Raw Deal (1986 film)
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Theatrical release poster by John Alvin
|Directed by||John Irvin|
|Produced by||Martha Schumacher|
|Edited by||Anne V. Coates|
|Distributed by||De Laurentiis Entertainment Group|
|Box office||$7.3–16.2 million|
Raw Deal is a 1986 American action film directed by John Irvin and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kathryn Harrold, Darren McGavin and Sam Wanamaker. The film was released in North America on June 6, 1986. The film tells the story of an elderly and embittered high-ranking FBI chief, Harry Shannon, who wants to get revenge against a Mafia organization and sends a former FBI agent and now small-town sheriff Mark Kaminski to destroy the organization from the inside.
On December 16, 1985, in a remote wooded cabin, a mob informant is under protection by the FBI. They are ambushed by a hit squad who brutally slaughter the bodyguards and the witness. One of the agents killed is Blair Shannon, son of FBI Agent Harry Shannon, who vows revenge.
After capturing a man posing as a motorcycle cop, small-town sheriff Mark Kaminski goes home to his alcoholic wife Amy, who resents what their lives have been reduced to and in a drunken fit throws a cake at him. Kaminski once worked for the FBI, but five years ago he brutally beat a suspect who sexually assaulted and murdered a young girl. Kaminski was given the option to "resign or be prosecuted" by ambitious prosecutor Marvin Baxter, who is now Special Federal Prosecutor heading up a committee investigating the dealings of Luigi Patrovita, the strongest of the Chicago Outfit Dons.
Shannon calls Kaminski in with an unsanctioned assignment: to infiltrate Patrovita's organization and dismantle it. Harry cannot do anything officially, and the FBI has a leak who has been getting agents killed, which is why Kaminski must go in secret. Harry dangles the prospect of Kaminsky being reinstated with the FBI, leading to Kaminski faking his own death in a chemical plant explosion and posing as convicted felon Joseph P. Brenner. He manages to get an audience with Patrovita's right-hand man Paulo Rocca, and convinces them of his worth by harassing Martin Lamanski, a rival mob boss who is trying to move in on his former boss Patrovita's territory. While at Patrovita's casino, hidden in a basement level of a high class hotel, he makes the acquaintance of Monique, who works for Rocca's top lieutenant Max Keller.
Kaminski continues to work his way into the good graces of the Patrovita family, including devising a plan that recovers $100 million of heroin and cash seized by the feds from one of Patrovita's hideouts and simultaneously assisting in Lamanski's assassination. Keller isn't convinced that 'Brenner' is who he says and manages to find proof of the deception, showing Kaminski's photo to a police informant who previously arrested the real Brenner. The leak the FBI has been looking for is revealed to be Baxter, who is forced to stay close to Patrovita. Kaminski accompanies Keller to a cemetery for a hit job, but discovers that the target is Harry Shannon, which causes him to blow his cover. Kaminski and Shannon manage to kill Keller and another hit man, but Shannon is severely wounded in the exchange.
Kaminski escapes, assisted by Monique (who has grown fond of him). He tells her to go to the airport and wait for him. He then suits up, gathers an arsenal of firearms and raids one of Patrovita's gravel pits, killing everyone and stealing a large amount of drug money. He then sets off for Patrovita's casino, where he embarks on a killing spree, single-handedly wiping out all his soldiers, including the men directly responsible for the murder of Blair and his fellow FBI agents. Rocca and Patrovita retreat to a back room, but Rocca is cut down in a barrage of gunfire. Patrovita flees into an office pleading for his life, but Kaminski mercilessly guns him down. On his way out, he encounters a whimpering Baxter and offers him a gun with the same line Baxter gave him five years earlier: "Resign, or be prosecuted. Any way you want it." Kaminski starts to walk off, and when Baxter attempts to shoot him, Kaminski turns and shoots Baxter dead in self-defense. After driving to the airport, Kaminski hands a duffel bag containing $250,000 in cash to Monique and gets her on a chartered plane, telling her she is free and can start a new life with no obligations to anyone.
