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The Running Man (DVD)

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Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy - Fantasy / Theatrical Release: 1987 / Actors: Paul Michael Glaser, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Conchita Alonso, Yaphet Kotto ... / DVD released 19 August, 2002 at Universal Pictures UK / Features of the DVD: PAL, Widescreen

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

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      24.10.2012 17:34
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      There must be some scientific explanation to why this is not as bad as it should be.

      The Running Man is one of those films that claims to be based on a book by Richard Bachmann (a pseudonym of Stephen King). The reality is somewhat different. Beyond the basic concept and a couple of character names, the book and the film have virtually nothing in common. The book was a dark, broody affair set in a dystopian future. The film became an action vehicle designed to show off Arnold Schwarzenegger's *ahem* unique talents.

      In the near future, America is ruled with an iron fist, the masses controlled and manipulated by TV. The most popular show is The Running Man, a game show in which criminals are hunted down by "Stalkers" and killed on live TV for the delight of the audience. Falsely accused of a crime, former military commander Ben Richards must try to survive the game zone.

      On one level, The Running Man is completely and utterly hopeless. It's badly acted, poorly written and contains very little discernible or sensible plot. Even what little plot exists is pretty generic sci-fi stuff (plucky, hopelessly outnumbered rebels fight against The System). It ignores and tramples on its source material and completely fails to be any kind of satire on the controlling influence of TV (a core theme of the book). Its action sequences are short, badly directed and confusing and the whole thing looks like it was made on a budget of a few hundred quid. Oh, and it is incredibly cheesy

      The 18 Certificate is a bit of a puzzle, too. Despite the violent undertones of the plotline, there is relatively little violence and what there is, is surprisingly tame. Victims die cleanly and quickly (if inventively) and most of the violence is viewed from a distance rather than in full, bloody detail. The Running Man is the point where Arnie started to move away from straight action films and move towards cheesy action, which saw him throwing out one-liners that even Roger Moore's Bond would cringe at. As such, the violence is toned right down and some potentially gruesome moments (a stalker chopped in two with his own chainsaw) are reduced to another opportunity for Arnie to make a terrible, badly delivered quip.

      Action sequences are really quite pathetic and there is no sense of any link between them. One Stalker finds Arnie and is despatched, then another one finds him and is killed and so on until there are no Stalkers left. There's some vague attempt to give the kills a theme of sorts (one set piece takes place on an ice rink with psychotic ice hockey player wielding a sharpened hockey stick), but it's all a bit half-hearted. Each of the Stalkers is given a gimmick which turns them from serious villains into sub-pantomime bad guys. Dressed up in ridiculous costumes with ludicrous special weapons, they fail to scare or to provide any tension.

      These Arnie v Stalker confrontations should be The Running Man's saving grace, but they are badly directed. The low lighting (used to try and establish mood and hide the low budget sets) makes fight sequences confusing so that you spend half the time not really sure what is going on, beyond the fact that Arnie is having a bit of a scrap with someone. In fact, the whole film has a really inconsistent tone, as though it's had about 12 different directors and editors, each with a different idea of the direction the film should take.

      Characterization and acting are exactly as you might expect: non-existent. Arnie is his usual wooden self, gurning his way through and demonstrating all the sense of timing of a suicidal hedgehog trying to cross a motorway. It's hard to believe, but in Maria Conchita Alonso, he has found a co-star who is equally wooden (although rather more good looking for those of us of the male persuasion). Neither can act and, as a result, there is zero chemistry between the pair. Their character arcs are deeply predictable (can you guess what might have happened by the end?) and not very interesting. Fair enough, you don't expect Dickens-like characters in an Arnie film, but it appears that neither actors nor writers can be bothered imbuing their creations with even the most basic elements of personality

      The Stalkers - a potentially interesting bunch - are reduced to little more than futuristic WWF caricatures. They are little more than cameos (lest they upstage Arnie) so their role is generally to appear briefly, demonstrate their gimmick and then be killed by Arnie.

      The one bright spot on the acting front comes from the late Richard Dawson as sleazy game show host Damon Killian. Dawson - a real life game show host from America's version of Family Fortunes - is superb, riffing on his own personality to turn Killian into a ruthless, manipulative yet deeply charismatic S.O.B. Dawson plays the sleazy charm card for all its worth and it's very easy to believe that here is a man who could hold millions of people in thrall and tell them what to think.

      And yet, despite having slagged off almost every aspect of the film and spent nearly a thousand words moaning about it, I still can't bring myself to condemn The Running Man. Yes, it's a terrible film; yes it's full of bad acting, poor plotting, uneven pacing and rubbish characters... but there's also something curiously enjoyable about it. I can't put my finger on why this is the case, but somehow, against all the odds, all the bad elements combine to produce something that, if not good, is at least diverting. It's one of those guilty pleasure films that I stick on from time to time and enjoy against the odds. Perhaps it's the very fact that it's so brainless and utterly stupid that saves it? It's one of those films that you don't have to "watch" in the sense of concentrating. You can stick it on and enjoy the mindless, stupid plot without having to engage a single brain cell.

