The Running Man (1987)
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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.
In the near future, Arnold stars as Ben Richards, a wrongly convicted man coerced into playing 'The Running Man', a deadly TV game show where people have to keep moving to try and escape brutal deaths at the hands of the 'Stalkers'. Of course, people are expected to die eventually and its up to Arnold to prove the system wrong.
I haven't read the Stephen King book, but this is a great film regardless, one of Arnold's best. He does what he does best in the action man role, delivering death with unforgettable one-liners. Classics are probably the 'He was a real pain in the neck' after strangling a guy with barb wire, and 'He had to split!', referring to whereabouts he just chain sawed someone vertically. Dawson is perfectly irritating as the TV presenter, and all the 'Stalkers' are suitably camp. The action is violent, but its an action film. That's the point. The film is fast paced, and at 90 minutes it doesn't overstay its welcome.
With Starsky and Hutch's Paul Michael Glaser at the helm, and made in the wake of the success of The Terminator, previously this film was probably seen as just another mindless action vehicle for Arnold, and very far fetched. But today, anyone who watches a lot of TV could see how the film is getting closer to reality. I wouldn't be surprised if I turn on the TV in the 'near future' and see a show not to far from this.
On that depressing note, I must however recommend 'The Running Man' to anyone who likes the 80s, Arnold, ridiculous acts or violence or just a good action film. 9. 5 / 10
The Running Man is always all time Entertaining very fast entertaining Sci-Fi Action by novel ever made. My in depth movie review and retrospective of the underrated 80's sci-fi action classic, and one of my personal favorite films. As a kid I always loved this movie is the third best action movie in my opinion I love The Running Man to death, this movie was also made after success of Predator with co starring Jesse Ventura who opposite started with Schwarzenegger in Predator. Very underrated 80's sci-fi action classic, and one of my personal favorite films, I love this movie to death is my number 3 best Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.
The film is very underrated and very bashed and hated from the other critics and fans. In my opinion is very great fun Science Fiction Action film about a convicts who has to fight for survival in a game show. The film, set in a dystopian America between 2017 and 2019, is about a television show called The Running Man, where convicted criminal "runners" must escape death at the hands of professional killers.
1987 was a busy year for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Given his meteoric rise into the ranks of Hollywood's action elite, he accepted the opportunity to play the leading role in two science fiction films within the same year (Predator and The Running Man). The themes and setting couldn't have been more distant, yet they both garnered widespread acclaim, and helped bolster the former bodybuilder's career. I've always felt Predator is a superior picture to The Running Man (and imagine most sci-fi fans would agree), but when it comes to pure mindless entertainment, this is the disc to reach for.
The action sequences were great outstanding, the CGI wasn't in it at all, it was barely in it. The film is fast and very Entertained. The Running Man may not be the greatest 80's action flick, but it's still a relevant entry in the genre and well worth your time. Arnold Schwarzenegger was very very skeptical of Paul Michael Glazer been the director of the movie. And he thought it was terrible choose for Pal Michael Glazer because he was the last replacement. For me the film is fine and It doesn't look like a TV show. I don't think it is a TV show. I have enjoyed very much as anyone else did. I think The Running Man it's a film that it is a lot of deeper than people are giving a credits for. I really enjoy this underrated 1987 Sci-fi action film with Arnold Schwarzenegger! It was fun, pure adrenaline pumping game show-typed flick that's set in a futuristic time, loosely based on a Stephen King novel. It was great to see Richard Dawson coming from the original Family Feud to played an evil game show host. Lots of great action scenes all around. Arnold delivering his one liners w/ perfect timing....such a shame this film wasn't a big hit...but its now a cult classic. I always think Maria Alonso, Arnold's hottest co star. They have great chemistry. Maria is Arnold's type,I wish they had more scenes together.
THE YEAR IS 2019. Television is now ruling people's lives. The most popular "audience participation" game show is "The Running Man"-where convicts can win pardons instead of "parting gifts" by defeating murderous henchman known as "stalkers." The stalkers haven't had much of a challenge lately...until Ben Richards (Schwarzenegger) comes along.
The Running Man (1987) is a cult classic film with Arnold Schwarzenegger based on Stephen King's Novel the most underrated film and one of my all time favorite films, I love this film to death.
