It had explosions and freaky scenery while Michael Bay was still in art school, a Cleveland Brown, the host of Family Feud...and the governor of California! The Running Man! Come on down...!
In the wake of the talk of Sony "rebooting" the Spider Man series and the myriad of other films that were either fine or just sitting their doing nothing on the video store shelves BUT were or are being rebooted, we decided to take a look at a classic that hasn't been touched just yet....we don't believe....
THE RUNNING MAN is the story of that happy little shrimp up there in the poster and his efforts to survive in a chaotic world, played veritable unknown Murray Weintraub (a washed up towel boy who started lifting weights, built up a few muscles and legally changed his name to Arnold Schwarzennager).
With the amazingly cheesy one liners and the out and out violence exhibited by the man dubbed "The Austrian Oak", one would wonder why they would ever decide to touch such a nominaly created yet "wonderfully horrible" movie.
For those bags, he'd kick his grandfather down the stairs and then meet him at the bottom to kick him in the nuts.
Let us review this particular movie in all of its splendor and ponder the exact moves that Hollywood would make to get this movie back on screen to add more of those "$" bags to their collective laps.
In the not so distant year of 2017, when you commit a crime, you are convicted and sent to work in prison camps with this explosive bling bling around your neck. You cross an extremely well lit perimeter and...well...
That. Totally lowers your hat budget but you're headless. What a trade off.
Enter Ben Richards, a gargantuan in a prison jumpsuit with a checkered past and no intention of ending up minus one head. He's content with carrying steel girders around on his shoulder until Yaphet fucking Kotto comes along and changes up the damned game.
Goes from screwing with James Bond to freedom fighting with Schwarzennager? I'm skeptical.
Turns out that Yaphet is part of an underground resistance force, fighting the fascist network that has taken away our freedoms and ability to be ourselves. Because he was trying to teach kids why Captain Kirk was cooler than Jean Luc Picard, he was tossed in jail. Yaphet would have none of that and joined the resistance, plotting an escape from the prison. Ben Richards was a member of the fascist police force before he was framed for the murder of a bunch of picketers demanding their KFC vouchers for free grilled chicken be redeemed.
"Damnit! It's just roasted chick'n! Mat is rong mit dese pepil?!"
He decides prison life isn't all its cracked up to be and escapes along with Yaphet and a guy from Revenge of The Nerds in a daring "prison escape sequence" but all with explosive devices strapped to their necks. Until the lead singer of a progressive 70's rock band removed said device.
No. No. A thousand times no.
Mick Fleetwood actually frees them and let's them "go there own way" which Schwarzennager does, deciding freedom fighting isn't enough of a repitition to help him develop his quads and pecks. Plus getting shot at sucks. So he plans to get the hell out of town and visits his brother to sponge some cash off of him.
Then he meets her...
Amber Mendez (played by the totally awesome Maria Conchita Alonso) lives in the apartment where Ben's brother used to and Ben, like any 80's film hero would do decides to kidnap her and use her to get out of the U.S. Not down with the plan, Amber helps to get Ben caught by the authorities...which is where our story really begins.
Enter Damon Killian, the host of the number one show in America, "The Running Man". On this particular show, convicted criminals that would normally spend their days working in prison metalworks and plotting extensive prison escape sequences get to earn their freedom by matching themselves up against "The Stalkers", a group of socitpaths that will hunt them around a huge sectioned off area of the city. If you escape, you win an all expenses paid trip to a local paradise.
Consolation prize: your dead ass carcass paraded around for the home audience to watch with delight.
When Damon learns about Ben's escape from jail and his subsequent capture, he creams his Botany 500 suit to get Ben on his show, knowing the ratings will go up with such a popularly hated man on the show. Killian gets his wish as Ben Richards, his old pal Yaphet and that nerdy kid from "Grease" end up getting sent into the "gamezone" in this classic sequence.
RICHARDS: "Killian...I'll be back."
KILLIAN: "...you haven't gone anywhere just yet to make that statement."
RICHARDS: "Yes, but technically, I am making note of my return."
KILLIAN: "It's possible. Not likely, but possible."
