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The Running Man
1987 - R - 101 Mins.
Director: Paul Michael Glaser
Producer: George Linder, Tim Zinnemann
Written By: Steven E. de Souza
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Dawson, Yaphet Kotto, Jim Brown, Jesse Ventura, Kurt Fuller
Review by: John Ulmer
   

I wonder if anyone knows I'm not wearing underwear
"Running Man" is based on a story by Richard Bachman, a.k.a. Stephen King writing under pseudonym.

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.
 
Movie Guru Rating
An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater. An excellent film.  Among the best in its Genre.  Worth seeing in the Theater.
  4 out of 5 stars

 
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