      Don't get me wrong, I'm not for one minute trying to claim it's a great film or one that I watch on a regular basis (I probably watch it about once every ten years) but, in a brainless sort of way, it somehow manages to be vaguely enjoyable. Put it this way, if I had a choice between sitting through this or the similarly themed Gamer, Arnie would win hands-down every single time.

      Basis Information
      ------------------------
      The Running Man
      1987
      Director: Paul Michael Glaser
      Running time: approx. 101 minutes
      Certificate: 18

      (c) Copyright SWSt 2012

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        12.04.2010 18:45
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        Original idea and very interesting

        The Running Man was originally released way back in 1987 and on DVD a year later and stars Paul Michael Glaser and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead roles. It is a science fiction/fantasy movie that is as good and fascinating now to watch as it was back then. This for me was one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's better efforts in the late 80's and early 90's.

        The movie is based in the future in 2017 so when the film was made it was well in the future, some thirty years ahead. In this time the Government have now taken over the majority of aspects of the ordinary person's daily life in the United States of America. They have taken over and control all forms of communication like TV, radio and the newspapers. People are now like robots controlled by the them and are told what to do almost. No-one knows what is a lie or what's real any more and nobody knows whats right and wrong. As stated all entertainment is contolled by them and what people watch and one of the most popular programmes on is called 'The Running Man'. It is a TV show where outlaws are given a chance to win their freedom by fighting against a series of stalkers. It forms an easy and convenient and easy way to get rid of convicts as almost all of them die at the hands of their opponents. Until now that is when Ben Richards comes along!

        Ben Richards is a convict himself played by Arnold Schwarzenegger, but unlike so many others he has actually been wrongly convicted for a crime he didn't commit. He constanly maintains he is innocent and ends up escaping from prison. The host of the show wants Ben Richards on his show as he believes that the ratings would go sky high due to the sheer size of this man and his strength and he might put up a fight in the battle to the death.

        Therefore, he is forced into the programme as a runner and together with two companions who broke out of jail at the same time, must fight for their lives and attempt to become the first convicts ever to win on the game show.

        It is a very original idea for a movie I thought and is one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's better performances over the years. The fact that they are on this sadistic game show and trying to survive is interesting and intriguing. I found myself transfixed by it all and the movie features a fair bit of action as the movie progresses so you will be kept on your toes. I highly recommend this movie even if you're not much of an Arnie fan as it's great action and fast paced throughout.

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        18.10.2009 18:25
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        An entertaining and inventive action film

        Released in 1987, Running Man is an action film set in the dystopian near-future and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as Ben Richards: a helicopter gunship pilot who is imprisioned after refusing to mow down innocent civilians in a food riot and, after being framed for the subsequent civilian massacre by the miliatary in a government cover-up, sent to prision.

        He escapes, only to find himself re-captured and forced to be a contestant on 'The Running Man', a sadistic gameshow filmed in the ruins of an earthquake-wrecked district of Los Angeles in which unarmed contestants are hunted down and killed by 'stalkers' with their own unique stage names, costumes and weapons. These colourful and cartoonish characters include 'Sub-Zero', a hockey player with a razor-sharp hockey-stick, 'Buzzsaw', a madman with a chainsaw, the flamethrower-wielding 'Fireball' and 'Dynamo', a pompous and overweight opera singer wearing an electrically charged suit that allows him to electrocute his foes to death at will.

        The film acts as an unsubtle satire on the American Media, with lots of fascisitic propaganda similar to that in Paul Verhoven's Starship Troopers, and the Running Man's slimy and heavily charicatured gameshow-host Killian (Richard Dawson) is particulary entertaining to watch. The film has the mix of comedy and over-the top violence that you would expect from an Arnie film, with Arnie spouting his trademark cheesy one-liners such as when he announces, after slicing Buzzsaw in half with his own chainsaw, that "He had to split".

        The budget clearly wasnt massively high but the special effects and clunky 80s presentation (complete with supposedly futuristic but anot incredibly retro 3d graphics within in the gameshow's broadcasts) are all endearing and entertaining, and the film reamains an inventive and cartoonish action romp and a perfect vehicle for Schwarzenegger.

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        16.09.2009 22:18
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        A glorious slice of cheese

        note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room

        The Running Man is one of the many great Arnold Schwarzenegger films released in the late 1980s and the early 1990s. It features him as he became self-aware of the legacy he was creating and embraced it fully, exaggerating those hilarious one liners and just generally being as badass as possible.

        The film takes place in 2017, where America is in tatters and run like a police state, with a dystopia government in place that murders any dissenters. The film is a satire of the media culture where there are no holds barred in the quest for ratings, and opens as a helicopter pilot named Ben Richards (Schwarzenegger) refuses to gun down a rowdy group of rioters who want food. Quite rightly, he protests that they don't have weapons and just want food, but he is arrested for his crimes and soon enough scouted for a game show called The Running Man, where contestants fight for their lives against numerous hidden foes, and if successful, they will supposedly gain their freedom.