The stalkers in the game show: Pofessor Subzero, Buzzsaw, Captain Freedom, Fireball and Dynamo are one the most memorable characters in the film, Professor Toru Tanaka,Gus Rethwisch, Jesse Ventura, Jim Brown and Erland Van Lidth De Jeude did a wonderful job portraying the stalkers in the game show in the film. Ben Richards is actually Arnold Schwarzenegger most memorable character of all time. I love the theme Music from Harold Faltermeyer and I love that film is set in the future that is what I love in this film. 7 B+
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 then watch Arnold Schwarzenegger get to knock some skulls together in a gladiator arena? Exactly.
4/5 stars -
After a shaky start involving the worst title sequence in the history of cinema (although it's good to see the Sinclair Spectrum finally get global use!), director Paul Michael Glaser presents an eye-popping glimpse at the television of tomorrow. This witty slice of sociological irony would have admittedly been slicker in the hands of regular Paul Verhoeven, but Glaser keeps the action flowing throughout, and presents us with some bizarrely fascinating villains as well as the usual action frolics. One query, though, is over the level of violence. Oddly enough there doesn't really seem to be enough. In a program where the broad concept is horrifically barbaric, Glaser seems reluctant to horrify us beyond the disappointing "see the blood spattering from the violence that's just off camera" and those awful rubber corpses! I do not wish to appear to be encouraging unnecessary violence, but in a comic-book film where 'gore is its core', not including it almost makes you feel that it is trying to take itself too seriously, and therefore makes it even more horrific. Perhaps this delicate subject is better explained by Paul Verhoeven in his excellent commentary to ROBOCOP (DVD Criterion Collection).
But the performances in THE RUNNING MAN are suitably solid, from the powerful Schwarzenegger to the sleazy game show host. Any fan of the 80s action genre will love this, so sit back and prepare for SHOWTIME!!!!!!
This movie is chock full of classic Arnold one-liners, such as his famous "I'll be back" right before he enters the arena. And he taunts a stalker armed with a flamethrower with "How about a light?" I could go on and on, but I don't want to spoil the movie. It's funny stuff!
Whether it was intended or not, this movie serves as a great parody of today's "Reality TV" craze. Already there are numerous programs that show people enduring pain and humiliation for the entertainment of viewers, and even court cases are televised for their "entertainment value". Running Man demonstrates what would happen if reality TV hit rock bottom, and it is a scary picture. One can only hope that the networks have the common sense not to let it go that far.
Overall, this is a fun film & I highly recommend it. 9 out of 10!
But, give it 18 years, and you find yourself being able to appreciate it in a different light. Rather than just being another brainless action film, it works very well as a parody of reality TV. It is quite different to the Stephen King book, true, but I doubt whether Hollywood, with its love of upbeat endings and so-called 'ordinary guys' who turned out to have the skills of a trained commando, would have accepted it in its current form.
But, on with the review.
Ben Richards (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a cop working in a dystopian United States where democracy is a thing of the past, and the entire country is ruled by a government/media conglomerate amalgamation. The economy is in tatters, food is scarce and the state keeps people distracted by producing sadistic gameshows for them to watch, like Jumping for Dollars, where people jump for money over a pit of rabid dogs, and the most popular one is The Running Man, a gameshow hosted by the slimy Damian Killian (played by the entertaining Richard Dawson) where supposed 'criminals' are hunted down by theatrical, pro-wresting-esquire 'stalkers'.
Some, however, try and speak up against the government. When a group of hungry people hold a protest in the town of Bakersfield, California, a helicopter piloted by Richards is sent to 'calm' (i.e. kill) the protest. When Richards refuses to fire on innocent people, he is arrested and framed for the murder of the people in the crowd. He is sentenced to a slave labour camp, but escapes with the aid of a resistance leader (Yaphet Kotto) and goes on the run.
However, his freedom does not last long, and after he kidnaps network employee Amber Mendez (Marita Conchita Alonso) in an attempt to escape those pursuing him, he finds himself taken prisoner again, but this time he is forced to appear on The Running Man.
