1980′s Action Movies

Raw Deal

RAW DEAL

1986

De Laurentiis Entertainment Group

Directed by John Irvin

Produced by Martha Schmacher

Screenplay by Gary DeVore and Norman Wexler

Story by Luciano Vincenzoni and Sergio Donati

For a change I’ll get right to the point and tell you guys exactly why I like RAW DEAL so much. For a considerable amount of screen time, Arnold Schwarzenegger is going around wearing tailored Armani suits with slicked back hair, trading insults with badguy Robert Davi while smoking foot-long Cuban cigars and playing baccarat while flirting with Kathryn Harrold in hidden underground Detroit gambling casinos. To the point where I honestly think he looked on this movie as an audition for him to play James Bond.  RAW DEAL isn’t a movie mentioned when Schwarzenegger movies are discussed and that’s a shame because RAW DEAL is a lot of fun. He isn’t required to be a one-man army until near the end of the movie unlike a lot of his movies where he’s shooting up folks from start to finish. I think RAW DEAL gets forgotten because the next year he would star in “Predator” and that was when his movie career would really take off.

Mark Kaminsky (Arnold Schwarzenegger) was once one of the FBI’s best agents. But he beat a suspect who molested and murdered a girl, nearly to death and federal prosecutor Marvin Baxter (Joe Regalbuto) forced him to resign. The only job Kaminsky could get was as the sheriff of a small town. His wife (Blanche Baker) is an unhappy alcoholic who cannot adjust to small town life and Kaminsky has no idea how to fix his marriage.

An opportunity presents itself when FBI Chief Harry Shannon (Darren McGavin) contacts Kaminsky. Shannon’s son was killed while protecting an informant who was going to testify against mobster Luigi Patrovita (Sam Wanamaker.) Shannon wants Kaminsky to join him on a secret mission of revenge. If Kaminsky will infiltrate Patrovita’s organization and destroy it from within, Shannon will get Kaminsky’s old job back. Shannon informs Kaminsky that there is a serious leak that has been getting their previous agents sent to infiltrate Patrovita’s mob killed so the only person who will know about Kaminsky is Shannon.

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Kaminsky fakes his death and shows up in Chicago as Joe Brenner, disgraced Miami hood looking for a new home. After meeting with Patrovita’s right hand man Rocca (Paul Shenar) and Rocca’s right hand man Max Keller (Robert Davi) Kaminsky/Brenner goes full blown Yojimbo, working on the inside to turn the various members of Patrovita’s gang against other as well as stirring up trouble with Patrovita’s chief rival Martin Lamanski (Steven Hill) In the meantime he’s also busy trying to figure out exactly where gambler Monique (Kathryn Harrold) fits in all this and who’s side she’s on.

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There’s a couple of points in RAW DEAL that for me kick it up a notch above most of Schwarzenegger’s bloodbaths. I like how he gets to wear cool suits and act all smooth. He carries it off a lot better than you would think. He’s no Roger Moore but he’s no slouch either. He knows what fork to use to eat his shrimp and how to play baccarat and that puts him two points up on me.

I liked the scene where Shannon is trying to talk Kaminsky into the job. He makes it very clear this is an unsanctioned mission of pure personal revenge that he himself is financing with his life savings. In an unexpected bit of business, Kaminsky says to Shannon that his son knew that by being an FBI agent his life was at risk every day and he accepted that. Shannon should accept it as well and just move on. It isn’t until Shannon mentions that he can get Kaminsky’s job back that Kaminsky agrees to take the job. I always appreciate it when the writers of a movie acknowledge that sometimes a hero does things because there’s something in it for him as well. It’s a good piece of motivation that didn’t have to be there but I’m glad it is.

I also liked the scene where Kaminsky meets with Shannon to tell him that he’s seriously considering going off the reservation and embracing Joe Brenner’s life for real. Again, it’s a scene that didn’t have to be there but it’s a scene that shows that the writers didn’t want this to just be another shoot ‘em up and at least wanted to give some depth to the Kaminsky character and not have him be the typical Schwarzenegger One Man Army.

I hadn’t seen this movie in ages but I think it holds up pretty well and a large part of that is due to the supporting cast, all of them seasoned pros who know how to play this material and do their jobs. The quasi-romance between Kaminsky and Monique is handled with just the right touch as Kaminsky still loves his wife but is plainly attracted to this woman who is also strongly attracted to him.

And yes, we do get Schwarzenegger as the unstoppable killing machine at the end where he takes on the entire Patrovita mob in an orgy of gunfire and non-stop violence. But the movie gives us a satisfying emotional ending as well between Kaminsky and Shannon.

So should you see RAW DEAL? Without a doubt. No, It’s no “Commando” or “Total Recall” but I think it’s an awfully damn good movie for Schwarzenegger to attempt at that stage of his acting career. If you’re an Arnold Schwarzenegger fan, you’ve probably seen RAW DEAL already. But if you haven’t, do so. I guarantee you’ll see a side of him you never saw before. And thanks to the magic of YouTube you can watch the entire movie right below. Enjoy.