        However, he pulls along an unwitting woman for the ride (María Conchita Alonso), and must contend with the various wrestler-like enemies in the zones they are dropped into. It basically involves Arnie viciously murdering a "boss" character, spouting a cheesy one-liner or two, then moving on. Sorry if I've ruined the magic for you, but it is quite simplistic, although nevertheless very entertaining thanks to Arnie's screen presence, and some great chemistry with leading lady Alonso. It's also unmistakably 80s in tone, and if you still need convincing, it has his Predator co-star Jesse "The Body" Ventura in it.

        Whilst not quite as pollished or recognised as some of Arnie's other films, this is still a highly entertaining film. Sure, it's cheesy to a degree, but that's all the fun. Some of the one-liners here are complete gold.

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        27.08.2009 14:25
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        An entertaining & decently made film with interesting issues to raise

        The Running Man is the big screen adaptation of a Stephen King novel. It is set in a dystopian future in the year 2017.

        The US economy has collapsed & the Goverment runs the country as a police state. To entertain the public, the governement show a number of brutally violent TV shows. The most Popular of which is The Running Man. A game show in which convicted criminals are chased by "Stalkers" whose job it is to track them down & kill them before they escape the game grid.

        Ben Richards is a Helicopter Pilot. On patrol one day in Bakersfield California he is ordered to fire on & kill a number of unarmed people who are rioting (for food) in the streets. He refuses because they are unarmed. The rest of the crew are ordered to take Richards into custody & carry out their orders which they do. To cover up the occurances the Government actually reverse the story & say that Richards was ordered not to kill the civilians & disobeyed the order. Richards is dubbed the butcher of Bakersfield & sent to prison for mass murder.

        18 months later, Richards escapes with 2 other prisoners. He goes to his brothers appartment for help, only to find that it is now occupied by a woman Amber Mendez. In an effort to get out of the country, Richards kidnaps Mendez & tries to fly to Hawii only to be captured in the airport.

        Upon capture, Richards is taken to the Television studios in Los Angeles where he is told that his two companions have also been recaptured. He is told that if he does not volunteer for The Running Man, the will be entered in his place. Richards agrees & the action begins.

        I like this film a lot. It could be considered as much a drama as an action film. The plot is good & with every wrong that Richards has done to him you empathise even more. Action scenes are well shot & entertaining. The film also has a lot to say about how far TV studios might go in the name of entertainment.

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          26.08.2009 08:33
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          Action film

          Arnold Schwrzeegger stars in this futuristic film and gets to wear a rather garish yellow jumpsuit that makes him look like an genetically engineered banana that has over dosed on the steroids. He plays Ben Richards a police helicoter pilot in a future world controlled by TV and where the masses are kept entertained by a brutal TV show called The Running Man.

          When he refuses to fire on a crowd rioting over a lack of food he is put on tial and the video evidence against him is changed to distort the truth and he gets sent to a penal jail, managing to escape he is soon recaptured when his hostage played by Eve Mendes raises the alarm, when the direcer ofthe show sees him trying to evade capture h secures his attendance on the show. The basic premise of the TV show is that a convict attempts to complete a course while murderous killers are sent to get him, it is all fimed and the killers are sent one at a time selected by the audience. Outside the studio the people watch on large screens and gamble on the outcome. If the convict survives he gets his freedom however according to the show only three have ever survived.

          I would like to think that this film was made with the directors deliberately trying to come up with the most pantomine of characters to appear otherwise the film is full of some awful actors. The plot really does not make a whole lot of sense really however at times the film is so bad it is just funny with loads of corny lines and it looks like they employed a bunch of WWE wrestlers to play the bad guys.

          At times it reminded me a bit of the film Rollerball with its vision of the publics need for violence being satisfied through, in the case of Rollerball sport, and in this one a series of game shows as in the Running Man programme adverts suggested there were other violent game shows.

          This is a funny film in places, not sure it intends to be but it is, also it is quite violent and gents you will be clutching your privates during one particular fight scene. If you do not take the film seriously it is fine, as a vision of the future it is pathetic but who knows maybe Big Brother could learn from this film and hand out some weapons for the final weeks.

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            24.08.2009 00:05
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            One of my favourite films of the 80s.. Any action fan will love it.

            ********************* Contains Spoilers ***********************

            1987 brought us another action classic, The Running Man. Arnold Schwarzenegger leads the way as the main character Ben Richards, 'The Butcher of Bakersfield'. Set in the not so distant future, reality TV seems to be hugely popular, not too dissimilar to how it is today with the likes of Big Brother being aired yearly.

            The Running Man is the most popular TV show with the highest ratings and though unfairly through outside interests, the US Government, it looks set to stay there.

