Raw Deal (1986)
Raw Deal (1986)

Genre: Action Running Time: 1 hr. 46 min.

Release Date: June 6th, 1986 MPAA Rating: R

Director: John Irvin Actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kathryn Harrold, Sam Wanamaker, Paul Shenar, Robert Davi, Ed Lauter, Darren McGavin, Blanche Baker, Joe Regalbuto




our heavily-armed gunmen storm the woodland cabin hideout of a key witness, slaughtering the numerous guards and killing the informant. It’s a brilliantly brutal, rather slick opening scene, which transitions very clumsily into a title sequence featuring the main character, small town sheriff Mark Kaminsky (Arnold Schwarzenegger), manning a jeep and in hot pursuit of a motorcycle cop impersonator – to a hopelessly mismatched banjo-heavy song (this is the first of at least three sequences with shockingly incompatible music). At home, his imbibing, blubbering wife Amy (Blanche Baker) laments over their fifth year in exile, relegated to the rural area after Mark was forced into leaving the FBI for manhandling a particularly despicable murderer. Covered in chocolate and tears, she sobs while preparing a mockingly celebratory cake – leading to one of Schwarzenegger’s best lines: “You should not drink and bake.”

When top Bureau man Harry Shannon (Darren McGavin) seeks revenge against Luigi Patrovita (Sam Wanamaker) – the head of the strongest of the Chicago crime syndicates – for playing a role in his son’s death, Mark is recruited to infiltrate the family. Orchestrating his own fake demise, Mark becomes Joseph P. Brenner, a man of some evident use to Patrovita after he splashily disrupts the illegal operations of competitor Martin Lamanski (Steven Hill) and robs the crook’s moll (Robey). After picking up work for top henchman Paulo Rocca (Paul Shenar), Brenner must figure out how to take down not only the dangerous drug kingpin, but also the hierarchy of subordinates and the deadly “problem solver” hitman Max Keller (Robert Davi). Coincidentally, this general storyline resembles “Licence to Kill,” released a few years later, which also starred Davi as the main antagonist.

While most of the supporting players fail to match Schwarzenegger’s larger-than-life persona, which exudes an unworried sense – as if he’s knowingly outside of, and immune to, the severity and implications of the dark world he penetrates – Davi is the one actor who never disappoints in a role of villainy. Just his looks convince of a genuine manifestation of a ruthless thug. Unfortunately, the fitting casting stops there; for some reason, Arnold is paired up with a no-name, ineffectual romantic partner (Kathryn Harrold as Monique), whose part is inexplicably dulled by Mark’s faithfulness to his wife.

The action scenes are frequent and frivolous (including one in which Arnold drives a truck through a building, not unlike a memorable moment from “The Terminator”), though none stand out as highlights of Schwarzenegger’s oeuvre. Baddies are thrown through glass windows, cars are chased through concrete landscapes, and countless gunmen are riddled with bullets, yet only the climax is above average. The pacing isn’t terrible but the scope of adventure, fight choreography, and detonative endeavors are noticeably lacking, considering that “Raw Deal” arrived on the heels of “Commando” and was followed by “Predator,” both superior examples of immense, intense gunplay and explosions. Still, it’s difficult not to be occasionally pleased with the take-no-prisoners brand of justice meted out by the hulking Austrian.

– Mike Massie

  • 5/10