Amber, suspicious of Ben's dark past being as dark as it starts sniffing around and gets caught, ending up inside of the gamezone along with the three schnooks, teaching her a pretty big lesson about being a nosey bitch with morals and values.
So we've got four people falsely convicted of their crimes (except for the nerdy guy. They should've NEVER made sequels to those nerd movies. NEVER!) trying to flee for their lives and a group of guys whose job it is to make sure they don't do that. Let's meet 'em!
PROFESSOR SUB ZERO
What's more deadly than having real life judo expert / pro boxer / professional wrestler Professor Toru Tanaka hunting you down with the intent of killing you with his bare hands? Why, have him done ice skates and a razor sharp hockey stick to pursue you in restrictive ice skating gear and either hack you to death or blow you up with an explosive hockey puck.
"Nearing copyright infringement, tubby! You're skatin' on thin ice! Are any of these jokes getting through the fat around your ears?! Will anybody get this reference?!!"
But the miracle of the beefy Professor Sub Zero comes to pass, skating around in a "death rink" designed to finish off the contestants. Chasing them around with the ability to stop suddenly and change his direction to avoid oncoming attacks doesn't daunt the professor though.
Until Arnold finds some handy barbwire nearby (?!) and plays on that error in judgment, strangling the professor to death for everyone at home to see.
Still more entertaining than watching this...
And of course Arnold's classic line:
"Hey, Killian! Sub Zero, now...a dead, fatso with barbwire around his neck! Up top, Yaphet!"
A dead Stalker stop the show? Hell, no! Killian pushes forward happily, realizing he's got a ratings buster of a show and decides to double up the fun by sending two Stalkers after our prey instead of just one.
A man with a chainsaw that can cut through solid steel is a dangerous man. Give him a bad ass motorcyle, he's even more dangerous. Have him wear a mesh tank top and cut his hair like his barber had cataracts...he's nightmare fuel.
DYNAMO AKA LIGHTHEAD AKA CHRISTMASTREE
On the topic of "nightmare fuel", we come to Dynamo, a man with a "wait" problem (he can't wait to kill! Ba-zing!) in a suit that can generate electricity and grill you like an eoconomy sized Panini. Complete with creepy ass mohawk and his almost too small motor car, he patrols the gamezone for his enemies and the eventual opportunity to molest Maria Conchita Alonso.
Splitting up, Richards and Yaphet enter another building that has closed them in (it's called "Running Man", not "We Shouldn't Go In There, Man" after all), perfect conditions for Buzzsaw to attack, leaving little room to escape.
Amber and a grown up Waldo from Van Halen's "Hot For Teacher" video come across an access satelite where Waldo borrows the codes that will allow the resistance to jam Killian's boss' signal and tell people the truth. Everything is going swimmingly until our buddy Dynamo shows up and Waldo gets a deadly amount of voltage.
Two decades too late. Poor Nerd guy. He will be avenged....
Meanwhile, our heroes are playing "dodge the chainsaw" with Buzzsaw when Yaphet does something his bad guy character from "Live And Let Die" wouldn't do. He takes a chainsaw to the chest meant for Richards. Squaring off "mano a mano", Richards and Buzzsaw fight over custody of the chainsaw. Buzzsaw tearfully wins.
Richards emerges from a one minute goodbye to Yaphet and both sections of Buzzsaw to prevent Maria from being raped, leading Dynamo in a hilarious "fat guy in a go-cart" chase sequence that ends with our electric lard lad upside down in his conveyance and Richards ready to kill him. But Richards passes as it is bad luck to murder THREE men in a row and leaves Dynamo to flounder.
And Arnold's classic line:
AMBER: "What happened to Buzzsaw?"
RICHARDS: "He had to have his chainsaw applied to his scrotum and ass."
AMBER: "Not a classic. Work on it."
RICHARDS: "You come up with something more peppy, Wordsworth."
Down to his last Stalker and getting a bit worried, Killian sees the crowd turning to favor Richards so we get to see our last superstar killing machine in action.
Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown played the mysterious Fireball, a man who had a love for fire and knew how to use it. Complete with a jetpack, Fireball hunted down his opponents with a special flamethrower, somehow not burning up all of his fuel between the two exploits and roasting them to death for their trouble.
