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The Running Man (1987)



Average Rating: 4.5/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 2 | Rotten: 4

No consensus yet.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 79,292

My Rating

Movie Info

An unjustly accused prisoner in 2019 is given a slim chance at freedom if he enters a battle-to-the-death on a television game show. Dawson steals the show as the slimy host!

May 25, 1999

Vestron Video

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All Critics (34) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (20) | Rotten (13) | DVD (20)

Schwarzenegger sadistically dispatches the baddies, enunciating typical wisecrack remarks (many repeated from his previous films), but it's all too easy.

April 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety | Comment (1)
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Pretty warmed-over stuff, this future world of the terminal TV game shows, and director Glaser fails to muster much pace and punch.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's not quite Network, but then it also doesn't take itself too seriously.

August 30, 2004 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie's problem is that all of the action scenes are versions of the same scenario.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Comments (3)
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

You want to know if The Running Man is a good-time macho show, right? Stay at home and watch professional wrestling.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The message is irrelevant. It's still the Olympian myth, albeit in a Lycra leotard, that counts with the Arn Man.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Give the movie credit for being prescient: Given the disgusting rise and success of reality TV, it's not difficult at all to imagine fans of garbage like Survivor or Jersey Shore easily turning into the audience for a deathsport show like The Running Man.

May 5, 2013 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

A brainless, breathless thrill.

April 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

It's an arcade-game romp done with flair.

April 30, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4

Only Richard Dawson -- brilliantly cast -- redeems this mess with a superior performance.

June 5, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

The fun of the movie is really in its premise, its cool confrontations between Arny & villains, the cheezy one-liners and Maria Conchita-Alonso in tights!

August 25, 2006 Full Review Source: JoBlo's Movie Emporium
JoBlo's Movie Emporium

Richard Dawson's best performance in a film.

December 21, 2004
Greenwich Village Gazette

The licenses taken with King's original tale only serve to make a more effective movie.

August 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

The story concept is good, and the film has plenty of fun and campy moments, but it’s also a little goofy.

May 14, 2004

We can only hope network execs that are watching don't get any funny ideas.

February 5, 2004 Full Review Source:

Cheesy, witty, enjoyable Arnold pic.

January 29, 2004
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

Another guilty pleasure from the Schwarzenegger catalog

November 15, 2002
Lawrence Journal-World

The picture fails to please beyond its glossy surface, cheap thrills, and crazed Richard Dawson cameo. Hmm ... maybe that's not such a bad thing.

August 4, 2002
Juicy Cerebellum

The movie lacks any real tension and seems to be a host of fight scenes hastily added together.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Sci-Fi Movie Page
Sci-Fi Movie Page

Audience Reviews for The Running Man

October 12, 2013
Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

Based on a story written by Stephen King, choreographed by Paula Abdul, directed by Paul Michael Glaser, this criticism of television is simultaneously worst and better than it means to be, gaining a savoury cheesy feel in the process. Schwartzenegger is in his standard hero mode but its the late Richard Dawson as the smiling face of evil who makes this worth watching.
August 8, 2012

Super Reviewer

Probably the first Arnie vehicle I ever saw as a kid and even then I thought it was average. Yes I know this could be seen as heresy but I must confess to never thinking a great deal about this film despite being a life long Arnie fan.

We all know the score with this film by now. The plot is based loosely on a Stephen King novel which is all about America being a police or totalitarian state, huge divides between the rich and the poor and of course death and violence being a popular much watched sport on TV. So basically a futuristic view on the ancient Roman civilisation and their bloody culture.

If you think about it its the perfect role for Arnie and various other muscle men just like many other Arnie films, this film pretty much started that craze. Today this kind of story is completely unoriginal but back then it was almost the first of its kind. To be fair its a videogame adaptation all the way haha Arnie's character must face each 'stalker' one by one, each has their own unique skill or weapon and they all have their personal 'level' or stage as it were. Guess what 'Sub Zero's' stage looks like?

The 'stalkers' are pretty cliched and generic now when you look back, 'Fireball' 'Sub Zero' 'Dynamo' 'Buzzsaw' and 'Captain Freedom', not hard to figure out what they all do...accept for 'Freedom' perhaps. A pumped bunch to say the least, Ventura looks full on steroids with his silly wig whilst Brown has a ridiculous wig himself (I think). The other 'stalker' cast members aren't as famous accept for Charles Kalani Jr. perhaps but 80's female action sidekick regular Marķa Conchita Alonso alongside Yaphet Kotto hold their own.

Of course the film is made by the excellent performance of Richard Dawson who takes a creepy direction on what was his current job at the time as a gameshow host. Not only does Dawson ham it up nicely but he adds a very eerie, sadistic, two faced approach to the role. Its actually quite fun to watch him crawl and grovel to the audience. A real slime ball deviously charming the gullible live audience, whilst virtually blackmailing them for their trust and ratings by lavishing easy prizes upon them with seemingly genuine generosity.
It did make you wonder if this was how real gameshow hosts behaved behind closed doors haha but I imagine that was the goal.

The film does look pretty cheap, it did even back then. Sets are not much more than big empty spaces with stark lighting effects and piles of rubble everywhere. Hell even the costumes look like they've been handmade by the cast themselves. Lots of spandex, a basic ice hockey uniform, lots of leather n chains for background thugs and the most bizarre concept for 'Dynamo' who is covered in what looks like Christmas tree lights stuck on transparent plastic body sections. Why does he sing opera? judging by his helmet its a homage or calling to 'Ride of the Valkyries' and the character is clearly trying to impose fear and terror on his pending victims as he rides his buggy thing into battle. Doesn't work too well though huh.

Quick one for you, who on earth knows what 'Captain Freedom's' outfit was suppose to do or be? looked like something out of 'He-Man'.

There's a lot more hinting at moments than actual visual sequences but there is the odd classic moment. I'm sure everyone recalls the infamous head explosion sequence, the ultra fast toboggan thing that transports Arnie down to the gauntlet game zone and Arnie slamming a pen into some scrawny pen pushing suits back...wince moment, 'ouch!'.

Its your classic dystopian futuristic 80's action flick obviously, with the classic update of gladiatorial battles for the blood thirsty masses. Many have copied it but clearly this borrowed from other sources also ('Escape from New York' visually). Jammed packed with all the Arnie one liners you could want, dancing big haired blondes, some good bloody moments and a perfectly sleazy performance by real ex-gameshow host Dawson as the manipulative gameshow host 'Killian' (nasty sounding name also).

Predictable of course but its fun to watch the audience and viewers slowly get behind 'Richards' as he defeats the 'stalkers' one at a time. Watching 'Killian' and his yes men squirm as they know 'Richards' is coming to get them. A bit silly how this one act of rebellion seems to bring down the whole corrupt system as the resistance starts to broadcast the truth and everybody just believes it straight away but hey...its an Arnie film.

'I told Killian I'd be back. I wouldn't want to be a liar'
July 14, 2012

Super Reviewer

I loved the idea behind this movie, but there have been many other better movies with the same idea, and the movie itself is predictable and much like Schwarzenegger's other films. Richard Dawson was perfect as the game show host, though, I really liked him. Overall, it's okay, but I wouldn't recommend it. A similar, but better movie: Deathrow Gameshow.
November 13, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. Amber Mendez: They were last season's winners!
    2. Fireball Stalker: No, last season's losers.
    – Submitted by Matthew D (7 months ago)
    1. Dynamo Stalker: You thought it was funny out there in the zone? What's the matter now, bitch! Why aren't you laughing?
    – Submitted by Matthew D (7 months ago)
    1. Damon Killian Running Man Game-Show Host: You bastard! Drop dead!
    2. Ben "Butcher of Bakersfield" Richards: I don't do requests.
    – Submitted by Matthew D (7 months ago)
    1. Ben "Butcher of Bakersfield" Richards: Hello there, Cutie pie. One of us is in deep trouble.
    – Submitted by Matthew D (15 months ago)
    1. Damon Killian Running Man Game-Show Host: Ladies & Gentlemen, if you just bear with us, we are experiencing technical difficulties.
    2. Elderly Lady: Bullshit!
    – Submitted by Matthew D (15 months ago)
    1. Ben "Butcher of Bakersfield" Richards: It's showtime.
    – Submitted by Matthew D (15 months ago)
View all quotes (22)

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