“A former FBI agent turned small-town sheriff agrees to help the FBI chief infiltrate the Chicago mafia when the FBI chief’s son is killed by them.”

Director: John Irvin
Writers: Luciano Vincenzoni, Sergio Donati, Gary DeVore
Staring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kathryn Harrold, Sam Wanamaker, Robert Davi, Ed Lauter, Paul Shenar
Release Date: June 6, 1986

Raw Deal (1986) is the rough draft of what could be a fun, and suitable Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie. Also this review is a rough draft; this is a a stream of consciousness. We are just word vomiting out here.

Mark Kaminski (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a dutiful sheriff in a small town but he was once a man with grander responsibilities. Mark was a FBI agent before he was discharged for disputed reasons, and in the time since he and his wife Amy (Blanche Baker) have become frustrated with their situations and relationship.

The exposition is established, and now the plot must begin. Harry Shannon (Darren McGavin) meets up with Mark and unofficially hires him for a justice mission. Harry’s son was in the FBI until he was gunned down by the the mob in the middle of a gang war. There are rival factions of various Italian relationships and now Mark must find his way into the world in order to weed out and exact poetically just revenge.

Mark stages his death with a giant oil factory explosion, doesn’t tell his wife he is leaving, and then embarks on an espionage mission. He garners ire from Max Keller (Robert Davi), the heavy muscle of the drug runners. Max has a thing for Monique (Kathryn Harrold), and he asks her to spy on Mark. Turns out that Monique and Mark like each other, and they get a tad bit frisky. Their relationship ends up being a huge part of Raw Deal‘s finale.

In the end, Mark has to battle his way through bad guys all in the name of resurrecting his career and avenging the life of Harry’s son. There are guns, very dated outfits, cheesy one-liners and unbelievable romantic connections. Raw Deal is ridiculous,

Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mark and Kathryn Harrold as Monique

The director of Raw Deal is John Irvin. He has directed about 30 films in his career, and this Arnold piece is arguably his second most well known behind Hamburger Hill (1987), which came right after Raw Deal came out in the summer of 1986. I am not going to harp on the directing of the movie because who is really looking at that in an Arnold action adventure? I will ask a question though that is really bugging me.

What is up for the soundtrack of this movie?

I am no idea what vibe it is going for. Most of Raw Deal has an electronic synth vibe, but come the finale it is The Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction that is playing while Arnold is fulling off his 1980s joust example. The fluctuation of the mood and tone of Raw Deal is accented by its changing song choices. Also, during the construction yard destruction, Kaminsky puts The Crusaders’ Street Life in the cassette player, but Satisfaction begins playing. Just a strange continuity error.

There are a fuck ton, and I mean fuck ton of white Italian white characters in Raw Deal. Diversity was not a priority at this time, and I will be the first to say that I got confused with all the Italian names being thrown back and forth between the two competing mob bosses. In a movie like Raw Deal, the plot is often secondary, but it is still nice to know the relative arc that a story is going to take. The set up of the stakes fits perfectly into what one would expect. A man formerly of the FBI looking to get back in the game takes a job from a friend with a hookup in order to avenge his lost son who was killed as part of a mob disagreement. Basic premise. Just keep it basic all the way through. Raw Deal tries to jump through too many hoops for as simple as a movie this shoot have been.

The last 20 minutes of Raw Deal is raw violence. After the disappointing confrontation at the cemetery where the best character of the movie Max Keller (Robert Davis) is dispatched without much pomp or circumstance, Mark goes off on a rampage killing seemingly every mob member in the greater Chicago area. It is a guns a blazing finale that sees Mark wreak havoc in a rural construction yard, followed by a urban high rise loft shootout. Everyone who was meant to be taken care of is dispatched with bloody efficiency. You never believe that Mark is in any danger, but such is the nature of the majority of Arnold’s movies. He is the indestructible human.

Come the end of the movie, Mark is back with the FBI and he is back with his wife. Turns out he is going to have a kid, and he needs the help of Harry (Darren McGavin) to do it. This list add-on of a scene wraps Raw Deal full circle, reminding Harry of the love for his lost son as Mark is going to experience it for the first time. A touching moment, that really is not necessary at all.

I’ll ask the question. Why should Mark’s wife (Amy is her name) stay with him? At the start of the movie she is distraught, angry, and frustrated with the sacrifices she has made for his career. She tosses a cake in his direction. They are not happy together. THEN, just when they are at their most unhappiest, Mark leaves his wife, pretends to be dead, and takes an undercover mission within the mob of Chicago during which he catches some sorta feelings for Monique.

In what world is that okay? In what world is this believable? I don’t even think this relationship works in the fake movie world. Now they want to introduce a child into the world? And did Mark and his wife move to Chicago? Sure Amy must be happy to be out of the suburbs, but are you telling me that is safe?

Seems like Amy is getting the Raw Deal of this relationship with Mark.

Read here, Raw Deal is an action, crime, shoot-em-up that never reaches passable marks. It is perhaps the perfect Saturday afternoon, basic cable, channel 11 broadcasted, edited time filler that a nine-year-old could be drawn into. If you are going to watch Raw Deal, do not try too hard to understand the mob underworld and its leaders. It is not worth the struggle. Grin and bear the middle 70% of the movie and save yourself for the ending where your ear drums will be bombarded.

For those who do want to check out Raw Deal, it is streaming on Amazon Prime.


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