73 Sports Movies In 73+ Days: 'The Running Man'

We’ve entered what was supposed to be the final week of this 73 Sports Movies in 73 Days experiment, but between several setbacks, a brief, unexpected trip to the Pacific Northwest and a lot of weekend movies left unmentioned, I’m going to keep going with this thing far into the immediate future. Hey, speaking of the future – let’s talk about the 1987 sci-fi thriller The Running Man today, because it featured the greatest sport of them all: HUNTING MEN.

Based on the 1982 Stephen King/Richard Bachman novel of the same name, The Running Man was a look into a dystopian 2017 society, in which the global economy collapses and the U.S. government starts ordering the massacres of civilians in major cities. Or as InfoWars would call it… a true story right around the corner.

Regardless of the terrifying political theme, this is a movie about the greatest athletes in the world competing for the most valuable prize – their lives.

“This is a sport of death and honor… CODE OF THE GLADIATORS!”

That’s the phrase uttered late in the movie by Captain Freedom, played with incredible zest and flamboyance by the legendary Jesse “The Body” Ventura, but the point of The Running Man is introduced early on, as it is the world’s No. 1 TV show.

It’s important to note that even as all society has broken down and people are living in filthy ghettos on the outskirts of fully fortified military metropolises, TV is still the most important thing in our lives. So that’s great news, obviously, for the Kardashians.

Ben Richards was a military helicopter pilot in 2017 and he was ordered to gun down and kill a mob of 60 men, women and children as they rioted for food in Bakersfield, California. For as much as we’ve laughed at the sheer lunacy of 1980s movies during this adventure, nothing ever beats the awesomeness of the portrayal of the future in 80s sci-fi films. Just take a look at the computer guidance system that apparently reveals to Ben that there are dozens of innocent people on the ground.


Anyway, Ben’s not a monster so he refuses the order to slaughter women and children, but the other soldiers have no problem with it, so they knock him out, frame him for it and then send him off to prison for two years, where he grows a beard and carries really heavy objects.

During his time in the government’s intense labor prison camp, Ben and two other criminals orchestrate a plan to overtake their guards and bust out of the heavily-guarded clink. The problem with that is all the prisoners are wearing these neck bombs, and this is what happens if they try to make a break for it:

Ouchtown, bro.

But one of Ben’s cohorts is a computer geek school teacher and he knows how to break the code to turn off the barrier sensors. You know, after the one guy blows his own head off. Once the sensors are down, all of the convicted murderers and rapists escape back into civilization, but it’s totally cool, because Ben’s kind of free now.

Unfortunately, while he was locked up, Ben’s brother was also taken in for “re-education” because fabricated massacres probably run in the family. Living in Ben’s brother’s apartment now is Amber Mendez, a pop singer who works for the ICS network that hosts The Running Man. What a convenient coincidence, eh? Wanna know what exercise looks like in 2019? For starters, this is the most physically fit man in America…

And Amber works out on a Bowflex. Congrats, Bowflex. You made the cut after the fall of the middle class era.

As Ben is showering in Amber’s apartment, she watches the report about how he escaped, so he has to kidnap her and threaten her life in order to use her to escape to Hawaii, where I’m not even sure that he knows what would happen next. It didn’t matter, though, because Amber totally punches him in the nuts and snitches on him, as she should have.

Only, as she watches Ben’s eventual introduction on The Running Man, she realizes that everyone’s making sh*t up about him, because there’s no way that he killed anyone while she was with him at the airport. Unless maybe she was in the bathroom, and he was like, “God, this girl is taking forever!” before stabbing two guys in the face. But I don’t think they had the time for that, so Amber’s assumption that it was staged is pretty legit.

Nobody would even believe Amber, though, because The Running Man is hosted by Damon Killian, who is loved by everyone, and they prove this because he shouts, “Who do you love?” and the audience of rich, white, old ladies shouts back, “Damon!”

While Amber is digging around through the ICS archives for the original massacre footage (hey, it might actually be that simple in network storage rooms) Ben and the two guys he escaped camp with are launched into The Running Man field of battle. But before he is shot into the tubes, Ben tells Damon, “I’ll be back!” and Damon is like, “Only in reruns!” and several studio execs snorted huge lines of coke while a new line of prostitutes was marched into the room.

And I know that they were bringing in strippers and dancers, because someone had the idea to make it so The Running Man show’s hot dancers taunted the convicted murderers and rapists that were eventually launched into the tubes to their deaths. I mean, check this girl out:

First up for Ben and the two other guys whose names I never remember is Subzero (Professor Toru Tanaka), who is a hulking Asian man dressed as a hockey goalie, yet he has the ability to chase his targets around at great speed before ultimately catching them and sweeping them into net traps. It’s just too bad that Subzero isn’t as quick on his feet as Ben, because Ben rips his throat to pieces with a giant section of barbed wire.