            Ben Richards is a police officer, convicted of a crime he didn't commit he has been sent to prison. He manages to escape with some help of his other inmates. Even though we know Schwarzenegger as muscular powerhouse this futuristic prison looked like it actually suited him because it had the inmates doing real manual labour, busting their butts unlike the holiday camps we have set up over here where they get to play Playstation.

            On escaping the prison he returns back to the city where his brother used to live, instead of his brother he finds an attractive Amber Mendez. This is a woman that misjudges him, though to be fair on her he has been tarnished with a sadistic nickname. Through her actions he gets arrested at a terminal. Eventually he is sent to an individual called Damon Killian, The Running Man's presenter. Because of his connections within government, which uses media to shape the attitude of society and which is also obviously corrupt he manages to get Richards onto his show.

            The Running Man gives away what the game show is in the name, criminals are chosen as the contestants and they must survive a number of game zones in order to be set free, or so they think thats what will happen...

            Much like Big Brother you can expect to find camera set all over the gaming area. This is so the viewers can observe the gruesome deaths the game show offers. It is also so the game show directors know every footstep of their so called contestants, with this knowledge use this to their advantage and can manipulate certain outcomes.. There is so much to see that I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't yet watched it but you are in for a treat.

            Each zone has a 'gladiator' that they have to get through before progressing. I won't say they are but each plays a great role and the dialogue shared between them and Richards is classic Arnold. One liners that you won't forget and really add to the film. Yes, you will the class line "I'll be back", this is used at precisely the right moment.

            Even though it was based on the book by Stephen King I don't think they could have made a better adaptation. I also think the film was way ahead of its time and that's why it is still so well remembered today. Lengthed perfectly, it doesn't drag for a minute and covers everything that is needed to make it what it is.

            If you want to see a classic Arnold Schwarzenegger performance then you couldn't ask for a better movie.

            5 out of 5.

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              23.08.2009 22:01
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              Mr. Richards, I'm your court-appointed theatrical agent.

              I often refer to this film based on a Stephen King story when I watch reality television, where will it all end, how will it evolve with the way we currently live, well this film is an almost dystopian idea of what could happen and was written before television took such a slant.

              In a not to distant future, convicted criminals are forced to take part as bait in a hideous TV manhunt. When one of the hunters, Ben Richards, refuses to fire on helpless citizens he is forced into the Running Man game as a contestant.

              This film is a vision of what could be, based loosely on a Stephen King book it is a scathing satire on our society, while it does miss with a lot of its targets, overall it is a thought provoking and utterly exciting action film with some humourous touches and some really cool action sequences.
              Arnold Schwarzenegger plays the virtous Richards a man sick of his role in life, forced to confront danger at every corner. This film has strangely become more relevant, using reality television as a form of capital punishment, the film does put some big ideas in front of us, however, it is a strange film as it is slightly damaged by Schwarzeneggers over reliance on his one-liners and some pretty shoddy effects and sets.

              The action is dangerous and claustrophobic as we watch the programme which ordinary people watch, we see the stars of the show are the trained killers who hunt down criminals and kill them on live tv, its kind of like a pumped up version of Gladiators with more explosions and death.

              I liked the film quite a bit in its ideas, its fun and involving, but the sets do look dated as do the effects, the characters are muscle bound types so popular in eighties films and the script could really have been adapted by a chimpanzee as it takes some great ideas and hams them up to the max, overall its an adequate film that has a great central theme and is mindless fun but lacks the killer touch to make it anything more than watchable.

              Cast:


              Arnold Schwarzenegger ... Ben Richards
              Maria Conchita Alonso ... Amber Mendez
              Yaphet Kotto ... William Laughlin
              Jim Brown ... Fireball
              Jesse Ventura ... Captain Freedom
              Erland van Lidth ... Dynamo (as Erland Van Lidth)
              Marvin J. McIntyre ... Harold Weiss
              Gus Rethwisch ... Buzzsaw (as Bernard Gus Rethwisch)
              Professor Toru Tanaka ... Subzero
              Mick Fleetwood ... Mic
              Dweezil Zappa ... Stevie
              Richard Dawson ... Damon Killian
              Karen Leigh Hopkins ... Brenda
              Sven-Ole Thorsen ... Sven (as Sven Thorsen)
              Edward Bunker ... Lenny (as Eddie Bunker)
              Bryan Kestner ... Med Tech
              Anthony Pena ... Valdez (as Anthony Penya)
              Kurt Fuller ... Tony
              Ken Lerner ... Agent (as Kenneth Lerner)
              Dey Young ... Amy
              Rodger Bumpass ... Phil Hiton (as Roger Bumpass)
              Donna Hardy ... Mrs. McArdle
              Lynne Marie Stewart ... Edith Wiggins
              Bill Margolin ... Leon

              The DVD is £3.99 on Play.com and includes:

              * Theatrical Trailer
              * Interactive Menu
              * Scene Access

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              30.04.2009 18:11
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              Futuristic gameshow violence brought to you in Arnie-o-vision!