The epilogue shows Kaminski visiting Shannon, who was crippled as a result of the gunshot wound to his back and has been refusing any therapy or rehabilitation. Kaminski has been reinstated into the FBI, and his reunion with Amy has now led to her being pregnant. Kaminski wants Shannon to be godfather to the child, but only if Shannon will attempt to walk. Shannon cannot walk easily at first and angrily asks Kaminski to leave him be, but then Kaminski tells Shannon he must show the same strength that made him a good father to Blair. Inspired by the love for his son and his gratitude to Kaminski, Shannon makes a strong effort and eventually manages to walk a few feet on his own, embraced by a smiling Kaminski.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger as Sheriff Mark Kaminski / Joseph P. Brenner
- Kathryn Harrold as Monique
- Darren McGavin as FBI Agent Harry Shannon
- Sam Wanamaker as Luigi Patrovita
- Paul Shenar as Paulo Rocca
- Steven Hill as Martin Lamanski
- Ed Lauter as Detective Baker
- Joe Regalbuto as Marvin Baxter
- Robert Davi as Max Keller
- Blanche Baker as Amy Kaminski
- George P. Wilbur as Killer #1
- Steve Holt as Blair Shannon
The film was originally produced so that Dino De Laurentiis could inject some quick cash into his long gestating project Total Recall, a film for which Laurentiis had owned the rights, and one in which Schwarzenegger would later take the leading role. Partly due to the poor box office performance of Raw Deal, De Laurentiis would eventually file for bankruptcy and the rights to Total Recall were sold to Carolco. At the time, Schwarzenegger was still under contract with De Laurentiis for a number of Conan the Barbarian sequels, and in exchange for dissolving this multi-picture agreement, Schwarzenegger agreed to star in Raw Deal. Initially, Schwarzenegger was more interested in doing Total Recall but De Laurentiis objected as he didn't feel that Schwarzenegger was right for the leading role. Patrick Swayze was cast before De Laurentiis' bankruptcy.[better source needed]
Filming was done on location in Chicago, Castle Hayne, North Carolina and Wilmington, North Carolina at the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group Studios.[better source needed] The film was originally intended to be called "Let's Make a Deal", and during production and filming this was changed to "Triple Identity". This referenced the fact that the lead character goes from being an FBI agent, to a small-town sheriff, and then to an undercover operative. In the end Raw Deal was the chosen title, in an attempt to make the film sound more like a regular action film.
Though the film doubled its production budget at the box office, its earnings were a disappointment.
Roger Ebert gave the film 1.5 stars out of four and wrote, "This plot is so simple (and has been told so many times before), that perhaps the most amazing achievement of 'Raw Deal' is its ability to screw it up. This movie didn't just happen to be a mess; the filmmakers had to work to make it so confusing." Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote that the film "isn't exactly Oscar material. It does nothing for the cause of nonviolence. It will warm the hearts of gun lobbyists everywhere, and its final body count may be even higher than that in Mr. Stallone's 'Cobra.' Yet 'Raw Deal' somehow manages to be measurably less offensive. At times, it's almost funny — intentionally." Todd McCarthy of Variety reported, "Comic book crime meller suffers from an irredeemably awful script, and even director John Irvin's engaging sense of how absurd the proceedings are can't work an alchemist's magic." Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Sheila Benson began, "Has it come to this? That we can feel vaguely cheered that Raw Deal (citywide), where the bodies again pile up like cordwood, is a better made movie than Cobra?" However, she praised Schwarzenegger, saying that his strength as an actor is "not that he can toss grown men over ceiling beams, but that he has a vein of sweetness and self-deprecation that no amount of mayhem can obliterate ... it has shone from him since Pumping Iron, it has allowed him to surmount silly and unwise pieces of action (such as the drunk scenes in one of the Conans and here), and even his own awkwardness as an actor." Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film 1 star out of 4 and noted that it had "essentially the same story" as Cobra, "but it is told with so many superfluous characters that we're never really sure whose side a few key people are on. Needless to say, in a film filled with punch-outs, we very quickly don't care." Paul Attanasio of The Washington Post dismissed the film as "a mostly tedious, cheaply made shoot-em-up" that "recycles the clichés that have long been the cud of television cop dramas." Pauline Kael of The New Yorker called it "reprehensible and enjoyable, the kind of movie that makes you feel brain dead after two minutes—after which point you're ready to laugh at its mixture of trashiness, violence, and startlingly silly crude humor."
Raw Deal was released to DVD by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on June 20, 2003 as a Region 1 widescreen DVD and to Blu-ray on June 28, 2010 by Paramount Home Entertainment as a multi-region widescreen Blu-ray.
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- De Laurentiis PRODUCER'S PICTURE DARKENS: KNOEDELSEDER, WILLIAM K, Jr. Los Angeles Times 30 Aug 1987: 1.
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- Canby, Vincent (June 6, 1986). "Film: Schwarzenegger's 'Raw Deal'". The New York Times. C5.
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- Benson, Sheila (1986-06-06). "Movie Review : A 'Raw Deal' For Audience, Cast And Crew". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-01.
- Siskel, Gene (June 6, 1986). "'Raw Deal': The title says a lot about confusing plot". Chicago Tribune. Section 7, page K.
- Attanasio, Paul (June 7, 1986). "'Raw Deal' Arnold as Rambuffo". The Washington Post. D5.
- Kael, Pauline (June 30, 1986). "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker. 51.
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