And there, of course, the entire film kicks into standard Arnie mode. Richards is launched into the post-apocalyptic wasteland of Los Angeles (why is LA always destroyed in these dystopian worlds?) and forced to run from the 'stalkers', along with two other prisoners who escaped from the labour camp with him. Amber also becomes curious about Richards' protestations of innocence, and discovers he was framed. Guess what happens to her, then? So, as Amber, Richards and the two other guys run around trying to avoid the stalkers, we soon become aware that Richards is no ordinary cop. He's Super Arnie, the unkillable one man army who can collapse evil corporate dictatorships and fight obese men covered in Christmas lights all while being just your average American guy with an Austrian accent.
Yes, the remainder of the film becomes dumb, loud, classic 80's Arnie fun. There's a lot of exciting fight sequences, the trademark dreadful puns ('He had to split' being my favourite), and the general formulaic final confrontation and happy ending. It's a lot of fun watching Killian react to it in the typical 'wholesome' gameshow host way, as well, and some of the funniest moments in the show revolve around the contrast between his interactions with the crowd as the seemingly benevolent host (watch out for the cursing old lady!) and the cold, cyncial man he is in reality who will do anything to increase ratings.
If you expect a high-brow, intelligent film, you'll be disappointed. But if you want a great 80s flick, well, this is it. But the great thing about this film is it was quite prophetic.
If you look at the entertainment we have today, you'll have noticed the way reality TV is going nowadays - shows featuring people willing to put themselves through anything for five minutes of fame, and producers all too willing to let them humiliate themselves on TV. It's not too far a leap to imagine that some vile TV exec out there has been trying to get the right to show people be executed live on TV. We've already had that, however, with the ghoulish al-Qaida hostage beheading videos posted on the internet. It seems that in the current climate, at least some people are perfectly fine with watching real death on their television sets.
With that in mind, and coupled with the fact that everything these days appears to be a revival of the 80s, you have to be impressed by the far-sightedness of this film. Of course, we haven't reached there yet, as it's terrorists, rather than the mainstream media, who have bought us easily available programs featuring real human death, but you just have to wonder how long it is before some exec decides to see if he can find a way of pitching a show that combines people's desire for entertainment and desire to indulge their morbid curiosity...
It's when Killian saw a news clip of former L.A cop Ben Richards, Arnold Schwartznegger, running from the police with his bulging muscles and perfect physique he saw his lagging ratings for his show-The Running Man-jump up at least 10 points. Richards had been framed for the notorious Bakersville Massacre where, during a food riot, some 60 civilians were gunned down by the L.A.P.D police helicopter that he commanded. With Richards now in custody he'll be the feature act in the next Running Man show where survive of the contestants, like Richards, is almost non-existent.
Getting away from all the preliminaries leading up to the main event the film really gets started when Richards is given the chance to save his life by withstanding and defeating all the stalkers on the show who are out to finish him off. Right away Richards sees what a lying lowlife swine Killian is by him having his two friends Laughlin & Weiss, Yaphet Kotto & Marvin J. McIntire, who escaped along with him from a government gulag put in the same position that he's in: Fighting for their lives against impossible odds as contestants on the show. That was something that Killian promise Richards he wouldn't do if he agreed to participate and go on the show.
With his new found girlfriend-whom he picked up along the way- Amber, Maria Alonso, Richards takes on the best and most effective stalkers that Killian could throw at him making mince meat fried chicken and Susi out of them. This doesn't save either Laughlin and Weiss who in the end are killed during the savage and brutal game.
***SPOILERS*** Richards who was only interested in his own survival turned his interest to overthrowing the ruthless and Nazi-like government when he saw first hand what they've been doing to him and his fellow Americans in enslaving them in both body as well as mind. With a new outlook on life and the sorry state that America is in Richards after dispatching the stalker squad that was out to kill both him and Amber turned his attention on Killian, who with his gang of goons no longer around to protect him, and gave him a taste of his own medicine!
P.S Even more effective then surviving the game of "Running Man" Richards with the help of his late friend Weiss, who was an electronic genius, was able the break the secret code that controls the broadcasts of the country's media-via satellite-outlets. By him doing that the American public were finally able to get the truth of how their Fascist Government lies to as well as manipulates them! And even more important they'll also be able, by rising up against it, to finally put a stop to it! One of those truths that comes to the surface is just how Richards himself was railroaded by the government in taking responsibility in the Bakersville Massacre. Which in fact as the original news video tapes showed, before they were altered, he tried to stop!
