Best Blu-ray Deals
Best Blu-ray Deals, See All the Deals »
Top deals |
The Running Man(1987)
The year is 2019. Television is now ruling people's lives. The most popular reality show is called "The Running Man" featuring convicts who compete to defeat murderous henchmen known as "stalkers" to win pardon. The next contestant on the show is Ben Richards, a prisoner wrongly convicted of murdering hundreds. When Ben faces off against four of the most brutal stalkers, he begins the fight of his life and leaves the entire country glued to their television sets.
For more about The Running Man and the The Running Man Blu-ray release, see the The Running Man Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on February 13, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Conchita Alonso, Kurt Fuller, Jim Brown, Jesse Ventura, Yaphet Kotto
Director: Paul Michael Glaser
» See full cast & crew
The Running Man Blu-ray Review
Survivor: Goodson-Todman Edition.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, February 13, 2013
The landscape of television has changed rather dramatically since The Running Man premiered in 1987, and what once might have seemed ludicrous now seems anything but. In this era of Survivor and Masters of Combat and a veritable glut of other niche series, some of the elements of The Running Man aren't merely the stuff of science fiction or pure predictive speculation any more. Now of course, there's a matter of degrees, and we haven't yet —yet—seen a contestant actually die on one of these shows, but the salacious appetite of the general viewing audience has been primed to the point where it probably isn't totally beyond the realm of possibility to imagine that hideous situation ultimately becoming part of some still slightly distant "sweeps week". Arnold Schwarzenegger had been on something of a hot streak in the years immediately prior to making The Running Man, with the two Conan films, The Terminator and Predator (as well as less stellar efforts like Red Sonja and Raw Deal) leading up to this enterprise, but this was a slightly different formulation for the future Governator, and in fact in some ways is a bit similar to a film Arnie would make three years after this one, Total Recall. In both The Running Man and Total Recall, Schwarzenegger plays a man alone (or at least mostly alone) in a dystopian future fighting against a corrupt all knowing government. The Running Man doesn't have the mind bending elements that Total Recall does, and in fact is a considerably less successful film overall than Total Recall, but some of its commentary on modern society and our addiction to celebrity is quite prescient, ringing more true now than it probably did even in 1987.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is on record as having stated he felt that The Running Man's promise was undercut by director Paul Michael Glaser, but from this reviewer's perspective there's less wrong with Glaser's (admittedly fairly pedestrian) direction than there is with the lackluster screenplay of Steven E. de Souza. Evidently no one on the production crew was aware that the source novel de Souza adapted was written by none other than Stephen King (working under his frequent pseudonym Richard Bachman), or perhaps more care would have been taken to craft a more compelling narrative. De Souza, who has had his ups ( Die Hard) and downs (Hudson Hawk) as a screenwriter, has actually had more consistent success in the world of episodic television, and The Running Man often feels like a feature film cobbled together from several shorter t.v. episodes of some long forgotten action series.
De Souza rather unwisely changed several key elements of King's original formulation, though the underlying premise remains more or less the same. In a future dystopia (is there any other kind of future?), the United States is in economic shambles (wait—is it the future already?) and the government controls the media with an iron fist. The biggest hit on television is a game show called The Running Man, hosted by the smarmy Machiavellian Damon Killian (Richard Dawson, in a piece of perfect typecasting). The show is a kind of precursor to The Hunger Games (in fact, one wonders if Suzanne Collins was reworking some half buried memories of either King's novel or this film when she undertook her own trilogy), but instead of kids duking it out at the behest of the government, one supposed "enemy of the state" is selected to outrun some improbably equipped hunters, with the understanding that if the runner manages to escape capture (and death), they'll be freed, no strings attached. Of course, what's actually happening turns out to be considerably more nefarious.
In terms of the "niceties" of the plot: well, does it ultimately really matter? Schwarzenegger is a good guy wrongly accused of being a bad guy, and he spends the bulk of the movie dodging the real bad guys, finally triumphing in the end. To paraphrase a bit of verbiage from the Passover liturgy known as the Seder, "How is this Schwarzenegger movie different from all other Schwarzenegger movies?", and the answer is: "It isn't". Schwarzenegger's character is Ben Richards, one of the government's jackbooted police thugs who in fact hasn't stooped to the level that some of his coworkers have in terms of tamping down the public at large, which of course makes him persona non grata, and which ultimately leads to his imprisonment in a government work camp. After he and several of his fellow inmates stage an escape, he soon comes to the notice of Killian, who wants to "book" Richards on The Running Man to garner huge ratings. In the meantime, Richards has stumbled into the apartment of Amber Mendez (Maria Conchita Alonso), a composer who works for the government run television network (wow—nice work if you can get it). Mendez is taken hostage by Richards, and initially distrusts him, but (no surprise here) finally figures out he has in fact been framed as a bad guy, a realization that only puts her in harm's way (no surprise there, either).
