|year: 1987 cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Dawson, Yaphet Kotto, Maria Conchita Alonso rating: ***1/2|
Schwarzenegger’s good cop Ben Richards, having been framed for multiple murders he didn’t commit, breaks out of prison, seeks clues to prove his innocence and meets his eventual love interest Maria Conchita Alonso. Ben's soon captured and – along with two men he escaped with – is forced to take part in the RUNNING MAN: a game show pitting contestants in death matches with random adversaries, called “Stalkers,” within various underground mazes.
The action is practically non-stop but never gets tiresome. Like the bloodthirsty cheering audience within the studio, you’ll anticipate the next obstacle for Richards and eventually his girlfriend. Arnold’s steely confidence shines through – he’s cool and tough and even states his famous “I’ll be back” line to an energetic Dawson, a bad guy you'll love to hate, stealing every scene doing what he did on FAMILY FEUD – only he’s a sadistic prick and doesn’t kiss contestants.
Once the show's over and a group of ragtag revolutionaries set things right, it doesn’t really matter. THE RUNNIGN MAN is all about that wicked game show, which is mirrored in this year’s blockbuster THE HUNGER GAMES.
Directed by Paul Michael Glaser, this might not be the deepest or scariest King adaptation, but it’s possibly the most fun. And for cult film fans, the formidable “Stalkers” include Jim Brown, Jesse Ventura, and STIR CRAZY heavy Erland van Lidth.