Director – Paul Michael Glaser (Amazing Stories, Band of the Hand)
Starring – Arnold Schwarzenegger (Predator, Terminator), Maria Conchita Alonso (The Outer Limits, Vampire’s Kiss), and Richard Dawson (The Devil’s Brigade, Hong Kong Phooey)
Release Date – 1987
Rating – 4.5/5
Blu Release – 3/5
Tagline – “2019. A game nobody survives. This year might be the exception”
When I was in middle school and elementary I would stay with my grandma while my dad was out of town. She was a huge fan of the Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy) and when I knew I was going to be there for a few days I would rent a stack of VHS tapes. Most of the time I would rent those mid-90s made for children movies but sometimes I would venture into other genres like horror and sci-fi if something caught my eye.
It was at this time that I was introduced to 1987 film adaptation of the Richard Bachman/Stephen King novel The Running Man. My grandma fucking hated it but fell in love with it. I bought the VHS when I could and a few years later I picked up the DVD. I’ve watched it so many times over the years but when my DVD started skipping I decided to retire it. Sometime back Umbrella Entertainment released the film on blu and was kind enough to send it over for review. Thanks so much, guys!
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows former soldier Ben Richards (Schwarzenegger) who was wrongly accused of massacring innocent civilians. After a successful prison break the host of a gameshow sees his footage on the news and wants him as a contestant on his show The Running Man. Richards is eventually apprehended and Damon Killian (Dawson) tricks him into agreeing to be on the show. Killian is in dire need to higher ratings and Richards looks to be just what he was hoping for but Richards has other plans.**Spoiler Alert**
The Running Man created a love for combat game movies in me that I still love to this day. I blame The Running Man for my obsession with movies like Battle Royale, The Condemned, Death Race, and even The Hunger Games. I can’t explain why I love these films so much but I know I contracted this love after watching the now iconic film The Running Man.
The acting in this one is extremely cheesy and I fucking love it. Honestly, I have a hard time taking anyone seriously if they say Schwarzenegger is a great actor. He’s not and I’m sorry to say that. However, it’s his mannerisms and demeanor that makes his roles so much fun. No one could turn the roles he has taken on into iconic roles like he did. The same can be said for his performance as Ben Richards in TRM. He’s not delivering an amazing performance but the way he carries himself and so on really makes the character fun to watch. One of the best performances in the film comes from Richard Dawson. He’s so fucking natural in the role and his personality only makes his performance feel that more sinister. He does a fantastic job. The supporting cast is great as well. Some follow in Schwarzenegger’s footsteps and deliver extremely cheesy performances that rival anything from the world of professional wrestling.
The story for this one rides that 80s wave of “futuristic” films that depicts the fall of the U.S. as we know it and the police state is born in it’s ashes. Toss in the classic futuristic effects and computers mixed with a gladiator style reality game show and you have yourself the perfect mix of dated goodness. Sure, it is funny looking at and horrible depiction of 2019 but the film is still fun while carefully flirting with the fears many people have about big government. The film has plenty of actions, some memorable fights, and a very compelling story that does feel dated but fun.
Finally, the film does have several on screen kills but the death are carefully done as to not over do it for the viewer. We get some blood but no gore for you sick fucks out there. We also get some very dated visual effects that I fucking love. They are cheap but classic for the time. Overall, The Running Man is a film I can never tire of and this release from Umbrella looks fucking fantastic. Fans of this film and collectors will NEED this release for their collections. Get it now while you still can!