Jong-Woo (Shin Ha-Kyun) went to prison four times for petty crimes likes burglary and car theft, but he now works as an auto mechanic. He has a 17-year-old son named Gi-Hyuk (Lee Min-Ho), which he raises by himself. Gi-Hyuk is a smart kid, but troubled. The father and the son also do not get along. Although, Jong-Woo might appear like an irresponsible father, he tries his best and even works at night as a private taxi service. One evening, Jong-Woo drops off a couple at a ritzy hotel. Suddenly, another man hops into Jong-Woo’s car and tells him to drive off. Once the man pulls out large stash of cash, Jong-Woo is happy to drive the man wherever he wants. The man asks Jong-Woo to drive him to a delivery company. Jong-Woo walks into the delivery company and asks for directions to the bathroom. He then notices the man mailing off a small electronic device. The man then comes up to Jong-Woo and offers him $1,000 if he will drive him to an apartment and then to the airport. Jong-Woo happily agrees, but he first grabs the man’s cellphone and calls his own cellphone.
Once they get into the parking garage of the apartment complex, Jong-Woo’s life is about to turn completely upside down. He runs out of the garage on foot and becomes the prime suspect in a murder case. Meanwhile, Gi-Hyuk is shocked and confused that his father is now a murder suspect. Gi-Hyuk attempts to uncover the truth. This was an OK action/thriller with a couple of good laughs. It is not as good as I have come to expect out of South Korea, but that bar is set high due to the fact that South Korea has produced some amazing movies in the last decade or two. This was a one time watch. If you have already watched the cream of the countries crop, then this will be fine.
Personally, I find Lee Min-ho’s portrayal of Gi-Hyuk slightly lukewarm…and pales in comparison to Shin Ha-Kyun’s Jong-woo. Maybe this is not fair to Lee Min-ho, since the spotlight of the whole movie is on Jong-woo. But I do think that the conflict Gi-Hyuk felt towards his dad could have been better dealt with. It is easy to turn from disliking Jong-woo (the cheesy sloppy dad) to finally rooting for him, partly from Shin’s realistic portrayal of Jong-woo’s desperation, then later his need to protect his son (above his own well-being), and finally his determination to take the bad guys down (with him, if necessary).
The film succeeds in providing it’s audience with laughs and moments of awe for the endless stunts that the story rides on but where it fails is it seems to be half hearted and struggling to float it’s secondary storyline. Over all Running Man is a funny getaway film, filled with great stunts and solid CG work. In fact I haven’t laughed at a film so much in a while, so this was refreshing. It’s ambitious not just because comedy is hard to do but also due to the amount and scale of stunts performed in the film. Well worth the price of admission and well acted by it’s cast.