• The Running Man (Umbrella Entertainment) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Umbrella Entertainment
    Released on: February 5th, 2020.
    Director: Paul Michael Glaser
    Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Conchita Alonso, Yaphet Kotto, Jim Brown, Jesse Ventura, Richard Dawson
    Year: 1987
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    The Running Man – Movie Review:

    The America of the future of 2019 is a very different place than the America of 1987. The country has been divided into different zones – the rich inhabiting one area, the poor another. A police force keeps the have-nots in line, doing the bidding of the wealthy portion of the populace. The zones which house the poor are subject to constant protests and acts of civil disobedience.

    One such inhabitant of this future America is Ben Richards (Arnold Schwarzenegger). He’s a former soldier who was ordered to fire on a group of unarmed civilians expressing their right to protest. When he refused, he was locked away in a prison but he and two other inmates - Harold Weiss (Marvin J. McIntyre) and William Laughlin (Yaphet Kotto)- managed to escape when riot breaks out. His escape plan quickly heads south thanks to the involvement of a woman named Amber Mendez (Maria Conchita Alonso) who believes him to be the maniacal killing machine that the manipulated news coverage on television has made him out to be! He soon finds himself in custody for a second time. While awaiting his sentencing, Damon Killian (Richard Dawson), the man who produces an insanely popular show called ‘The Running Man,’ takes notice of Ben. He figures Ben’s got what it takes to be a great contestant and after pulling a few strings, Richards is released to compete on the show.

    The catch? Ben and the other contestants don’t have to answer trivia questions or solve puzzles – instead they have to survive being hunted down by armed men with names like Subzero (Toru Tanaka), Buzzsaw (Gus Rethwisch), Dynamo (Erland van Lidth), Fireball (Jim Brown) and Captain Freedom (Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura), experts at their trade. When Ben and the others decide to fight back, the hunters realize they may have stepped in something while ratings go through the roof!

    Based on the book of the same name by Stephen King and adapted to the screen by Steven E. de Souza (the same man who wrote Commando and Die Hard), Starsky & Hutch star Paul Michael Glaser’s second feature as a director (following 1986’s Band Of The Hand) is light on character development but high on action and black comedy. The picture is quick in the pacing department, it moves nicely, and the set design is fantastic, the costuming as well. The score from Harold Faltermeyer is also pretty epic, and the whole look of the picture just works in the context of the story behind told.

    Schwarzenegger does a great job in the lead. He’s never been an actor of much range but Glaser is smart enough to play to his strengths. Arnold doesn’t get, or need for that matter, tons of dialogue but he does get to bust a lot of heads and run around a lot. He does these things well! And what a supporting cast! Not only do we get Family Feud’s Richard Dawson as the host of the show – a perfect casting choice if ever there was one – but we get Jesse Ventura scowling his way through the film and Jim Brown showing up as one of guys out to stop Ben. Throw in a super cute Maria Conchita Alonso, Yaphet Kotto and cameos from Dweezil Zappa and Mick Fleetwood (as an underground resistance leader!) of all people and you can see how this one shapes up an unexpected but interesting ways!

    The Running Man – Blu-ray Review:

    The Running Man is presented on a 50GB region free Blu-ray disc with the feature taking up just under 31GBs of space on that disc. The AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer is framed at 1.78.1 widescreen and was clearly taken from an older, and somewhat dated looking, master that definitely could have used some additional cleanup work (small white specks are noticeable throughout the film). Does this rise above DVD? Absolutely. Does it look any better than the other Blu-ray releases that are out there? Not really, though the compression might be slightly improved. This isn’t a bad transfer, to be clear, but it doesn’t rise to the heights that a new scan at 2k or even 4k would have been able to offer. Colors are handled nicely and black levels look good. The image isn’t as sharp or detailed as you might hope it to be, but it looks fine, even if it never looks amazing.

    The only audio option on the disc is a 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track but it’s a very good one. There’s plenty of rock-solid surround activity noticeable throughout the movie, though the vast majority of the dialogue stays up front in the mix. Bass response is tight and strong, there’s a very powerful low end to this mix, and lots of audible channel separation throughout. No complaints about the audio quality at all, it sounds very good. There are no alternate language options or subtitles of any kind provided here.

    There are no extras on the disc at all.

    The Running Man – The Final Word:

    The Running Man remains a ridiculously entertaining look at a dystopian future that never came to pass! Arnold is in top shape here, carrying the film, and he’s surrounded by a strong supporting cast. The film is paced well and plenty exciting – and it’s got some great comedic elements too. Umbrella Entertainment’s Blu-ray release is light on extras and the presentation won’t blow you away, but it looks okay and sounds great. Until a proper remastered special edition comes along, this’ll do.

    Click on the images below for full sized The Running Man Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Darcy Parker's Avatar
      Darcy Parker -
      This is almost as loosely based on the King novel as The Lawnmower Man was, but it’s dumb fun!