All in all a likeable if dated 80's Arnie Flick
My Rating 8/10
This exciting film contains action , thrills, suspense , blood , a little bit of humor and is plenty of graphical violence . Special effects laden adaptation of the Stephen King novel , under his Richard Bachman pseud , he wrote the story in 72 hours and was screen-written by Steven Souza , the film is based very loosely on the novel of the same name . The story deals with a futuristic TV game show in which each game are selected some convicts to participate in a brutal man-chase wherein felons are given the chance to run to freedom but have to elude the stalkers ; men who hunt them down and kill them in gruesome manners . 'The Running Man' game seen in the film was based upon an early 1980's Japanese game show called 'Trans American Ultra Quiz', in which contestants were tortured in various ways and the prize went to whichever contestant could stand the pain/humiliation the longest . The movie displays strong and realistic fights and excellent action sequences with bloody attacks and violent , blistering struggles . The picture belong to ¨dystopian world¨ genre as well as the tyrannical control by the government of ¨1984¨ and death games films such as ¨Battle Royale¨ (Kinji Fukasaku) and the recent ¨Hunger Games¨(Gary Ross). Arnold Schwarzenegger is an appropriate and powerful warrior , he steals the spectacle as one army man , as enemies are dispatched in turn ; in addition , he holds the brief comic relief . Dolph Lundgren and Christopher Reeve were interested to star in the movie, and Patrick Swayze had also been considered. Arnold , Governor of California , along with Maria Conchita Alonso have both starred in the Predator movies. Jesse Ventura , Governor of Minnesota , starred in the first Predator film . Ample plethora of secondary actors give bouncing performances as Professor Tanaka , Jim Brown , Yaphet Kotto , Zappa , Fleetwood and Sven-Ole Thorsen . Furthermore , Erland van Lidth's and Richard Dawson's last film. Thrilling and commercial musical score by Harold Faltermeyer , it was composed by means of synthesizer . Colorful and adequate cinematography by Thomas Del Ruth . The motion picture lavishly produced by Rob Cohen was well directed by Paul Michael Glaser (Starsky and Hutch) . Rating : Good . Well worth watching .
The Running Man's most obvious shortcoming is its production values. Runners run around in quilted suits that resemble mattresses, glass lollipops serve as the ominous warning beacons that mark the point of no return for prisoners who don't want to have their heads blown off, Dynamo drives about in a car that appears to be made of Lego, fascist soldiers capture criminals with the terror that is a small red net, the wasteland that is the game quadrant appears to repeat itself Hanna-Barbera style, computers resemble BBC Micros and the opening crawl looks like it was typed on the aforementioned computer. It's a cheap, cheap film.
However, despite the fact that it's cheap, despite the fact that it looks like sludge was smeared over the lenses, despite the fact that it was filmed by Detective Dave Starsky and despite the fact that the film repeats the words 'uplink', 'relay', 'network', 'interface', 'satellite' and 'resistance' so many times that I want to remove them from the dictionary Newspeak-style, there's still plenty to enjoy. The film's the epitome of a guilty pleasure.
What you most expect from a 80s Arnie film is homoeroticism, and in that regard the film certainly delivers. The first shot of Arnie (post Bakersfield massacre) is of him carrying a massive steel girder on his shoulder (it's a repeat of the shot in Commando where you're introduced to Schwarzenegger with the visual of him carrying a huge log). And no sooner has the film started than he's grabbing men by their privates and smoking unfeasibly large cigars.
But there's also Killian (the Bobby Heenan-style game show host). When he first sees Arnie, running (muscles-a-bulging) in dreamy slow-motion, he says, "Hello gorgeous." And in the course of the scene he also says, "Isn't he beautiful?" and shouts, "I want him!" I bet he's got a steel girder in his pants. But when he first meets Arnie face to face he coos, "Hi, cutie pie." Now I've got a steel girder too.
