RAW DEAL (1986)

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Raw Deal

RAW DEAL (1986)
Directed by John Irvin
Available on Blu-Ray

After being forced to resign from the FBI many years previously,  small town Sheriff Mark Kominski is hired by Bureau chief detective Harry Shannon to go undercover to bust a mob outfit in Chicago that was responsible for killing his son –  a serving police officer protecting a witness. Assuming the name Joseph P. Brenner, Kominski seeks to embed himself within Luigi Petrovita’s gang in order to take him down and the best way to do that is to target his enemy, Martin Lamanski. His actions catch the attention of Petrovita’s right-hand man Paulo Rocca, but Kominski is going to have to play it smart if he’s to fool Petrovita’s suspicious head-henchman Max Keller as he battles it out to secure a place within the mobster’s ranks.

Action-packed crime thriller RAW DEAL sees Arnold Schwarzenegger take a more measured approach as undercover agent Mark Kominski. With his hair slicked back and donning a smart suit, he becomes Joseph P. Brenner, wooing gangster moll Monique, and playing the mobsters around him like a fiddle. However, the more he tries to worm inside the mafia and rise up the ranks, the more riskier his job will be. if he’s to take down the syndicate, he’s going to have to rely on his quick thinking and natural instincts to not get caught… or at least before going in all-guns blazing.

The idea that a 6ft+ musclebound Austrian like Arnold Schwarzenegger could go undercover and blend in within a mafia organisation in America is laughable in itself, but it’s easy to suspend disbelief in order to enjoy Arnie ruffling feathers and kicking arse in RAW DEAL. Despite his stilted delivery of dialogue at times, Arnie comes into his own during the comedic banter and fight scenes. Even these scenes where he meets other mobster head on are packed with humour, such as at a gambling den where he launches a crook over an RSJ, or when battling a trio inside a women’s outfitters in a shopping mall. It’s all high energy and thrilling to watch on-screen, especially thanks to the restored transfer on Blu-Ray from Studiocanal which really makes the scenes pop!

RAW DEAL teases depth but never gets too involved, unlike other undercover films such as Donnie Brasco, Infernal Affairs or even ID, thus merely scratches the surface of its potential. Even though Mark/Joseph sometimes feels too close to being found out, it never feels risky. Perhaps because Arnie is such a hulk of a man, it’s hard to see him as someone in danger. Couple this with the mafia characters who never truly display menace after the opening scenes involving the obliteration of a witness and officers protecting him, the film often feels like it’s playing at being a gangster film rather than actually being one. Nevertheless, it’s still an entertaining action thriller if only for the charisma of Arnie powering it along, but it’s never going to go down as one of the greats of this genre.

An 80’s pop beat accentuates certain scenes of the film to make you at home with its setting, but never one to truly settle into its stride, RAW DEAL likes to throw a curve ball every now and then, both musically and narratively. Whether it’s driving around a quarry to the sound of Mick Jagger belting out (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction through the car’s stereo, or Arnie going all Commando towards the end of the movie, I can’t say there’s a certain rhythm this movie sticks to. It’s a beast of its own that makes up its own rules and as a result feels slightly off because of it.

Despite its flaws, RAW DEAL brings the entertainment and excitement you’ve come to expect from an Arnie movie, and if you don’t mind switching your brain off then there’s plenty of fun to be had from this action thriller.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆

Without a doubt, Studiocanal’s restoration of RAW DEAL looks amazing. I was a bit disappointed in the lack of substantial extras though – it includes Arnold Schwarzenegger – The Man Who Raised Hollywood: a featurette on Arnold Schwarzenegger that is the same one used on the extras of Red Sonja Blu-Ray; Raw Deal – a Generic Gangster Movie: an 8 minute breakdown of Raw Deal, and an original trailer. However, if you’re looking to simply buy a copy of the movie for your own collection, then you should be pleased by what this 4k restored transfer has to offer.

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About Bat 4394 Articles
I love practical effects, stop-motion animation and gore, but most of all I love a good story! I adore B-movies and exploitation films in many of their guises and also have a soft spot for creature features. I review a wide range of media including movies, TV series, books and videogames. I'm a massive fan of author Hunter S. Thompson and I enjoy various genre of videogames with Kingdom Hearts and Harvest Moon two of my all time favs. Currently playing: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Yakuza Zero and Mafia III.

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