Nowhere to Run (1993 film)

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Nowhere to Run
Nowhere to Run.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Harmon
Screenplay by
Story by
Produced by
CinematographyDavid Gribble
Edited by
Music byMark Isham
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release dates
  • January 14, 1993 (1993-01-14) (Singapore)
  • January 15, 1993 (1993-01-15) (United States)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$15 million
Box office$64 million[1]

Nowhere to Run is a 1993 American action film starring Jean-Claude Van Damme and directed by Robert Harmon. The film co-stars Rosanna Arquette, Kieran Culkin, Ted Levine and Joss Ackland. It was released in the United States on January 15, 1993.[2] The film was the second collaboration between Van Damme and producer Craig Baumgarten, after Universal Soldier (1992).


A prison bus flips on the road when it's cut off by another car. In the chaos, a man named Billy frees a man named Sam Gillen (Jean-Claude Van Damme) by taking a guard hostage. Sam and Billy escape in the car but Billy is fatally shot by a guard.

Sam buys some food from a roadside store and camps near a pond. He finds the money from their heist and listens to a tape recording left by Billy before pushing the car into the pond. That night, Sam sneaks up to a nearby house and sees a woman and her two children inside. He breaks in but is nearly discovered by one of the kids; he takes a salt shaker and leaves. The next night he breaks in again; the following morning, the boy (named Mookie) finds Sam's campsite.

Nearby demolition from real estate development disturbs Clydie Anderson, the owner of the home. Corrupt developer Franklin Hale seeks to drive her off the land with the help of his lackey, Mr. Dunston, and the local sheriff, Lonnie Poole, who is dating Clydie. One night, some goons attack Clydie and her children, but Sam arrives and fights them off. He claims he is camping and hunting on her land, and Clydie insinuates that he is not welcome, but offers him shelter in her barn out of gratitude. He also purchases her dead husband's old Triumph Bonneville motorcycle and repairs it with Mookie's help. Later Sam thwarts an attempt by Hale to ruin Clydie's farmland by coating it with oil.

A town council meeting gets heated when another resident, Tom, refuses to sell his land to Hale. That night, his goons burn down Tom's barn. Mookie (who discovers the fire) awakens Sam; Sam saves Tom and puts out the fire, further angering Hale. Noticing that Clydie is taking a liking to Sam, Lonnie beats him and demands he leave. While tending his wounds, Clydie and Sam have sex. Lonnie continues to grow suspicious of Sam and Clydie's relationship; he finds out Sam is a fugitive and informs Clydie, who tells him to leave.

Sam returns to his camp site, but Hale enlists the sheriff's department to hunt him down. Sam leads them on a motorcycle chase and ultimately escapes, but decides to return to Clydie. Running out of time and growing desperate, Hale and Dunston go to Clydie's house with guns and force her to sign over the land. Sam arrives just in time to stop them from burning down the house and kills Dunston. The police arrive and arrest Hale (who is holding Clydie at gun point); Sam allows Lonnie to arrest him, having decided to stop running but promises to return to Clydie and the kids, whom he loves.



Development and writing[edit]

Joe Eszterhas wrote the original script with director Richard Marquand, with whom he had made two films. He had originally written the script as more of a serious drama film with action elements however according to Eszterhas "The script was taken and destroyed many years later by Jean-Claude Van Damme as Nowhere to Run," said Eszterhas. "It lost its sensitivity, it lost everything. I don't like to remember that movie."[3]

The film was the first in a three picture deal between Van Damme and Columbia Pictures. His fee was $3.5 million. Columbia said the film is ”true to his audience and goes beyond his audience."[4]

Van Damme later said, "the script was... not that good. The writer told me he was going to fix everything. I was in his house, he shook my hand, he promised me, but he didn't fix it."[5]


Box office[edit]

Nowhere to Run opened January 15, 1993, in 1,745 theaters. In its opening weekend, the film made $8,203,255, at #4 behind Aladdin's tenth weekend, A Few Good Men's sixth, and Alive's first weekend.[6]

The film finally grossed $22,189,039 in the United States and Canada.[7] The film performed better internationally, grossing $41.9 million in other territories for a worldwide gross of $64 million.[1]

Critical response[edit]

The film received mostly mixed reviews from critics.[8][9][10][11][12] Rotten Tomatoes reports that 30% of 23 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 4/10.[13] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.[14] Despite that, the film has a cult following with most fans declaring it as "one of Van Damme's better films".


  1. ^ a b Klady, Leonard (January 3, 1994). "Warner Bros. tops hot box office 100". Variety. p. 42.
  2. ^ Thomas, Kevin (1993-01-18). "Van Damme flexes his acting muscles in 'run'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-02.
  3. ^ Vulliamy, Ed (20 August 2000). "The Hollywood Hitman". The Guardian.
  4. ^ Cagle, Jess (22 January 1993). "Career makeover: Jean-Claude Van Damme". EW.
  5. ^ Grobel, Lawrence (January 1995). "Interview with Jean Claude Van Damme". Playboy magazine.
  6. ^ Fox, David J. (1993-01-19). "Weekend Box Office 'Body' Struggles to Make the Top 5". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-02.
  7. ^ Nowhere to Run at Box Office Mojo
  8. ^ Canby, Vincent (1993-01-16). "A Kickboxer's Evolution Into a Two-Fisted Lawyer". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-25.
  9. ^ "Nowhere to Run". Deseret News. Retrieved 2011-01-08.
  10. ^ "Nowhere to Run". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 2011-01-08.
  11. ^ "Nowhere to Run". Washington Post. 1993-01-18. Retrieved 2011-01-08.
  12. ^ "Nowhere to Run". Variety. 1992-12-31. Retrieved 2011-01-08.
  13. ^ Nowhere to Run at Rotten Tomatoes
  14. ^ "CinemaScore".

External links[edit]