              THE RUNNING MAN

              Stephen King, you could presume, has a certain degree of foresight. Whilst not exactly identical to his novel The Running Man (written under his pseudonym Richard Bachman and published in 1982), the likes of Big Brother, Shipwrecked and any other hopeless reality television programme you care to mention certainly conforms to his future society where the masses lap up reality game shows. Yet the game shows in King's world are often deadly to the contestants despite the big money prizes on offer, making it all the more intriguing for the bloodthirsty audiences of the future to enjoy. Imagine being treated to the likes of watching some nobody looking for their 15 minutes of fame "Climbing for Dollars", before they slip and fall into a pit of wild dogs and are torn to shreds by Mutley and Co. for being an utterly miserable failure. Joy! Alas, the pillars of society haven't crumbled enough to allow for such a tele-visual treat to pass, so in the meantime we'll just have to stick with watching the 1987 film adaptation starring Arnold Schwarznegger running around in a yellow leotard instead!

              Wrongly convicted for a massacre of food rioters in Bakersfield and following his recapture after an audacious prison escape, Ben Richards (Arnie) is spotted by egomaniac game show host Damon Killian (Richard Dawson) as a talent for the countries leading ratings winner - The Running Man. Placed in a self-contained environment divided into sectors, the contestants - usually criminals offered the chance of a reprieve if they manage to survive - are hunted through the playing arena by 'stalkers' charged to dispose of the contestants in uber-violent ways conducive to promoting the watching audiences satisfaction. Forced to participate in the public execution show against his will and finding that not everything is as it seems to the public's perception, Ben has to survive the 'stalkers' hunting him down and the programme's other deceptions in order to escape with his life intact.

              The Running Man is your typical sci-fi popcorn claptrap that the eighties and early nineties were highly effective at churning out (see anything starring Rutger Hauer). Whilst it features the essence of King's original parody of the media and public perception, it's a theme that's handled about as deftly as a quick kick to the bollocks. Instead, it seems like someone threw a bomb at the script and gave the detonator to a monkey, resulting in little more than simplistic action thriller bobbins being pieced together from the resulting destruction. If you were expecting some cerebral sci-fi concepts to take precedence based on the source novel, you'll be bitterly disappointed when you find the film is actually quite slim, filled with Arnie's cheesy one-liners, some terrible eighties production values and various degrees of hyper-violence ranging from exploding heads to the splicing of some ones innards with a chainsaw.

              But that's really where the joy of The Running Man lies. Everyone knows what to expect in an action-flick from the world's most famous Austrian, and this is pretty much a vehicle for Arnie with all semblance of King's intelligent framing removed. Catchphrases such as "I'll be back" ("only in a re-run", retorts Killian) delivered in monochrome fashion, Sven Ole-Thorsen, an unlikely female companion (Maria Conchita Alonso), hilarious Hawaiian shirts, some latent homo-erotic machismo (just look at the tight leotards) and Arnie kicking arse against an assortment of big-guys is all present and correct. Indeed, the range of inventive stalkers on show gives The Running Man a distinct edge. From the ice-hockey stick wielding Sub-Zero, to the chainsaw wielding Buzzsaw, to Jesse Ventura's fantastic hairpiece as Captain Freedom; it makes for some enthralling computer game styled encounters which often end in grizzly fashion followed by a timeless Arnie one-liner. Barbed wire neck-breakage ("what a pain in the neck") and impalement on spikes are the order of the day here and the action is plentiful, frantic and fun throughout. After all, this is what Arnie does best!

              If the stalkers are despicably violent then Richard Dawson seems to be having a great time being just plain old despicable. Spoofing his game show host background slightly, his smarmy studio audience revelling is a delight. The 'Come On Down' aspect as audience members guess which stalker is going to make the next kill, whilst Killian hands out Running Man board games as prizes, is the perfect antithesis to Arnie's begotten hero getting his arse whooped in the desolate game zone. It's an excellent contrast and Dawson makes for one of Arnie's most memorable villains - especially as he seemingly out-quips the muscle-bound behemoth throughout.

              Alas, while this is all well and good, compared to the likes of Predator, The Terminator and Total Recall (Arnie flicks where the action didn't thoroughly overwhelm the sci-fi concepts) there's certainly that little hint of real quality missing from The Running Man. Perhaps it's due to the incredibly dated look. For a film attempting to predict the future, it becomes simply far too humorous to take a future so stuck in the eighties seriously. Perhaps it's the fault of director Paul Michael Glaser; Starsky is certainly no Cameron, McTierrnan or bonkers mad Verhoeven when it comes to giving a little bit of substance to the much maligned Arnie style. Whilst a final monologue from Killian regarding the viewing habits of Americans just about touches on some interesting thematic ideas, it's simply too little too late. Perhaps when all is said and done, despite the hyper-violence, despite the gore-laden deaths and despite Arnie quipping his way through the film, it's all just a little too bland and samey to be anything more than a bog-standard action flick.

