The Running Man Blu-ray Review
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 henchmen known as “stalkers.” The stalkers haven’t had much of a challenge lately…until Ben Richards (Schwarzenegger) comes along. Wrongly convicted of slaughtering 1500 innocent people, Richards is the next contestant to fight for his life…and his freedom. When ”Running Man” host Damon Killian (Dawson) says, “Come on down!”, be prepared to pay with your life! But Ben Richards isn’t going down without a fight. Off Richards goes into the burned-out sections of Los Angeles to face four of Killian’s ace stalkers: Subzero, wielding his razor-sharp hockey sticks; Buzzsaw, the mechanical motorcycle- riding slasher; Dynamo, practicing his deadly electric shock treatment; and Fireball with his mighty flame-throwing arsenal. Now, the entire country is glued to the tube in a heart-pounding “sudden death” battle!
Audio: DTS-HD MA lossless 7.1 mix
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Disc Spec: 1 BD50
If there’s another film out there featuring two future governors, I don’t know what it could be. Ironically, both future politicians’ characters actually reflect their future terms in office to some degree: Arnold is the independent tough guy determined to do what he thinks is right, while Jesse Ventura is a washed-up buffoon who can’t be taken seriously. Then, of course, there’s Richard Dawson, who funnels all those years of game show hosting into the role of Damon Killian, host of futuristic America’s most popular game show, The Running Man.
Ben Richards (Schwarzenegger) is on chopper patrol when an order comes through to fire into an area where inoccent citizens stand. The order of course is obsured, and Richards declines, aborting the mission when his superior passes on orders to Richards’ co-pilots to take control of the craft and resume the mission. In a struggle to do what is right, Richards attempts to to keep his co-pilots away from the controls, but fails in doing so as he is simply outmaned. About a year or two later, enter the game show “The Running Man.” On the screen in front of a large live audience, we see the events that night of Richards aboard the chopper. The order comes through to not fire, as there are simply too many innocents in the area. Richards defies orders and proceeds to shoot down a number of innocents and destroy that particular area of town. This is just one of the twisted setups for the most famous form of televised entertainment in the year 2017, hosted by David Killian (Richard Dawson).
Running Man was released in 1987, taking place in 2017. It’s pretty much an established fact that any 80’s film taking place in the future usually looks like an even more 80’s future. No different here, Running Man is filled with cheesy costumes, lots of neon flashly lights, and a dowtown Los Angeles that looks nothing like the city today. And like many movies set in the future, it’s not a happy place. The economy is bust, and the living conditions we see are pretty downright nasty. Unless you are Richard Killian, who’s gameshow has probably made him the most famous (and a very rich) man in America. Little does the majority know that “He is lying to you”. Killian’s choice of contestants are whoever he can get his hands on, however, his audience thinks these are scumbag criminals who deserve to die at the hands of the “Stalkers” – the guys who chase those contestants down and do the killing, in style of course. Richards catches Killian’s eye, and he has no difficulty getting a hold of him. Along with his two buddies and a girl he meets along the way (Maria Conchita Alonso), Richards is caught in the deadly game show dueling it out with all types of Stalkers.
Movie Content: 9/10
The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The film looks fairly good on Blu-ray for its age. Colors are much stronger and livelier throughout the print. Colors are decent carrying a bit more strength than the 2-disc DVD release. Grain is still present, which is kept on the lighter side throughout in some scenes and others looks to be absent. Fleshtones look much more natural than ever before. Blacks are strong. Details are good, but there are scenes a plenty that could have had better focus. Lionsgate delivers yet again providing another 80’s classic with very good image quality.
Video Quality: 8/10
The audio is presented in DTS-HD MA lossless 7.1 mix. The audio is good, but not excellent for a catalog title. This is a dynamic audio experience that caught me by surprise in a few scenes. You will hear bullets panning the speakers in the background. While you hear panning effects with the bullets, there is a problem with the bullets just sounding very light. The score is very well done and brought to life here with the DTS-HD mix. Dialogue is clean through the center channel and I never had to play with the volume control.
Audio Quality: 8/10
- Audio Commentary with producer Tim Zinnemann and director Paul Michael Glaser
- Audio Commentary with executive producer Rob Cohen
- Lockdown on Main Street
- Game Theory
- Theatrical Trailer
Special Features: 6/10
I am a huge fan of ‘The Running Man’ and I am so glad that Lionsgate finally brought this film to Blu-ray. This film inspired many films over the years including another personal favorite, ‘The Condemned’ which felt like a remake of this one to a degree. Both the video and audio are well done and about what I expected, except I was hoping for a bit more out of the audio department. If you are a fan go out and pick this one up replacing your DVD.
Overall Rating: 8/10