Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Arrow Video: RUNAWAY TRAIN on Blu-ray ""

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Arrow Video: RUNAWAY TRAIN on Blu-ray

RUNAWAY TRAIN(1985; Andrey Konchalovskly)
RUNAWAY TRAIN is rare animal in 80s action-thriller cinema in that Akira Kurosawa himself was part of the writing process. The script (by Eddie Bunker, Paul Zindel & Djorde Milicevic) was based on a screenplay by Kurosawa. So you've got some Kurosawa origins and a film released by the legendary Cannon Films group. That's an interesting combination for sure. Cannon is known (by many of us who grew up watching their films) for their gritty exploitation action movie output out of Charles Bronson and Chuck Norris films in the 1980s. RUNAWAY TRAIN definitely has some grit to it for sure. From the opening bits in a desolate, isolated Alaskan prison, I feel like you can feel the Cannon-ness of this movie creeping in. Early on their is a scene with the evil warden of the prison(played perfectly by John P. Ryan) confronting his most notorious prisoner(Jon Voight) in solitary confinement. In a lot of ways it's a very white hat/black hat kind of scene. John P. Ryan is clearly a dastardly fella and Jon Voight is only somewhat less-so. That's the Cannon-thing about it. Jon Voight is a ruthless criminal(a bankrobber) but he is not only a hero to his fellow inmates, he's also our hero too. I feel like Cannon films are littered with archetypal villains(often played by solid character actors) and lots of anti-hero type heroes. Voight's Oscar "Manny" Mannheim character seems to line up well with other Cannon anti-heroes like Paul Kersey or Col. James Braddock. I gotta say, I can see to some degree why these films and characters appealed to me as a kid. They were often very anti-authoritarian which is something I responded to a lot as a teenager. Also these guys were always up against some seriously bad people. Cannon films were never to subtle about showing how malicious and malevolent their baddies were. It always makes me think about a George Lucas quote I once heard where he was talking about turning an audience against a particular character. He said "Show them strangling a puppy" or something to that effect. I can really pretty easily picture any Cannon films villain strangling a small animal with some amount of glee.  John P. Ryan's Warden Ranken character is no exception. 
Let's talk about this movie's cast for a second. So there's John P. Ryan as I said. An unquestionably great character actor. Great menacing authoritative dude. He'll always be the principal of Jerry Mitchell's school in THREE O'CLOCK HIGH for me as that's what i first saw him in. "Don't fuck this up Mitchell!" is one of the great lines of 1980s cinema for my money. Anyway, so after Ryan you've got Voight and Eric Roberts. A good duo. Then there's Eddie Bunker who I love(writer of No Beast So Fierce which STRAIGHT TIME is based on). Being that he was an ex-con in real life, he always makes a good convict in movies. Then there's a rather frumpized Rebecca De Mornay. On backup vocals you've got a couple more classic character actors in T.K. Carter and Kenneth McMillan. I am a huge fan of both these guys as well. And if that weren't enough this film also features the debuts(I believe) of both Danny Trejo AND Tiny 'Zeus' Lister! Great stuff. 
So if you were of a movie-going age in the 1990s, you probably saw SPEED at some point. I still think that movie is pretty fun for what it is. Out of control vehicle movies are entertaining to me in a similar fashion to 'animals attack' movies. Just built in suspense and tension that keeps things interesting. RUNAWAY TRAIN is a great example of this type of movie. Very simple premise, it's all right there in the title. It's a good, well-paced, exciting thriller. Worth your time if you've not seen it. This Arrow Blu looks nice of course and it's got many extra features to boot:

- High Definition transfer of the film prepared by MGM for the Cannes Film Festival premiere
- Original Uncompressed Stereo Audio
- "Running on Empty" – An Interview with director Andrei Konchalovsky
- "From Thespian to Fugitive" – Star Jon Voight shares his memories of his Academy Award-nominated role
- "Sweet and Savage": Eric Roberts recalls his Academy Award-nominated performance
- "The Calm Before the Chaos" – Co-star Kyle T. Heffner remembers Runaway Train
- Trailer with commentary by Rod Lurie
- Original Trailer
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Joe Wilson
- Booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Michael Brooke, a new interview with Runaway Train’s Production Designer Stephen Marsh conducted by Calum Waddell, as well as the original Life Magazine article that inspired the film.

Available for purchase via Arrow's site:

No comments: