Arnie's Bum Deal
Out of Arnold Schwarzenegger's 80s movies "Raw Deal" is one of his least memorable thanks to it being such an ordinary story. We may have back story, family issues and friendship all leading to a former FBI agent going under cover in a Chicago crime organization but it is little more than a vehicle for action. And along with it being a run of the mill vehicle for action it is also full of run of the mill cliche dialogue and even more cliche characters. It's saving grace is purely the fact that we have Arnie, his muscular frame, dozens of weapons and that accent which makes a cheesy line sound even cheesier which ends up being fun.
Having been forced out of the FBI 5 years earlier due to his heavy handed methods, Mark Kaminsky (Arnold Schwarzenegger - Commando) is now Sheriff of a small town and dealing with marital issues as his wife hits the bottle thanks to small town boredom. But Mark gets an opportunity to be reinstated when his former boss Harry Shannon (Darren McGavin) recruits him for a personal mission, to go undercover inside a Chicago mob and bring it down, especially mob boss Patrovita (Sam Wanamaker - Private Benjamin) who Harry blames for the death of his son.
Whilst I hope it wasn't the case the storyline to "Raw Deal" feels like it's parts of other movies thrown together in such away that it just about fills in the gaps between the action. And as such whilst we get an interesting opening where we witness marital issues between Mark Kaminsky and his wife thanks to 5 years earlier being forced out of the FBI and into a job as sheriff in a small town, what follows is text book. Text book because having faked his own death and taken on an alias in order to go under cover you know at some point Mark's cover will be blown. You also know that the minute he meets Monique there will be chemistry between them and that henchman Max Keller will take a dislike to this new heavy and dig around in his past. To put it simply whilst we get some back story, some reasoning and a few subplots none of it really amounts too much other than being a vehicle for all the action.
And sadly the action itself isn't really that spectacular either with various routine scenes be it getting shot, get beaten up or ending up in a car chase. It lacks both flare and originality and whilst it's sort of amusing when Mark finally tools up with a small arsenal what follows doesn't do all the artillery he is carrying credit. It is another reason why "Raw Deal" feels like a text book movie which tries to entertain purely through the escapism of watching Arnie kicking bad guy butt.
In fact you really have to go along with the escapism as alongside all the action we have a distinct lack of reality. Ignore the fact that all the mob characters are stereotypes and you have the unbelievable idea that beneath a major Chicago hotel is a Mob casino, which goes unnoticed. Throw in such elements such as civilians ignoring when there are fights and you have a movie which may be placed in the real world but certainly doesn't reside in it.
I could go on because there are a lot more issues including some corny dialogue which only works thanks to the amusement of Arnie's strong accent making certain things unintentionally amusing. In fact it is Arnie who is the saving grace when it comes to "Raw Deal" as whilst he doesn't do anything special just his presence makes it entertaining, be it trying to look mob-ish in a suit or when he tools up in a crisp white vest. There are other entertaining performances from the likes of Robert Davi and Ed Lauter but it is purely Arnie which keeps you watching.
What this all boils down to is that "Raw Deal" is a very run of the mill 80s action movie with a weak storyline that is really just a vehicle for plenty of action. Its saving grace is that it is an Arnie movie and whilst it's not Arnie at his best at least he makes some of the worst parts of it entertaining.