But as log-friendly as this banter is, it's amateur league punk stuff when you compare it to the Captain Freedom workout. Jesse Ventura appears on the screen, shouting, "Are you ready for pain? Are you ready for suffering? If the answer is yes, then you're ready for Captain Freedom's workout." Tent city.
Another great detail is Arnie's disguise when he's on the run from the law. He walks around with a thick beard, a gym t-shirt (which is ripped to show off as much of his neck and biceps as possible) and a yellow builder's hat. Maybe he ransacked the local YMCA.
But the film also delivers in terms of amusing deaths. Of course, the most obvious are the stalker deaths. You've got Fireball exploding, Sub-Zero wearing a barbed wire necktie, Dynamo being electrocuted (mid-rape) in his saggy kecks and, best of all, Buzzsaw getting castrated I love his falsetto scream. But you've also got a prisoner having his head blown off (while his body keeps running) and, my personal favourite, Killian going through a sign in that toboggan thing. But what makes the Killian death my favourite is the way the sign explodes when Killian goes through it. It's totally unnecessary but that's what makes it great.
Just as unnecessary are Arnie's atrocious puns. But their awfulness is what makes them so brilliant. "He had to split." "What a hot head." "Yeah, he was a pain in the neck." Even Roger Moore would be proud. But Arnie's best piece of dialogue is considerably more subtle. After Yaphet Kotto dies, and after he's made an offer by Killian to become a stalker, Arnie grabs a camera and yells, "I live to see you eat that contract, but I hope you leave enough room for my fist because I'm going to ram it into your stomach and break your goddamn spine!" Poetry.
Not quite as poetic, though, is the final shoot-out. Basically Arnie and a bunch of soldiers who look like members of Culture Club invade the studio and reveal the truth. It's a dull action scene (although I like the way that Arnie, like Charles Bronson, can avoid bullets simply by ducking). Plus Arnie, for some reason, spares the bloodthirsty mob. Surely I can't be the only one that was hoping he'd open fire on the crowd especially on that old granny and establish a Ben Richards dictatorship? But no, in a typically un-Republican way, Arnie wants freedom. And he also gets the girl and walks off with her to the sound of some abysmal 80s power ballad. Personally, I think it would have been more convincing if he'd walked off arm-in-arm with Killian's bodyguard, Sven.
"The Running Man" offers a fair bit of food for thought. Now that we've actually reached the year in which this movie takes place, it makes us think about the world we live in, and where we're possibly headed. Much like "Network" 11 years before it, "The Running Man" became a prophetic movie, depicting the advent of so-called "reality television" in our society. And it also makes us think about how the media may be constantly manipulating information before we ever get to see it.
Not that "The Running Man" is all substance and no style, of course. It's also a tried and true Arnold vehicle, in which he gets to strut his stuff and offer up a one-liner every time he overcomes an antagonist. "Here is Sub Zero. Now, *Plain* Zero!" The lighting, the sets, and the costumes are a delight to behold, in this portrayal of a Dystopian future where the unruly lower class are held in check by being delivered the lurid thrills of this "game show". Harold Faltermeyers' music is catchy, as it always is. There is some potent violence, although the squeamish should know that the gore doesn't really get all that hard for them to handle.
Arnold is supported by a pretty eclectic mix of performers: Maria Conchita Alonso as his feisty leading lady, Yaphet Kotto and Marvin J. McIntyre as his prison associates, Jim Brown, Jesse Ventura, Erland Van Lidth (whose final film this was), Bernard Gus Rethwisch, and Professor Toru Tanaka as assorted "Stalkers", and musicians Mick Fleetwood and Dweezil Zappa. Familiar faces in small roles include Sven-Ole Thorsen, Edward Bunker, Kurt Fuller, Ken Lerner, Dey Young, Thomas Rosales Jr., and Lin Shaye. Although designed as an Arnold vehicle, it's Dawson that really makes "The Running Man" come to life.
A very fun movie that, if anything, looks better today than it did when it first came out.
(Loosely) based on a novel by Richard Bachman (a.k.a. Stephen King).
"Killian, I'll be back!" "Only in a rerun."
Eight out of 10.