Running for their lives, Richards and Amber go underground (trapping themselves again...a-holes!) and splitting up, Amber stumbles on the secret hiding place of three previous winners of "The Running Man". Phony pictures of three cadavers were produced to fool people into thinking you can actually win the show when no matter what you do, you're a goner. Fireball shows up to confirm this for Amber, leaving Richards enough time to disconnect his uncovered fuel hoses, knock him down and strike a road flare he just happened to find and turn Fireball into...well...
And Arnold's classic line:
RICHARDS: "Hey, how about burning to death while wondering why the fuck anyone would leave flares down here?"
Preparing to shit a brick, Killian makes the choice to go to a retired Stalker turned correspondent, Captain Freedom aka former wrestler and future governor Jesse Ventura. Getting paid a fraction of what Ryan Seacrest does and told to use gimmicks to stop Richards, the Captain tells Killian to suck his own.
Doesn't look the same without the boa. The toupee is feathered, but it's not the same...
Without a final act, Killian simply decides to use "futuristic" CGI matte technology to create a phony ending for the home audience to see Amber and Ben Richards killed at the hands of Captain Freedom. Finding Richards and Amber in the gamezone, Mick brings them in but realizing that Killian can't allow them to live, they join the resistance. Other than her smoking hotness, Amber offers both the uplink code to the network satelites and what actually happened with Ben at the food riot. With the code, Mick can finally jam Killian's "lies, sweet little lies" and the assault begins.
Richards, Amber, Frank Zappa's son, and a bunch of walk ons attack the network studio and after jamming the satelite feed, they play a montage video showing how Killian lied, including Ben Richards NOT firing on anyone in the food riot. Just SUGGESTING to fire, possibly just to wound them or drive them down the block to Burger King. Amber runs into a pissed off Dynamo who drops trou and attempts to mount her again, only to learn the error in his ways as the sprinkler system is tripped and Dynamo is electrocuted. Killian and Richards reunite as promised before Richards stuffs him into a rocket sled and sends the gameshow staple careening into a cola ad and his fiery death.
And Arnold's classic line:
RICHARDS: "Now THAT hit the spot. And by spot I mean that advertisement. And by THAT I mean Killian. Just clarifying."
It's the future, where people are still persecuted for crimes against the state and speaking against the all powerful networks. One man will stand up against them all, wrongfully accused for his crimes and he will do it by surviving a horrific game of cat and mouse with four brutal, psychotic killers.
ZAC EFRON is Ben Richards in the all new, dance themed, action adventure...
"Sometimes...when freedom is just within your grasp...all there's left to do is..."
"THE RUNNING MAN"
Also starring Megan Fox as Amber Mendez
Anthony Anderson as Laughlin (Yaphet Kotto?)
Michael Cera as Weiss (The Nerdy Guy)
Simon Cowell as Damon Killian
See, in THIS version, there are a bunch of musical numbers before the actual murdering, a pantload of dancing and instead of killing Killian at the end of the movie, he escapes so that they can do a sequel to it.
THE RUNNING MAN II: STEP UP OR GET SERVED IN THE STREETS...
As one of my favorite movies with total "rewatchability", it can be honestly be said that this is a movie that doesn't need to be "re-approached to look at that story from a different point of view". As previously stated (SPOILER ALERT), Ben Richards dies in the book by slamming a plane into the network building, none of the characters we've come to know and love involved. Looks to be the only other way you could approach a rewrite which is:
A) A huge downer
B) Probably not something audiences would want to see
So how long will it be before the studios decide to buy the rights to this movie, pen a few original songs like "Killian's Soliloquy" or a choreographed dance number for the Stalkers comes to light?
There are fewer and fewer movies that, from our youth, can be considered "classic" for one reason or another. Fewer and fewer because they're being picked off one by one in attempt to "re-do a classic", only succeeding in marring it for the sake of box office sales.
Why not go and remake "Iron Eagle" with Robert Pattinson and Will Smith?
Leave "The Running Man" alone, Hollywood...or to quote the immortial bard:
"I'll stick the remake in you stomach and rip out you gahddame SPINE!"