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The Running Man
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Length:1 Hour 41 Minutes
Cast:Paul Michael Glaser, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Conchita Alonso, Richard Dawson

Based on a fanciful page-turner written (pseudonymously) by Stephen King, this futuristic thriller -- crammed with action and breathlessly paced -- shows Arnold Schwarzenegger at his bone-crunching best. The Running Man, originally released in 1987, took a drubbing from overly sensitive critics who fretted that it glorified violence and wallowed in gore. Their protests certainly didn't inhibit the film's box-office performance, as it proved an international smash and enhanced Arnold's burgeoning rep as a top draw. It also influenced at least a half dozen similarly themed sci-fi flicks that have followed. It takes place in the year 2019, with the United States under totalitarian control and its increasingly restive populace thirsting for violent entertainment. Unfairly imprisoned Ben Richards (Schwarzenegger) is chosen to participate in a bizarre show that pits convicts against ruthless assassins known as "stalkers." Prisoners who evade their murderous pursuers can earn their freedom, and Ben is determined to make the most of his opportunity. Directed with verve by former cop-show star Paul Michael Glaser (The Cutting Edge), Running Man doesn't offer much by way of social commentary. It does, though, dazzle viewers with a series of bloody battles and mind-blowing stunts. Maria Conchita Alonso, Yaphet Kotto, and Jim Brown all afford Schwarzenegger able support, with Richard Dawson (parodying his TV-host trade) and Jesse Ventura (in his WWF prime) both adding to the fun. Unabashedly trashy, The Running Man is mindless fun that shows one of the screen's greatest action heroes in peak form. Ed Hulse

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