Peter’s Retro Movie Review: Raw Deal (1986)

Raw Deal (1986) Movie Posterby Peter Nielsen

Mark Kaminsky is a former FBI-agent who now works as a sheriff in a small town in North Carolina. He was forced to retire after he got a little rough with a suspect in a kidnapping-case involving an 11-year old girl. In his defense, Mr. Kaminsky says that he did what he did because the perpetrator “molested, murdered and mutilated her”. This is of course bad and serious, but I couldn’t help getting a little smirk on my face because, dammit… it just sounds funny when Mr. Schwarzenegger says it, ok?

And yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is an Arnold Schwarzenegger-flick. When you hear that name I suppose most people think of the Conan or Terminator-movies, or maybe Predator or Commando? Hell, they might even think of Kindergarten Cop or Twins before thinking of Raw Deal, which is partly why I chose it for this week’s review. The other reason being that I happen to think it’s a damn good movie.

So, Mark Kaminsky is stuck in this little town with a career going nowhere and a wife who’s taken to the bottle out of loneliness and utter boredom. When the son of FBI Chief Harry Shannon is killed by the mob while guarding a material witness, Harry turns to Mark for help. In the role of the FBI Chief I’m sure you’ll recognize Darren McGavin, you know… from Kolchack: The Night Stalker, a popular TV-show from 1974-75?

It's an Ah-nuhld drive by!

It’s an Ah-nuhld drive by!

Harry wants him to go undercover and infiltrate the gang of local mob-boss Luigi Patrovita in order to find out who leaked information to him about the abovementioned witness’ whereabouts. He also wants Patrovita dead for what he did to his son. Should Kaminsky succeed with this assignment it could get him re-instated in the bureau. But, there is of course, as always, a catch! Since this is kind of a personal vendetta for Harry Shannon, it means that HE is the only one knowing about it and about Mark Kaminsky! After staging his own death, Mark emerges as Joseph P. Brenner.

He starts by getting close to Patrovita’s right hand man Paulo Rocca, played by Paul Shenar (Scarface), who in turn introduces him to the hit-man Max Keller. Now, Max isn’t too keen on Brenner muscling his way into “his” territory. He gets suspicious and wants to know who the hell Joseph P. Brenner REALLY is. Max is played by the prolific actor, Robert Davi (The Goonies). Patrovita, Sam Wanamaker (Pure Luck), is of course also a bit suspicious and although he finds Brenner useful, he doesn’t want him too close.

Yes, I WANT you to look at her cleavage... or else!

Yes, I WANT you to look at her cleavage… or else!

Things get more and more intense as Kaminsky/Brenner walks a thin line, where he on one hand has to stay away from the law since no-one knows he’s working under-cover and on the other hand he has to be careful not to blow said cover as that would mean an immediate death sentence. Kind of a raw deal, huh? Huh? See what I did there?

I remember one of the ad campaigns for this movie which said something like: “The system gave Schwarzenegger a Raw Deal! NOBODY gives Schwarzenegger a Raw Deal!” I loved that! I thought that was really cool and tough-sounding and as it turned out also very fitting.

I said I wanted a club soda!

I said I wanted a club soda!

This is pure and simply a straight-up action-movie that doesn’t pretend to be anything else. It was one of those I had to go to Denmark to watch uncut in the theaters. Yeah, censorship sucked big-time here in Sweden during the 80’s. It IS a very violent movie with lots of gunfights, car-chases and Arnold kicking some serious butt. Come to think of it, it’s actually very reminiscent of action-movies from the 70’s and you all know I like those.

It’s kind of cool to see Arnold in a “toned down” actioner for once. And I don’t mean toned down as in not so much action as in other movies he’s done. Oh, no… au contraire! There’s plenty of action in Raw Deal. What I mean is that he’s done a lot of flicks that could be considered to be a bit over the top. The Terminator, Total Recall, Predator or End of Days for instance, are certainly all large movies, if you know what I mean, so maybe “toned down” are not really the right choice of words here.

“Smaller” might be a better one. There are no fancy gimmicks here, only brawns and a crap-ton of guns. The only thing over the top in Raw Deal is Arnold himself, because he looks MASSIVE in this one! You just know that if you get hit with one of those arms… it friggin’ HURTS!

See, I told you that glass wasn't people proof!

See, I told you that glass wasn’t people proof!

I also like the soundtrack in this! Both the score itself and the various songs featured on it. The scene where Kaminsky pops a Rolling Stones-cassette into the car stereo and blasts “(I can’t get no) Satisfaction” loudly as he drives around a quarry shooting bad guys, is awesome. And yes boys and girls… I said cassette, not CD! This is, after all, the mid 80’s remember?

Before I leave you, I’ll just mention two more actors you might recognize. The first one is Joe Regalbuto (The Sword and the Sorcerer) who plays Marvin Baxter, the prosecutor responsible for Kaminsky getting fired. He’s actually a bastard, and a whiny one at that. The other actor has almost 200 credits to his name and that name belongs to the fantastic Ed Lauter (Youngblood). He plays a cop, Baker, hot on Patrovita’s and Kaminsky’s trail.

You know all those great, but cheesy one-liners Arnold has in almost all his movies, right? Well, Raw Deal is no exception. In one early scene he comes home to find his wife, drunk out of her skull, baking a cake. It ends in an argument and her throwing the cake at him. He just calmly looks at her and says: “You should not drink and bake!”

So, my friends, until next time… remember those wise words and please tell us what you think of Raw Deal.

Peter Nielsen Bio

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About Peter Nielsen

Peter was born in Denmark in 1968, but moved to Sweden at the age of six, (not by himself of course), and has lived there ever since. He’s married and has five children, so spare time is somewhat of a luxury. His main interests in life, apart from his family, are long walks, books and movies. Any movie! He has preferences, but he’s not particular as long as it's good or... so bad it's good... he just LOVES MOVIES!

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