              Still, saying that, you're not going to see an operatic tenor with electrodes up his arse anywhere else. Or, for that matter, Mick Fleetwood leading a rebellion of freedom fighters against the tyranny of the television shows broadcaster - which is like totally bizarre! It's not an instant Arnie classic, but in moments like this, sitting alongside Ventura's comedy hairpiece and Arnie's genuine likeability, it still makes for a rather enjoyable couple of hours. And it's infinitely more entertaining than watching a bunch of deranged drongos on E4 do nothing more than bully each other pathetically of an evening! It can only be a matter of time until "Climbing for Dollars" becomes a reality for these idiots...

              Overall - Although certainly showing its age The Running Man does what Arnie does best. Subtle this is not and ultimately fairly one-dimensional, but that's half the fun!

              Director: Paul Michael Glaser

              Screenplay: Stephen E. de Souza

              Cast:

              Arnold Schwarzenegger ... Ben Richards
              Maria Conchita Alonso ... Amber Mendez
              Yaphet Kotto ... William Laughlin
              Jim Brown ... Fireball
              Jesse Ventura ... Captain Freedom
              Erland van Lidth ... Dynamo (as Erland Van Lidth)
              Marvin J. McIntyre ... Harold Weiss
              Gus Rethwisch ... Buzzsaw (as Bernard Gus Rethwisch)
              Professor Toru Tanaka ... Subzero
              Mick Fleetwood ... Mic
              Dweezil Zappa ... Stevie
              Richard Dawson ... Damon Killian
              Karen Leigh Hopkins ... Brenda

              Rating: 18 (Language, violence and some nasty, but well conceived, death scenes. No nudity though, which is disappointing!!)

              Running Time: 101 minutes

              Genre: Action/Adventure/Thriller


              © clownfoot, April 2009.

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                01.04.2009 04:04
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                Overall it's a decent film and worth seing, with a nice feel-good factor at the end

                Plot Summary:

                "The Running Man" is set in 2017 in which the world economy has collapsed, society has become a police state, and all cultural activity such as art, communications and music has been banned. A violent game show called "The Running Man" has become the most popular show in history, in which the contestants are convicts and are hunted by professional killers called stalkers, each with their own theme. Ben Richards (Arnold Schwarzenegger) has been framed, convicted of murdering tens of people. After spending 18 months at a labor camp for his alleged crime, Richards manages to escape, only to be caught soon after and forced to appear on "The Running Man" as a contestant. Joined by several of his friends, Richards must confront the stalkers he encounters and fight for his life.


                My Opinion:

                The plot of "The Running Man" is a good one, and pretty original too. I would like to have the film spend more time on explaining the relationship between the rebels and the government, and the rebels history of attempting to crack the code and jam the network, rather than spending most of the time on the game show. However, it's still an enjoyable film and I doubt that any fan of the sci-fi/action genre would feel that watching this film would be a waste of their time. One of the best things about the film is that Richards is thrown into a game show in which he is fully expected by the host and the crowd to be killed, but against the odds, he somehow manages to get the upper hand and defeat his opponents.

                Schwarzenegger puts in a good performance, and the film contains action and suspense, though not nearly as much as his previous film "Predator". Perhaps one of things that subtracts from the quality of "The Running Man" is that soon after Richards is the game show, the plot becomes fairly predictable, though there are one or two nice twists. The theme tune that plays at various points during the film is worth mentioning, as it is a good piece of music, which I think really captures the feel of the dystopian world.

                I few words about the violence of the film. "The Running Man" is rated 18, though i feel it could have gotten away with being a 15.

                This is one of the only Schwarzenegger films where no one actually gets shot, which is rather refreshing.
                [Edit: This is incorrect, as several gun battle scenes are featured in the film. I think when I wrote this statement, I was referring to "within the game show arena", but even then, it's not 100% accurate.

                The language is fairly tame, with some occasional strong language.

                There are a few scenes in the film which I would consider gory (I counted 3), but when compared to the likes of "Predator", this is fairly tame.

                Also, I really like the end of this movie, when Richards puts Killian into the chair and he zooms through the tunnels crashing through a billboard which features himself advertising "cadre cola", after which Richards plays off the product's slogan by saying, "Well that hit the spot". Immediately following this is a break into Jon Parr's beautiful rock ballad, "Restless Heart", accompanied by scenes of the crowd's delight as they cheer Richard's name, which is a great moment for Richard's because he has finally managed to clear his name.

                A few other exciting and noteworthy scenes involve Richards going one on one with a stalker who has a chainsaw and against a stalker on skates with a bladed hockey stick.

                Highly recommended, a must see for all Schwarzenegger fans and fans of the action/sci-fi genre.

