In this action thriller based on an early story by Stephen King, Los Angeles in the year 2017 has become a police state in the wake of the global economy's total collapse. All forms of entertainment are government controlled, and the most popular show on television is an elaborate game show in which convicted criminals are given a chance to escape by running through a gauntlet of brutal killers known as "Stalkers." Anyone who survives is given their freedom and a condominium in Hawaii, so when a wrongly accused citizen (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is chosen as a contestant, all hell breaks loose. Cheesy sets and a slimy role for game-show host Richard Dawson make this violent mess of mayhem a candidate for guilty pleasure; it is the kind of movie that truly devoted Arnold fans will want to watch more than once. And check those credits--choreography by Paula Abdul! "--Jeff Shannon"
Like many of the Governor's other DVD releases (Total Recall
, and The Terminator 2: Judgment Day
, to name a few) The Running Man
has gone through various technical and bonus upgrades. Fans will not be disappointed with Lions Gate's latest, double-disc release of The Running Man
(Special Edition). This is the first anamorphic (1.85:1) release and the first time the film has been presented in DTS 6.1 ES and Dolby Digital 5.1 EX. Without a doubt, this version is the best-looking and -sounding edition available. This is also the only edition to include a feature-length commentary; in this case, it's two. The first is with director Paul Michael Glaser and producer Tim Zinneman, the second with executive producer Rob Cohen. Both are geared more toward production than the themes and stories presented in the film, which is more or less appropriate considering The Running Man
is first and foremost an action film that incorporates a few socio-political themes (reality TV, subjective media, and life in a high-security governmental state). Looking at the documentaries included in this set, however, you would think it was the other way around. Though well produced, the documentaries seem a little out of place. "Lockdown on Main Street" focuses on current post-9/11 issues with privacy and criminals. Though there is a common thread between the film and current events, using an '80s action film to discuss the controversial issue of privacy in a post-9/11 world comes across as a little tacky. The second documentary, "Game Theory," which focuses on reality TV and its cultural impact, is a little more on the mark and more relevant, but at times feels like a bit of a stretch. All in all, The Running Man
(Special Edition) pretty much has got everything the Schwarzenegger and Richard Bachman (a.k.a. Stephen King) fan could want, other than an Arnold and King commentary. --Rob Bracco