running_manEvery cliche, every stylistic element, everything that is the 80s is in The Running Man and its all the awesome for it. I have read the novella by Stephen King that this film is very loosely based on and it is one of my favorite King stories. If there is a movie out there deserving to be remade, The Running Man would be it. As I just mentioned, the film is a mocking pale shadow of King’s story. The film merely took the concept and the main characters and packaged it as a Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie. Stephen King’s story, on the other hand, is an intense, dramatic, suspense story thats set in a dark dystopian future. In the right hands, a proper adaptation of the novella would be a great film and I’m surprised I have not heard anything about a possible remake.

The Running Man stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Conchita Alonso, and Richard Dawson. If you like Arnold for his famous one-liners, this film may perhaps contain his best and funniest lines. In fact, I don’t remember a single scene in which Arnold doesn’t utter a wisecrack. Its clear the producers decided to form the character around Arnold rather than the other way around. Arnold does what he does best here – act bad, fire off funny lines, and kill people. His leading lady is Maria Conchita Alonso, who had a brief career in the 80s in Moscow on the Hudson and this film before shuffling off into obscurity. Like all action movies from the era with female costars, Alonso doesn’t do much other than run around and be saved by her hero. Finally, we have, in my opinion, the real star of the film: Richard Dawson, the famous host of the TV show, Family Feud. There was no one better equipped to play this character than Dawson. Using the persona that made him so popular on Family Feud, Dawson takes it and twists it to create an opportunistic, maniacal antagonist who cares for nothing in the world other than TV ratings. I loved watching his character and Dawson owned every scene he was in.

As I stated before, what makes this film so fun is how cheesy it is. The Running Man has certainly not aged well over the years and I suspect I would not have liked it had I seen it during its initial release. However, watching it now, you can’t help but enjoy the synth/techno soundtrack, the WWF-inspired gladiators sent out to hunt Arnold, the clothing, the set design, and the general atmosphere of the film. There is a great scene where Arnold and Jesse Ventura (two future governors) battle it out to the death. I do wish, however, the filmmakers had put a little variety in the obstacles Arnold has to get through in the game. All the scenes looked similar and I’m sure the film’s budget didn’t allow for more spectacular and diverse settings. I especially don’t think the film had the large budget that would be required to literally adapt the Stephen King novella, which sets up some pretty epic situations.

All in all, The Running Man is not a good film, but its a enjoyable film and its a classic Arnold 80s movie, replete with his classic one-liners.