Raw Deal (1986)

rawdeal_1Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kathryn Harrold, Darren McGavin, Sam Wanamaker, Paul Shenar, Steven Hill, Joe Regalbuto, Robert Davi, Ed Lauter, Mordecai Lawner

Directed by John Irvin

Expectations: Moderate. I saw this a couple of times as a kid but I don’t remember much about it, which probably isn’t a good sign.

Overall:
twohalfstar

Only in terms of action:
threehalfstar


When a movie opens with machine guns, power boats, witness protection and synth rock grooves, my only answer is a broad smile. Raw Deal is not an Arnold film that gets much love these days, but it’s definitely a worthwhile entry in his filmography. While it is a minor film alongside the others that Arnold made around it (The Terminator, Commando and Predator), taken on its own Raw Deal more than delivers its share of great Arnold moments and excellent ’80s action.

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Mark Kaminsky, an ex-FBI agent currently serving as the sheriff of a small town. His wife is furious about being stuck in the country for the last five years, so when Arnold’s former colleague at the bureau offers him an undercover mission infiltrating the Chicago mob, Arnold jumps at the chance so that he might be able to make his wife happy again. Or just to get away from her. Little details like this are not the strong suit of ’80s action films. Anyway… cue the montage of Arnold slicking back his hair, and before we can say “Great Terwilligers!” we’re on our way with Schwarzenegger to break up a backroom gambling joint and drive a tow truck through its walls.

Continue reading Raw Deal (1986) →

Mini-Review: Next of Kin (1989)

Next of Kin (1989)

Starring Patrick Swayze, Liam Neeson, Adam Baldwin, Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Ben Stiller, Andreas Katsulas, Michael J. Pollard, Ted Levine, Del Close

Directed by John Irvin

Expectations: Low, but the star power here is worth a shot.


Patrick Swayze plays a tough Chicago cop who hails originally from the backwoods that has to step up to the challenge when the mob murders his brother! His justice isn’t swift enough for his other brother (Liam Neeson), who comes down from the mountain on a hunt for vengeance. Sounds good, right?

Unfortunately, it’s just OK. Next of Kin has definite flashes of greatness, such as the train rooftop sequence, but more often than not, the film is characterized by mediocre dialogue and a boring plot. It’s also much too long for its own good. The sheer amount of future star talent should not be overlooked though, and Next of Kin will forever remain of interest to film fans for this. Liam Neeson is especially good as Swayze’s brother. While it may be a footnote to his illustrious career, it is another great performance from the always dependable Neeson.

In yesterday’s look at Winter’s Bone, I noted that the characters in it were realistic and didn’t exhibit the traditional stereotyped hillbilly personas. Next of Kin fares surprisingly well in this regard as well, with the country folk never feeling stupid or the butt of cheap jokes. There’s definitely a similar air of “You don’t fuck with country folk,” reinforced by the scene where members of Swayze’s family all band together and take down the mafia men with crossbows in a shadowy graveyard.

Next of Kin isn’t great by any stretch of the imagination, but it is pretty fun in spots and worth watching to see so many young actors packed into one movie. Also, I’m glad Ben Stiller lost that unibrow.

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