The Film is set in the not too distant future(2017). America is a military controlled state and the citizens are severely oppressed. Arnie plays Ben Richards, a former police officer who is wrongly convicted of the massacre of innocent civilians. Sent to prison, Arnie escapes only to be captured again. His only choice now is to take part in a sinister Game show where Convicted Criminals Face deadly opponents. Along with two other convicts William Laughlin (Yaphet Kotto) and Harold Weiss (Marvin J.McIntyre) and a woman Richards met along the way, Amber Mendez (Maria Conchita Alonso), Arnold must try his best to survive this game show hell.
Along the way Richards battles Maniacs with Chainsaws, FlameThrowers and Electro bolts. Expect the usual Action and Violence seen in films such as Commando and Predator and of course a few Golden "Arnie" Lines thrown in there all in the pursuit of delivering justice to Richards' Biggest enemy, the game show host Damon Killian (Richard Dawson).
If you want to watch a cinematic Masterpiece, see Casablanca or The Godfather. If you want to see a film regarded as Art, look at Fellini films. If you want to see a fun action ARNIE film watch the Running Man. Perhaps a bit dated (A not too dissimilar more recent film is perhaps Battle Royale) but arguably this film never gets old as it can be watched over and over again. Is it predictable? Yes. Is it Stupid? Yes. Is it Cheesy? Yes. But is it Fun? VERY MUCH SO, YES.
The book was written under Stephen King's pseudonym Richard Bachman and is the best thing he has produced under this nom-de-plum. A novel which is 100% plot and consequently moves like a steam train, it also provides a bleak 'Blade Runner-esque' vision of the future, but from a lower class perspective. I had high hopes for the film, but they were dashed utterly as the result wasn't anything like the book other than the names of a few characters and the basic premise of a game show where the prize is your life.
Social commentary? Gone. Bleak vision of the future? Minimal. Plotline? Gone. Cataclysmic ending? Gone.
A real shame and a missed opportunity for a truly great film and given the events on 9/11, probably missed permanently now - certainly no one is going to finance a remake with the original ending intact these days.
So, my advice is to see the film before you read the book. If you like the film then the book will come as a revelation and you will see my point of view, but if you have read the book already, then give the film a wide berth as you are bound to be disappointed.
However, it is not a total loss - viewed independantly of the book it is a reasonable Arnie movie, PMG does a pretty good job directing and the effects are OK for the time too. The score is also pretty good and in general the performances are up to the task. This is a 'Friday night after the Pub' movie, don't expect anything too deep, the book has depth, the film is all surface.
A straight adaptation from Stephen King's original novel (under the pen name Richard Bachman) would have been much more suitable, especially with the rise of shows like Cops and World's Scariest Police Chases. Placing the entire game within an actual arena isn't quite like how the future turned out. However, they may have to modify the ending (the ending of a novel involves a large airplane crashing into a building).
Considering all the remakes and sequels that have been made as of late, it's surprising that they haven't remade this one, even though it's a bit more relevant to today's audience than it was back in 1987. Shoot the whole thing on digital video (a la "Series 7: The Contenders") and throw in a lot more dark comedy, and you'd have yourself a nice little independent flick and a cult classic in the making. No need for something with an overbloated budget.
Arnie plays framed ex-cop Ben Richards, who is forced to participate in the 21st century's most popular game show, a sadistic man hunt which sees its "runner", or victim, forced to flee for his of her life from a group of very nasty "stalkers".
Arnie's body passes the test of course, but the rest of this movie (which had a promising premise) is destroyed by some ordinary action sequences and an awful sense of humour. Schwarzenegger's one-liners are dreadfully painful.
A real run of the mill, one-dimensional action film which delivers very little entertainment.
Monday, January 31, 1994 - T.V.
I was wrong.
As a stand alone film, I imagine it's great, but with what the book put into my head it was really hard to not turn it off after the first 20 minutes. The story is almost completely different aside from the character names (Richards and Killian) and the fact that it's a futuristic television show. Everything else was pretty much made up by De Souza.
Not one of Schwarzenegger's best films, but somewhat entertaining, even through his dry performance. The highlight was Richard Dawson (of Family Feud fame). He played Killian perfectly.
I felt the story lacked what the book had. I didn't really care if Richards (Schwarzenegger) lived or died. Any of the characters really. I would say watch to movie, so you can say you've seen it. But read the book none-the-less.