The Running Man is also filled with great one-liners, including, “Subzero is plain zero!” By the way, the audience member who nominated Subzero in the first place? That’s right, Charlie Kelly’s mom.

Next, some geek can’t make up his mind between Dynamo and Buzzsaw, so Damon is like, “Send them both!” which doesn’t seem very fair, but you also have to keep in mind that the people in the audience are under the impression that the stalkers are going after hardened criminals. And they technically still are, because only Ben was actually innocent.

Oh, and Amber was caught and sent into The Running Man field as well, because there’s no discrimination in the future. See? That’s a positive.

Buzzsaw was pretty cool, but Dynamo was the worst. I hate opera music. At first, when Ben lets him go after he flips his little go-cart like a complete moron, I was really pissed because I wanted to see Dynamo die. But I’m a patient guy, so I’ll wait to see if that’s addressed later. As for Buzzsaw, his death was the most gruesome, because Ben ran a chainsaw up his taint.

Next up is Jim Brown as Fireball, but the old lady that Damon pulls out of the audience picks Ben to make the next kill, because he’s “one mean motherfucker.” So even the audience of wealthy people is beginning to favor the guy who they think is responsible for 60+ murders of innocent women and children, because people in 2019 are seriously dicks.

After Amber figures out that the only three winners of The Running Man in the show’s history were actually murdered and left to rot in an underground locker room, Fireball tries to kill her before Ben saves her and blows up his latest stalker. That leaves one stalker left in the green room, and that’s Captain Freedom himself.

The problem is Captain Freedom won’t fight with whatever weapons his tin can armor provides him with. He wants Ben straight up, one-on-one, just like the gladiators used to do it, hence that quote. Damon wants Ben dead immediately, though, and he can’t afford to lose his last stalker – especially since Ben won’t accept his back door offer to join the show, which is ludicrous, because who wouldn’t want to do that? – so Damon sends Captain Freedom away. The Body deserves way better than this.

However, the Body does end up murdering Ben once the show’s producers use some more awesome 2019 technology to swap Ben’s image onto a previous contestant. Of course, no one in the audience would ever think, “Hey, I feel like I’ve watched this before.” So everyone thinks that Ben is dead now, even though he’s not and he’s hanging out with the Resistance, which has been inside of The Running Man battle fields the entire time.

Remember the unedited digital footage that Amber found in the ICS archives? Turns out she hid it in her vagina.

The Resistance can now take over the ICS satellite and reveal the truth about Damon, The Running Man and especially Ben to everyone watching at home.

All eight or nine of the Resistance’s soldiers, including Mick Fleetwood and Dweezil Zappa for some reason, are able to take the entire ICS building over and kill all of the security personnel, mainly because none of the guards knows how to aim a rifle. Unfortunately for Amber, as she’s off on her own, Dynamo finds her and tries to rape her. Even more unfortunately for Dynamo, Amber fires her gun at the sprinklers and he is sprayed with water and electrocuted in his tighty whities.

Ben finally catches up with Damon and fires out two more classic catch phrases with, “I don’t do requests” as he listens to Damon beg for his life, and “That hit the spot” when Damon’s Running Man cart flies into a billboard for Cadre Cola, which Damon endorses. Naturally, the billboard explodes, because it’s the future and all billboards are made of C4.

And, of course, even though Ben should despise Amber for ratting him out to the cops, they get it on, because there’s no need for them to haul ass out of the building and find protection and safety, as the government is undoubtedly going to nuke that building and the Resistance.

Other Fun Facts About 2019:

– The Justice Department has an entertainment division and the President has his own entertainment agent, because that’s just how sh*t runs now. Hollywood all up in this piece.

– The other big game show on ICS is Climbing for Dollars, which has convicts climbing a rope to grab wads of cash as angry dogs try to tear their legs to shreds. I would admittedly watch this.

– This is how people in 2019 still dress when they travel to Hawaii, because we love crapping on that culture:

That prediction really isn’t that far off (writes the guy who refused to wear anything but a flowered shirt on his last vacation).

– Everyone in the future gambles on a TV game show. Even the poor people. So keep that in mind when you’re planning for the global economic collapse. Put some money aside and become a bookie.

– Other than The Running Man and Climbing for Dollars, there’s nothing else on TV. That blows my mind, because I assumed there could be an all-out nuclear apocalypse and 100 years later someone would still be showing Friends reruns.

Final Grade: One out of one TV that everyone has to gather around and watch 6 years from now.