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                Stars: Arnold Schwarzenegger
                Running Time: 100 Mins
                Age Rating: 18 (Strong language, strong violence)
                Aspect Ratio: 16:9
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                  15.02.2009 16:04
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                  The Running Man is an interesting satire of contemporary American television.

                  The most frightening thing about The Running Man in this age of "reality TV" obsession is that it might actually come true. Set in the year 2017, and loosely based on Stephen King's novel of the same name, capitalism has gone completely blood thirsty; the department of justice now believes the best course of action for criminals is to forward them to a popular game show where gladiators hunt them down for kills in front of a live (cheering) audience.

                  See, America loves television, and of course the way to get the ratings is to give the people what they want- that's the philosophy of the show's creator and host Damon Killian (Richard Dawson). Thankfully though, the proposed concept of the soon-to-be future won't give us any sleepless nights primarily due to Schwarzenegger's typical wisecracking remarks, which keep the movie easily digestible and immensely satisfying throughout its two hour running time.

                  Arnie stars as Ben Richards, a cop framed for a bloody massacre of innocent people. After seeing him escape from prison, Killian sees Richards' potential and opts to put him on the show. Of course, things start to go horribly wrong when Richards sadistically butchers the gladiators before they can even get close to him; thus, inspiring an underground resistance movement to jam the network satellite and develop their freedom.

                  Most would turn their nose up at a Stephen King adaptation, but The Running Man is an interesting satire of contemporary American television, which, considering it was released in 1987, was quite ahead of its time. Arnold's puns are periodically hilarious, and perhaps his best on film, which make for an all round enjoyable experience.

                  The only thing that confuses me is the film's attempt at developing a relationship between Richards and Amber (the feisty Maria Conchita) within the final few seconds, to the sound of 80's pop trash. Me thinks all that running around in those sexy little uniforms must've gone to their head.

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                  16.01.2009 17:38
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                  A great film if you want to veg out in front of the box.

                  This is a classic Schwarzennger film.

                  Set in the future, Arnies character Ben Richards is a helicopter police pilot who is set up after he refuses to fire upon innocent civilians rioting due to lack of food. He is sent to a prison but, as Arnie does, he escapes. He is re-captured and sent to The Running Man, a television game show where convicted criminals have to get through a labrynth and face off against various gladiators. If they survive their prize is freedom.

                  This film has a great script and an original story line (at the time). The setting shows a bleak future where people are obsessed by television reality programs and are fed mis-information. This is a great, old fashioned action film which doesn't try to be anything more than entertaining. It's a great, adrenalin filled hour and 30 minutes which is well worth watching.

                  The film is full of the usual Arnie one liners - he had to split,I don't do requests, etc. But the whole film is very enjoyable, especially now where action films have CGI effects for the simplest of things.

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                    13.01.2009 18:55
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                    Simply spectacular.

                    The Running Man is one of those films that came out at a time when studios seemed to be buying up books/novellas, and making completely different films out of them (also see: Lawnmower Man). Loosely based on Stephen King's/Richard Bachman's short story, this follows Arnie's action packed adventures through a killing gameshow as he tries to clear his name.

                    Quite simply, this is genius. In terms of pure action roles (I'm not counting T2 in that), I think this ties with Total Recall as his best role. I know Commando and Predator fans will be shocked, but for me, those two are his pinnacle.

                    The fight scenes are excellently worked, the characters (although stereotypical villains in todays computer games and films) are interesting and unique (Dynamo in particular is superb) and Killian is just so punchable as the smug and evil host of it all.

                    The sets are suitably dystopian, and Glaser uses Verhoeven like injections of horrific comedy to liken the mood (Climbing for Dollars being a particular favourite of mine).

                    As usual, Arnie and his cohorts have a myriad of quotable lines to remember and use at appropriate times, and the action never feels forced or rushed.

                    In short, one of Arnie's greatest roles and essential purchase for anyone who considers themself to be a real man.

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                      21.10.2008 10:23
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                      A mindless violence kind of film, good though

                      This movie is loosely based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. Thus the story is pretty good!

                      Set in a fictional future where convicts have the chance to be released from prison if they can get through a game - the twist? Each level of the game has a very dangerous man trying to kill you and you have to kill him to continue. Most people get killed by level 5, and each area is strewn with bodies.

                      It is extremely enjoyable to watch how the un-armed Anie and the rest of the gang manage to kill their opponents.

                      The movie is not as good as the book. The book tried to present a point of view, and a worrying one, of a possible future. The movie is more of the pointless violence type.

                      The story is good, lots of violence. OK it is starting to look a little dated and the acting isn't great - but it is a great classic for any Arnie fans! Enjoy!

                      This review is published under the same name at ciao

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                        03.10.2008 15:59
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                        Worth a Look

                        'The Running Man' is somewhat of an oddity. Based on the novel by Richard Bachman; which in fact is a pseudonym for popular horror writer Stephen King, it explores the potential power and misuse of the media. On the other hand, it's a spectacularly eighties action vehicle for one of the great icons of the genre: Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger. 'The Running Man' is one of the more overlooked gems from Arnie's eighties exploits, being overshadowed by much bigger films like 'The Terminator', 'Commando' and 'Predator' to name a few, which is a shame because its probably the most interesting of the bunch.