106 minutes

Rated R

Action Jackson

1988

Silver Pictures/Lorimar Film Entertainment

Directed by Craig R. Baxley

Produced by Joel Silver

Written by Robert Reneau

Whenever action movies of the 1980’s are discussed by movie fans, plenty of titles leap out right away: “Die Hard” “48 Hours” “Beverly Hills Cop” “Rambo” “Commando” “The Last Dragon” “Road House” “Tango & Cash” “Lethal Weapon” “Lone Wolf McQuade” “Predator” and at least two dozen more. Hell, even “Megaforce” and “Treasure of The Three Crowns” will get mentioned just for shits n’ giggles if nothing else. But nobody ever seems to remember ACTION JACKSON.  Which is a downright shame as the movie features Carl Weathers in a starring role for a change and for my money he showed he had what it takes to stand alongside Stallone, Schwartzenegger, Willis, Seagal and Norris as an Action Movie Hero.

Sgt. Jericho “Action” Jackson (Carl Weathers) of the Detroit Police Department has been riding a desk for two years since his demotion from Lieutenant.  In his pursuit of a hideously deviant sexual predator he nearly killed the man, almost ripping his arm off. This particular hideously deviant sexual predator happened to be the son of Peter Dellaplane (Craig T. Nelson) who has some bad wiring himself but hides it better. Being Detroit’s most powerful businessman enabled Dellaplane to get Jackson demoted.

But Dellaplane gets back on Action Jackson’s radar due to the horrific deaths of a number of influential officials of the city’s auto workers union. Dellaplane’s trophy wife Patrice (Sharon Stone) gets a whiff that something’s not right with her husband and confides in Jackson which gets her right dead right quick. Dellaplane frames Jackson for the murder. On the run from both his own friends and fellow cops, Jackson has to depend on the help of his network of street people and Sydney Ash (Vanity) Dellaplane’s singer/heroin-addict mistress  to clear his name and bring Dellaplane down before he assassinates the president of The Auto Worker Alliance. He’s also being hunted by The Invisible Men, Dellaplane’s cadre of ninja-like killers. It’s a lot to do in only 96 minutes but they don’t call him Action Jackson for nothin’

When this movie opened back in 1988 it was enough of a hit that there was talk of two, three and even four sequels to this picture. And considering the amount of time the movie takes to set up the large number of supporting characters in this one, it certainly feels like this was intended to be the first movie of a series.  During the course of the movie, Action Jackson picks up some interesting sidekicks such as Kid Sable (Chino ‘Fats’ Williams) an ex-boxer who now runs a fleabag hotel. Dee The Hairdresser (Armelia McQueen) who is a library of illegal information which she dispenses almost entirely in words starting with the letter ‘D’.  Mr. Edd (Prince A. Hughes) Sydney’s man-mountain of a bodyguard who speaks like a scholar and deplores using violence even though he’s very good at doing so. And Albert Smith (Stan Foster) a purse snatcher who faints dead away upon meeting Action Jackson for the first time, so fearsome is his reputation. And Action Jackson himself isn’t just a rogue cop running around blowing stuff up. He’s also famous as a local boy who made good as a celebrated athlete running track in high school and going on to graduate from Harvard.

Craig T. Nelson does a very good job of villainy in this one. One of the reasons I like ACTION JACKSON is that he’s not put up against some drug kingpin, terrorists or gang bangers. No, Dellaplane’s scheme is to gain control of the powerful auto unions (and back in the 80’s they were pretty powerful) and use their political clout to muscle who he wants into key government offices to benefit his business interests. His Dellaplane makes a very good adversary for Jackson as both men are evenly matched in intelligence, physical abilities and their need to win. It’s even pointed out to Jackson that Dellaplane actually is a lot like him.

Sharon Stone is surprisingly good as Dellaplane’s wife. She’s never much interested me as an actress but I found myself actually liking her a lot in this one. Vanity is just as gorgeous and as charming in this movie as she is in “The Last Dragon” and she has a nice chemistry with Carl Weathers. Sure, they go through the usual male/female bickering that I’m used to in Action Movies but if it’s done well, I don’t mind.

The direction by Craig R. Baxley is tight due to his having worked as a stunt coordinator and second-unit director on movies such as “The Warriors” “The Long Riders” and “Predator” as well as TV’s “The A-Team.” So he knows how to direct action and fight scenes that are sharp, energetic and full of power.

What else? There’s a lot of faces from 80’s movies and TV you’ll recognize here that turn in solid supporting performances such as Bill Duke, Robert Davi, Bob Minor, Branscombe Richard, Ed O’Ross, Thomas F. Wilson (Biff Tannen from “Back To The Future”), Miguel A. Nunez, Jr. and Sonny Landham who along with Carl Weathers and Bill Duke was in “Predator”

And above all, ACTION JACKSON never loses sight of its purpose: it’s an Action Movie. It’s not designed to illuminate the human condition or cast an eye on the state of the world or contemplate existential middle-class angst. It’s supposed to deliver 96 minutes worth of shootings, impalings, stabbings, immolations, explosions, fights, out-of-control car chases, snappy one-liners, sexy women, bad guys and good guys beating up on each other and do it in the most entertaining manner possible.  ACTION JACKSON gets my highest recommendation.

96 minutes

Rated R