30 Years of Raw Deal

Today we celebrate 30 years of Arnold getting a Raw Deal. 

Sandwiched between Commando (1985) and Predator (1987) in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s film career is the bizarrely miscast starring role in Raw Deal, which celebrates its 30th anniversary on June 6th. Arnold plays Mark Kaminsky, a former F.B.I. agent that was forced to resign and now serves as the sheriff in a small town. The end result is kicking Arnold kicking some major ass along the way to the background tunes of some classic 1980’s style action music.

I'm so tired of all this violence. Can't I just make a comedy for once?
Someone call Danny Devito!

All of this has the makings to be a great action movie and for the most part it delivers. It has nice camerawork and it is finely directed by John Irvin, who had also made Dogs of War and Hamburger Hill. The cinematography was done by Alexander Thomson, who had previously worked under director Nicholas Roeg and served as cinematographer on Excalibur, Eureka, Year of the Dragon, and Legend before shooting Raw Deal. The location settings inside and outside of Chicago are superb. The editing is slick and well paced by Anne Coates, who had been nominated for an Academy Award for Editing five times for Lawrence of Arabia, Becket, The Elephant Man, In the Line of Fire, and Out of Sight. The supporting cast is excellent with McGavin as an F.B.I. agent and Sam Wanamaker, Paul Shenar, and Robert Davi as the main bad guys. The action is intense and fast paced, featuring a great car chase in Chicago and along Lake Michigan, several fight scenes, the highly memorable gravel pit battle sequence, a high body count, and an epic apartment gun fight finale.

This leather jacket
is getting hot
but it's so damn sexy. 
So with all of those positives what could have possibly knocked this one down? Unfortunately, it was the miscasting of Schwarzenegger in this role. He is not believable as someone that would’ve been able to infiltrate the Italian mafia. There is simply no way that they would have let this monster with a still heavy Austrian accent rumble in and become a major player in their organization. He agreed to star in this one in order to get out of a multi-picture contract that he then had with Dino De Laurentiis. At the same time, De Laurentiis was hoping to get some quick cash out of this film in order to make Total Recall starring Patrick Swayze. 

Ironically this one failed, which led to the studios bankruptcy and the rights to Total Recall being sold to another company. It would eventually be released in 1990 starring Schwarzenegger. This picture though would have been better off with someone like Swayze or a Steven Seagal, who wasn’t quite in the industry yet. It just needed someone who would’ve been more authentic in the role of a mafia thug.

If you can get past the terrible miscasting, Raw Deal is a fun 1980’s action flick with plenty of one liners and a large body count. 

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-Raul Vantassle