The Running Man (1987)

runningman_2Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Conchita Alonso, Richard Dawson, Yaphet Kotto, Jim Brown, Jesse Ventura, Erland van Lidth, Marvin J. McIntyre, Gus Rethwisch, Professor Toru Tanaka, Mick Fleetwood, Dweezil Zappa, Kurt Fuller

Directed by Paul Michael Glaser

Expectations: Super high, this is one of my favorite movies.


As with Commando, I’m unable to give The Running Man anything less than a full and total endorsement of four stars. I’ve seen this film more times than I could ever remember; at this point it almost seems like I was the one who escaped from prison and got roped into a sadistic, future game show when the girl I kidnapped ratted me out. But my love of The Running Man isn’t blind, and now that I’m tasked with sharing my thoughts, I’ll do my best to relate why I think it’s such a great movie.

The film began its life under director Andrew Davis, who was just coming off of the Chuck Norris movie Code of Silence and would later go on to make such films as Under Siege, The Fugitive and Collateral Damage. Davis was fired after one week of filming, and Arnold is on record saying that this hurt the film because the replacement director, Paul Michael Glaser, shot it like a TV show. I love Arnold, but I have to disagree. The Running Man is gorgeous, and the look is one of the main reasons it succeeds. The film bursts with colors, from bright neons to dark blacks and blues. Thick fog and dirty mists swirl around our characters, filling many of the shots with a level of intoxicating cinematography usually unseen in genre fare like this.

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Dark of the Sun (1968)

Starring Rod Taylor, Jim Brown, Yvette Mimieux, Peter Carsten, Kenneth More, André Morell, Olivier Despax, Guy Deghy, Bloke Modisane, Calvin Lockhart, Alan Gifford, David Bauer

Directed by Jack Cardiff

Expectations: High, I’ve heard great things. This is a favorite of Scorsese and Tarantino as well.

The second movie this week that features a crazy ex-Nazi! I swear I didn’t plan it this way. Unlike Crawlspace though, Dark of the Sun is a lot more than just a crazy ex-Nazi film. It oozes style, machismo and gritty violence. Tarantino is a big fan of this one and after watching it, it’s no secret why. It’s remarkable that a film like this could even be made by a major studio in 1968, and as such feels a lot more like a big budget B-picture than a traditional studio film.

Rod Taylor and Jim Brown play a pair of mercenaries hired to take a steam train deep into the volatile Congo in order to rescue a town full of trapped European settlers… and $50 million in diamonds! They assemble a small force for the mission, a simple three-day job that requires with crackerjack timing if they are to avoid massive casualties. That’s ain’t the way it’s goin’ down for our steel-willed heroes though, is it?

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