After being framed for murder, Arnie is sent to - and prompty escapes from a maximum security institution. He is soon recaptured, then is hand-picked by the corrupt organiser of a popular tv show to compete in a brutal game against all the odds. He, along with his friends are then thrown into a 'zone' where they must battle against heavily-armed foes for their survival.
Based on a story written by Stephen King (under the name of Richard Bachman).
What seemed like a far-fetched fantasy when it was released now seems more relevant than ever a quarter century on thanks to things like the Patriot Act, SOPA, and the advent of "reality" television. There is inevitably a bit of Eighties cheese clinging to the film: railing kills, one-liners, big hair and a synth score, but it succeeds due to Arnie's charm, Dawson's marvelous amount of smarm, and some sly wit. Of course, the message that you shouldn't trust what you see onscreen will always be relevant.
Amusing now to see a 'future' where people still listen to cassette tapes and talk on corded phones, but you do have to admire any film which delivers a heartfelt performance from the drummer for Fleetwood Mac...
New screenshots are from BluRay, which although grainy, is a million times better quality than the lousy DVD release.
2017 note: Every year that passes makes this movie seems more relevant. Unfortunately, I think the filmmakers were a bit too optimistic about people's reaction to our government lying to us. People are sheep, and our leaders know it very well.