply too many innocents in the area. Richards defies orders and proceeds to shoot down a number of innocents and destroy that particular area of town. This is just one of the twisted setups for the most famous form of televised entertainment in the year 2017, hosted by David Killian (Richard Dawson).
Running Man was released in 1987, taking place in 2017. It's pretty much an established fact that any 80's film taking place in the future usually looks like an even more 80's future. No different here, Running Man is filled with cheesy costumes, lots of neon flashly lights, and a dowtown Los Angeles that looks nothing like the city today. And like many movies set in the future, it's not a happy place. The economy is bust, and the living conditions we see are pretty downright nasty. Unless you are Richard Killian, who's gameshow has probably made him the most famous (and a very rich) man in America. Little does the majority know that "He is lying to you". Killian's choice of contestants are whoever he can get his hands on, however, his audience thinks these are scumbag criminals who deserve to die at the hands of the "Stalkers" - the guys who chase those contestants down and do the killing, in style of course. Richards catches Killian's eye, and he has no difficulty getting ahold of him. Along with his two buddies and a girl he meets along the way (Maria Conchita Alonso), Richards is caught in the deadly game show dueling it out with all types of Stalkers.
The story is almost non-existent, but the idea behind the film is rather entertaining. The game show scenes are packed with excitement and screaming fans, and Richard Dawson given his real life experience makes an excellent host (though he's a bit more evil in the movie's role). The dialouge and acting, as expected, is well below par, but the Arnie one-liners just keep on coming. "Hey Christmas Tree. Follow me light bulb." I mean, only Arnold could say something like that. The action scenes are fun too, with Stalkers dressed up in ridiculous costumes (the guy really does look like a Christmas tree) they also each have their own abilities, such as being armed with a chainsaw, a deadly hockey stick, or even the ability to shoot electricity (huh?) Yes you heard right, but I'm telling you, it's fun. Especially when we get to see the battle of the govenors. Though it's not an actual fight (you'll see what I mean) Arnold takes on Jesse Ventura aka Captain Freedom...."No pain, no gain!"
It's a downright guilty pleasure. Arnold fans must add to their collection. It has all the weaknesses of a B-movie, but carries all the positives as well. As silly as it is, Running Man is a good hour and half of mindless fun.
Acting - 2.5
Action - 4
Characters - 3.5
Story - 3
Overall - 3.5
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
In the near future of 2019, Television and the media has taken over the lives of many people as they watch the new century's most popular TV show which is a deadly game show entitled " The Running Man", in which sadistic gameshow host Killian ( Richard Dawson) is forced to have convicts in a large urban maze to reach the goal but sends fiendish troops called " The Stalkers" who murder the contestants off the air. However, Ben Richards ( Arnold Schwartzenger) is a former police officer accused of a major crime he didn't commit is on the loose so he can prove that he has been framed, however he is now a contestant on the cruel game show as he must battle the stalkers, prove his innocence, reach the goal and try to expose the truth of the show and how TV is controlling everyone.
Fascinating and entertaining futuristic action-packed Science Fiction adventure that has gained a cult following since it's 1987 release and is based on a Steven King novel. Schwartzenger delievers hard as Richards along with Yaphett Kotto ( Alien) co-starring, there is some satire on the media, this is definitely one of my all time favorite movies.
The 2-Disc DVD is a major improvement over the original release with better sound & Picture that is just great, it's extras are very good such as two featurettes on " Reality Show beginnings" and " about privacy issues in today's 9/11 society", two commentaries, trailer and info about the stalkers.
I highly recommend this movie to lovers of cult movies, Sci-fi, action and fun movies!
Also recommended: " The Fifth Element", " Battle Royale", " Dark City", " Total Recall", "Death Race 2000", "Rollerball ( Original)", " The Lawnmower Man", "1984", " Blade Runner", " The Matrix Trilogy", " Commando", " Predator 1 & 2", " The Terminator Trilogy", " Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky", " Surviving the Game", " Con Air", "The Warriors", "Assault on Precinct 13 ( both versions)", " Starship Troopers", " Big Trouble in Little China", " Escape from New York", "Escape from L.A.".
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2005
The year is 2017. America is ruled by a brutal police state. The government owns the media and lies to the public through it. Music, movies and any another art form is censored. America's favorite television show: Running Man. A game show where convicted murderers and menaces to society fight it out in a Gladiator style battle to the death against "Stalkers" for a chance to win prizes like a trial by jury or an acquittal. Based on a short novel by Stephen King's pseudonym Richard Bachman, 1987's The Running Man should be an entertaining movie, which it is, but should also be a reminder of how grateful we should be to live in a free society. The problem is that it doesn't. It's more of a grim prediction which isn't too hard to imagine in 12 years with the way things are going. With America's desensitized obsession with violence and knack for reality tv, it isn't hard to see the two being combined in the years to come as our morale continues to decay. Just last month there was a swat raid on a perfectly legal electronic music event near Salt Lake City, Utah where police used excessive force at a peaceful gathering. Police also used excessive force just recently at the annual Punk Rock Picnic in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Even after that, the site musicisnotacrime org posted information about police brutality at the event and their site was attacked and shut down by excessive downloading and bandwidth drainage where the IP number addressed back the Kenosha police's website. The police obviously wanted the site silenced and the Freedom of Speech held no concern. And let's not all forget about the Patriot Act or the Rave Act. Are the ideas in The Running Man far from the way things are today? Sadly to say, they are not.
Enough ranting, The Running Man is a great movie and can still hold my attention after all these years. One of Arnold's best for sure. That's it for me.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2005
It was between this or the second (but technically the first) Indiana Jones movie or this. I was surprised at myself, wanting to watch Indiana Jones, but it was too long. So this went on instead. I was forewarned about it being too eighties, but I think after you get warned about these things, they're don't jump out as much at you. Only the terrible hair & outfits, but they're only really the noticable things.
Stephne King movies have a habit of not being very good. Carrie & The Green Mile are exceptions, along with this. This film is loosely based on a novel written by Stephen King that he penned under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman. He wrote the story in 72 hours, and it was published with virtually no changes.
Like 1984, this book/movie was way ahead of its time, and is much more relevant now, than it was then. The ending from the book to movie as changed, and I'm quite curious to find out what happened originally.
There are some great lines in this, mainly spoken by Arnie himself and some of the best are:
Ben Richards: Killian! I'll be back!
Damon Killian: Only in a rerun.
Damon Killian: You b*****d! Drop dead!
Ben Richards: I don't do requests.
Ben Richards: Uplink underground, uplink underground. If you say that one more time, I'll uplink your uplink your ass, and you'll be underground!
Ben Richards: [after strangling Sub-Zero with barbed wire)] What a pain in the neck.
Amber: [after Richards cut Buzzsaw in half with a chain saw] What happened to Buzzsaw?
Ben Richards: He had to split.
For a supposed special editon, there's not much in the way of extras, but they include: commentary by producer Tim Zinnemann, director Paul Michael Glaser and executive producer Rob Cohen; "Lockdown on Main Street": a documentary about the current state of privacy and criminal issues in a post-9/11 society; "Game Theory": an inside look at reality-TV programming and its cultural impact on society; "Meet the Stalkers": obtain inside information about the deadliest foes in The Running Man.
If you like Arnie, you'll probably adore this movie. Unless you're one of those people who complains about everything slightly eighties in it.