The Running Man is a film based on a surprisingly good short story by Stephen King. King's tale, a sort of beefed-up '1984', has a man on the run not only from the law, but from a repressive society at large. It's gritty, gruesome, and so different from the film as to be nearly unrecognizable.
The film itself is quite good, although it should be noted from the onset that it has a lot of truly agonizing mid-1980s styles and mannerisms. Some seem almost farcical, such as the earrings and female hairstyles, but if you can look beyond them you'll likely enjoy this film. In a nutshell, good ol' Arnie plays a cop (really a special police trooper) who refuses to fire on unarmed food rioters and is arrested. Society has been transformed into a totalitarian nightmare where the masses are controlled through the media and spoon-fed various gameshows such as 'Climbing for Dollars' where people try to avoid attack dogs and earn cash prizes, and of course the most popular, the Running Man. The Running Man itself is a gameshow in which fugitives are released into 200 square blocks (the "game zone") of burnt out LA and then chased around by stalkers as a live studio audience watches. You can probably see where this is going.
Long story short, of course Arnie and his buddies end up in The Running Man show and are chased around by some colorful and entertaining stalkers. The film does a fairly good job of playing around with the underlying social commentaries of facism and media control (Robocop actually does a better job, and there are similar tongue-in-cheek remarks made in Starship Troopers). Stalkers are picked to chase our heroes by housewives who like them "big and cuddly," audience members are chosen a la The Price is Right to win extra prizes including "The Running Man Home Version" board game, and as Arnie smashes, bludgeons, mauls, and one-liners his way through the various stalkers sent to kill him, he gradually wins over the crowd, and manages to roll back the media control gripping the masses.
The film isn't nearly as gritty as the novel, and often seems downright cartoonish, with stalkers effectively interchangeable with modern professional wrestlers (in a few cases literally, such as Jesse "Captain Freedom" Ventura, who does a hilarious turn as a retired champion tapped to do away with vexatious Ahnold and who refuses to wear pastic robot armor for the home audience). All in all the film is a guilty pleasure with its endlessly entertaining one-liners and is about on par with Total Recall for its production values. As Arnold pictures go, I think it loses out to classics such as Conan the Barbarian or Predator, but still deserves a place in your DVD library.