Revisiting the most obscure Arnold Schwarzenegger films of the 80s

Revisiting the most obscure Arnold Schwarzenegger films of the 80s

Raw Deal remains Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most obscure action films of the eighties. But, does it deserve a little more love?

Arnold Schwarzenegger made a whole slew of classic 80s action movies. Still, one remains totally obscure despite being released smack dab in the middle of his amazing The Terminator to Predator run of movies from 1984-87. That film in 1986’s Raw Deal. A formulaic 80s action flick, it’s the most modestly mounted Schwarzenegger action epic of the era, with Arnie coerced into starring in it to complete a long-standing contract he had with producer Dino De Laurentiis following Conan The Barbarian

In it, Schwarzenegger is somewhat unconvincingly cast as a small-town sheriff named Kaminski, who used to be an FBI agent but was forced out of the bureau after roughing up a suspect. He’s recruited by his old mentor (The Night Stalker’s legendary Darren McGavin) whose son was killed by the Chicago mob. He wants Kaminski to go undercover in the mob and tear them apart from the inside. 

Again, Arnie is cast in a role that doesn’t suit him at all. For one thing, it’s hard to swallow him ever being smooth enough to go undercover in the mob. Stallone might have been able to pull it off, but Schwarzenegger? Yet, the film is surprisingly entertaining. It’s well-directed by journeyman director John Irvin (The Dogs of War and Hamburger Hill), and the supporting cast is top-shelf. The warring heads of the Chicago mob are played by the formerly blacklisted Sam Wanamaker and Law & Order’s Steven Hill, while the great Robert Davi plays Arnie’s mob nemesis. Darren McGavin is also terrific as Arnie’s mentor, while Murphy Brown star Joe Regalbuto is solid as a snivelling, crooked lawyer. The sexy Kathryn Harrold, from Albert Brooks’ Modern Romance, is good as Arnie’s quasi-love interest, while the movie, which is curiously short of action for most of its running time, ends with a classic shootout.

Alas, it was a big box office flop when it came out but it became a popular VHS rental. In this video by our resident Arnold Schwarzenegger expert Adam Walton, we dig into this obscure entry into Arnie’s filmography and determine whether it deserves a little more love. 

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