                        It is the year 2017 and a totalitarian government uses the media; or more specifically television to control/subdue its underlings by pumping out sadistic, violent game shows and blood sports (an echo back to Roman times and gladiators perhaps). 'The Running Man' is the cream of the crop of these TV shows and is the most successful program in history. But as its popularity (and its ratings) start to peak off, the show needs to find some way of boosting the entertainment and therefore the ratings.

                        Meanwhile (in fact before), we meet police officer Ben Richards (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who refuses an order to massacre people during a food riot. The massacre goes on regardless and he is wrongly accused of being the killer. Dubbed as the "Butcher of Bakersfield", Richards breaks out of prison with a little help from some of his pals and goes in search of his brother to help him escape the city. When Richards gets to his brother's apartment he discovers that someone else is living there; a girl named Amber who writes jingles for the Network. She promptly turns him in and before you can say "re-education", Richards is made to compete in 'The Running Man'.

                        The concept for 'The Running Man' show is quite simple. Contestants (convicts) are inserted into the game zone, which spawns thousands of square blocks underground - the remains of a great earthquake that had happened in the past - are have to get to the other end of the course within three hours. However, audience members at random get to select 'Stalkers' to track down and eventually kill the contestants. 'Stalkers' are kind of like the house robots from robot wars, brutal killing machines with unfair advantage. The Stalker named Buzzsaw for instance wields a chainsaw and drives a motorcycle. If contestants get to the end of the game zone, prizes can include a reduced jail sentence or even a full pardon.

                        While not the best of its brethren, 'The Running Man' offers fun and satire in equal measure proving (yet again) that Schwarzenegger was the greatest contender in the eighties action icon arena. Every botched line is golden. Every comeback zings so ridiculously, you can't help but chuckle inanely even during (supposedly) the most serious of scenes - "Go ahead, won't show on this shirt" is one of my favourite Schwarzenegger one liners of all time. The costume he is made to wear for the TV show is equally silly and adds to this film's comedic camp value.

                        As for the actual story itself, it's basically watered down Orwell - evil government subverts the media to subdue the masses and so on. However, it veers dangerously close to self parody territory. This is indeed a film that needs to be taken with a handful of salt. That's not to say that there's nothing worthwhile. Like fellow eighties sci.fi satire 'RoboCop', 'The Running Man' is a larger than life exploration of how ridiculous some of the key American institutions are. In 'RoboCop' - its consumerism, in 'The Running Man'- it's the fickle falsehood of television and how it can brainwash the minds of the many. The old adage of "don't believe everything you see on TV" rings very true here. This is definitely the case when Amber discovers two conflicting records concerning the guilt/innocence of Ben Richards. The 'raw footage' copy shows what actually happened (a replay of the film's scene) and the 'edited for television' version is a clever re-cutting that portrays Richards as the "Butcher of Bakersfield".

                        As for the action junkie, there's plenty to sink the teeth into - a huge prison riot/escape, endless match ups with the Stalkers, each with their own speciality (one has a flamethrower and jet pack, another fires electricity from his hands etc), a brawl between Arnie and Jesse "The Body" Ventura (for the uninitiated, he's the "I ain't got time to bleed" guy from 'Predator') and of course; a lot of running. The post-apocalyptic landscape of the game zone adds a fresh dynamic, with ruined buildings and mountains of scrap and debris forming the battleground to the silliness. Director Paul Michael Glaser keeps tongue very firmly in cheek.

                        On the downside, it would be fair to say that this film hasn't aged as well as other films from the time period, the aforementioned 'RoboCop' for example. One word of warning: this film is very, very, very, very eighties. Synthesised scores and love songs dominate not to mention numerous dance sequences (beginning, half time and end of the TV show) as choreographed by one hit wonderess Paula Abdul. These things can be forgiven as there is a scene in the film where a captive Schwarzenegger stabs a quote unquote "court appointed theatrical agent" in the back with his own pen whilst signing a contract. That's almost worth the price of admission alone.

                        I do enjoy 'The Running Man'. I have a bit of a soft spot for it as it was the first that I saw that has an 18 certificate. Its not high art but it certainly does the business entertainment wise. This was back in the day when big silly action films were done quite well, with plenty of violence and well timed quips about how the bad guy should "stick around" when being killed by a throwing knife. Although I do recommend this film, I don't necessarily recommend hunting for this. It's the kind of title you'll probably see in HMV and the like for around a fiver or maybe less. However, if you see it crop up in the TV guide, I would tell you to make the effort. View as a comedy for best results.

                        Film Specs
                        Director: Paul Michael Glaser
                        Year: 1987
                        Language: English
                        Time Approx: 100 minutes
                        Certificate: 18

                        -Markula-

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