Genre(s): Science Fiction, Action
Olive Films | R – 101 min. – $24.95 | February 19, 2013
Directed by: Paul Michael Glaser
Writer(s): Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King) (novel); Steven E. Desouza (screenplay)
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Conchita Alonso, Yaphet Kotto, Richard Dawson
Theatrical Release Date: November 13, 1987
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 2.0)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 1.78
Disc Size: 22.9 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
THE MOVIE – 3.25/5
There’s nothing like the 1980s futuristic sci-fi thriller. TRON. Back to the Future Part II, Terminator and… The Running Man, a movie that seemed was only made to capitalize on Ahnold Schwarzenegger’s skyrocketing stardom after hits with the aforementioned Terminator, Commando and Predator. In the 80s, you had an actor in the Oval Office and plenty of cynicism to go around that every other movie that takes place in the future was dark and mostly apocalyptic (no doubt thanks in large part to Blade Runner).
The Running Man continued that trend taking place in the year 2017. The world economy has collapsed leading to chaos and the government rules with an iron fist, severely limiting citizen movements and suppressing the opposition who are desperate to get the truth out there. There is also a reality show aptly named “The Running Man” in which convicts are sent into a 40 block zone and are hunted down and eventually killed by lavishly dressed men called ‘Stalkers’.
Ex-cop Ben Richards (ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER) was wrongly accused and convicted of mass murder and given the nickname as the “Butcher of Bakersfield”. After a brazen prison escape – the now near future involves collars which, once going past a line will arm and blows off your head – with a couple cohorts (including YAPHET KOTTO), Richards was set to meet up with his brother and go to warmer climates. When he goes to his brother’s apartment, he finds it occupied by Amber Mendez (MARIA CONCHITA ALONSO) and decides to use her ID pass to make an escape to Hawaii but being the bitch… err, tattle tale that she is, she disrupts his plans and he is promptly captured. Of course, until it’s too late, Amber discovers just how manipulative the government and media (controlled by the government) is after they fabricate a story that said before his capture, Richards killed a few guards and civilians.
Meanwhile, the host of “The Running Man”, Damon Killian (RICHARD DAWSON), becomes infatuated with Richards as he would bring in even higher ratings for the show and bring some needed competiveness and blood the people wanted to see. So, Killian offers Richards the option of either appearing on the show or go back to jail and in which case, his two buds that helped his escape would take his place. Being the good guy Richards is he takes the offer. Of course, Killian reneges and sends the other two into the game as well. Now, Richards must take on these colorful Stalkers from a pyro-maniac to a man (JIM BROWN) with an affinity for Lite-Brites, oh and hockey maniac nicknamed Subzero.
After about 20-minutes of set-up, that’s basically the plot for the rest of the movie. Although this futuristic environment is pretty heavy-handed especially given that the government authorizes the mass murder of unarmed innocent civilians without provocation, the film is fairly light action fluff, typical of an Ahnold action-er during that era.
In any case, The Running Man does deliver on the fun factor especially given how ridiculous the future, coming in only 9 years now, looks. I can’t be sure, but it seems like most movies that take place in the early 21st century, people wear neon-colored spandex and the bad guys (or the opposition) walk around in long black trench coats. On the other hand, if the future is that bleak, I’d either be so insane and would be wearing brightly colored spandex (*shudder*) or the black trench coat since I’d be utterly depressed.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.25/5
Although none of the features from the Lionsgate release were ported over, Olive Films has included a new feature commentary with director Paul Michael Glaser. The track is alright with Glaser and a moderator, offer up insights into how he became involved with the project and provides behind-the-scenes information. It is a slow track and at times loses steam.
VIDEO – 3.25/5
Olive Films unveils The Running Man with a slightly different transfer versus the 2010 Lionsgate release. I did quick comparisons with a couple of scenes and this one is notably brighter but also has a fair amount of dust marks and scratches in places where there are none in the LG transfer. The Olive Films version is OK and more than serviceable as this was never a movie that really looked fantastic in high-def with marginal detail levels, but by the same token, there wasn’t a lot of care done with it either.
AUDIO – 3.75/5
While not quite as dynamic compared with the 7.1 channeled track the Lionsgate release had, this 2.0 Stereo DTS-HD Master Audio one is at least passable providing some decent depth during many scenes. Dialogue levels are a bit flat rather than sounding natural however everybody, even Schwarzenegger, is understandable.
OVERALL – 2.75/5
Overall, The Running Man is certainly dated but still a lot of fun in that cheesy fashion that the 1980s and Arnold Schwarzenegger is known for. The Blu-ray disc offered up by Olive Films has an average video transfer and an acceptable lossless audio track both of which are different from the Lionsgate release. On the plus side there is a new commentary but even that is fairly slow. At the $20 price point, this disc is a bit expensive so I would recommend waiting for a price drop or spend a few bucks more for the Lionsgate release which, at the time of this writing, was still in print.