Some of The Running Man's cult appeal no doubt stems from several people in either supporting roles or behind the scenes. Mick Fleetwood, Jesse Ventura and Dweezil Zappa turn up in cameos and Paula Abdul handled the choreography chores on the film. It's of course debatable how much quality any of these contributors add to the project, but the cachet of seeing this shall we say eclectic group working together has probably added to the film's allure over the years.
There are actually some very smart ideas floating around The Running Man, including some fairly piquant commentary on our celebrity mad and violence loving culture, but they're all pretty much buried in an overly dumb and cartoonish realization. Part of the problem here is the absolutely outlandish assortment of bad guys, all of whom bear WWF-esque names like "Buzzsaw", names indicative of whatever weapons they utilize to track and dispatch the "running man". It makes a lot of the film play like an out of control animated feature, robbing the film of any real social commentary or, in fact, suspense. There's absolutely no question that Richards will triumph over these lunatic villains, usually with a one liner quip to wrap up the festivities.
The allusion to WWF may indeed be a salient comparison, for The Running Man is going to appeal most strongly to those who like their good guys and bad guys ridiculously over delineated and their action similarly hyperbolic. The Running Man is at its core decent enough mindless entertainment, but the depressing thing is there actually seems to be some actual intelligence lurking beneath the patently stupid trappings.
The Running Man Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Running Man is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Olive Films with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. I no longer have the Lionsgate Blu-ray in my collection, but my memory of it is still strong enough to state that while this new transfer is not optimal, it's still at least a marginal improvement over the first release. The Running Man was never a "pretty" film by any stretch of the imagination, and that kind of soft (some might even say ugly) appearance is still well on display in this newest incarnation. Clarity is improved over the Lionsgate release and colors are more accurate looking and better saturated. Fine detail isn't fantastic on this release, but it pops at least at decent levels in close-ups. The film continues to look a trifle dark at times (though this release looks considerably brighter than the Lionsgate version), though contrast is generally solid and stable throughout the film. As has been the Olive tradition, no egregious digital tweaking of any kind appears to have been done to the elements, and the film retains a very natural layer of grain.
The Running Man Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Running Man features a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mix that may worry some viewers who remember the Lionsgate version's repurposed 7.1 track. Why Olive didn't choose to at least give consumers a 5.1 track is a pertinent question given what appears to have been the film's original 6 track theatrical exhibition. That said, the 2.0 track, while obviously very narrow and lacking any real sense of overwhelming depth or immersion, presents the mix fluidly and with good prioritization, offering dialogue cleanly while also presenting the glut of sound effects with excellent fidelity. There's some occasionally wide stereo separation here, but most audiophiles are probably going to be disappointed by the lack of a surround mix on this release.
The Running Man Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Running Man Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Olive is taking a chance offering a property like The Running Man so relatively recently after its first Blu-ray release, especially when that release had arguably better audio and many more supplements than this release does. Does the uptick in video quality outweigh all of that? That will be up to the individual consumer, of course, but with the Lionsgate version now out of print and fetching rather steep prices online, those who love this film (and there are quite a few) who didn't get the Lionsgate version at least now have a reasonably priced alternative. The film itself is a mixed bag, but for those who want their Arnie without much if any nuance, The Running Man will more than likely fit the bill.
The Running Man: Other Editions
Use the thumbs up and thumbs down icons to agree or disagree that the title is similar to The Running Man. You can also suggest completely new similar titles to The Running Man in the search box below.
Similar titles suggested by members
The Running Man Blu-ray, News and Updates
No related news posts for The Running Man Blu-ray yet.
The Running Man Blu-ray, Forum Discussions
The Running Man Blu-ray Screenshots
Back to The Running Man Blu-ray »
Trending Blu-ray Movies
Trending in Theaters
This web site is not affiliated with the Blu-ray Disc Association.
All trademarks are the property of the respective trademark owners.
© 2002-2014 Blu-ray.com. All rights reserved.