Raw Justice (1994)
Release Date: August 24th, 1994 MPAA Rating: R
Director: David A. Prior Actors: David Keith, Robert Hays, Pamela Anderson, Leo Rossi, Charles Napier, Stacy Keach, Javi Mulero, Ted Prior, April Bogenschutz, Jeanette Kontomitras
hree minutes into the movie, uber-macho, loose-cannon, broad-chinned, mother-loving, ex-cop, current bounty hunter Mace (David Keith), with wild hair flopping around like devil horns, is cross-dressing in a prostitute’s leather boots and bright red top in order to nab a bail jumper. The film never gets more serious than that. The hooker is Sarah (Pamela Anderson), who finds herself running in the street sans clothing and proving her few bits of dialogue are a great challenge.
Later, when she happens upon Mace again and demands her clothes back, she yells all of her lines. It’s a good thing her talents are in the physical department. The following scene introduces insecure Mitch McCullum (Robert Hays) dropping off his wholly unsatisfied mini-golf date, Donna (April Bogenschutz), at her house where she promptly takes a nice, hot, uninhibited, exploitive shower. When she’s murdered (after her bath, of course), Mitch is fingered as the primary suspect. Donna was the daughter of Mayor David Stiles (Charles Napier), who refuses to let an autopsy be performed on the body and instead immediately hires Mace to keep an eye on Mitch.
Stiles is convinced Mitch is the murderer and wants him dead – so it’ll be up to the burly bounty hunter watchdog to discover the truth. Mitch is being set up, as is Mace when an associated bondsman is murdered (“I’m gonna say this once. I didn’t do it.”), all while a political blackmail plot is in the works. The unlikely duo is also stuck with Sarah as a third wheel when she’s forced to tag along after the real killers eye her. Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor Bob Jenkins (played by the the only semi-accomplished actor in the film, Stacy Keach, though he badly overacts here), a soft-spoken, glasses-wearing, intimidating figure who is perpetually surrounded by ominous music, is supposed to be someone Mace can trust. But his intentions are clearly dubious, since he commands crooked police Lieutenant Atkins (Leo Rossi) to have mercenaries kill anyone in his way.
Pamela Anderson isn’t really the star, but she gets top billing. At first glance, it’s perhaps the only way to market the film. The dialogue is incredibly cheesy and full of the worst kind of sarcasm; what makes everything acceptable is Keith’s hammy acting, especially with the constant delivery of saucy comebacks. It’s so bad it’s hilarious. None of the cast takes this movie seriously, as they’re clearly aware of the ridiculous nature of the direction and tone. The music, like a laugh track, adds to this theory; inopportune moments employ invasive trumpet riffs, action sequences are paired with goofy rock, and every scene with Mace sounds off with a few seconds of “Bad to the Bone.”
“Raw Justice” also features a motorcycle chase through a mall, gunfights outside of strip clubs, car chases through busy streets that end in strategically placed ramps and parked vehicles loaded with explosives, spontaneous sex in back alleyways (as characters hide from assassins), Pamela Anderson’s undressed silhouette, a fanboat chase through the bayou (complete with rubber crocodiles, as the movie is set in New Orleans), and a mystifying finale that involves Mace being in two locations at the same time. There are also a few sex scenes for good measure. As far as medium-budget, B-grade, guilty pleasure, comically excessive action films of the ‘90s are concerned, “Raw Justice” (aka “Good Cop Bad Cop,” “Skip-Tracer,” and “Strip Girl”), is one of the best.
– Mike Massie