Raw Deal is a 1986 American action film directed by John Irvin, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kathryn Harrold, Darren McGavin and Sam Wanamaker.


Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.

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 (Darren McGavin), who vows revenge.

After capturing a man posing as a motorcycle cop, small-town sheriff Mark Kaminsky (Arnold Schwarzenegger) goes home to his alcoholic wife Amy (Blanche Baker), who resents what their lives have been reduced to and in a drunken fit, throws a cake at him.

Kaminsky once worked for the FBI, but five years ago he brutally beat a suspect who "molested, murdered, and mutilated" a young girl. He was given the option to "resign or be prosecuted" by ambitious prosecutor Marvin Baxter (Joe Regalbuto), who is now Special Federal Prosecutor heading up a committee investigating the dealings of Luigi Patrovita (Sam Wanamaker), the strongest of the Chicago Outfit Dons.

Shannon calls Kaminsky in with an unsanctioned and possibly illegal assignment: to infiltrate Patrovita's organization and "tear it up". Harry cannot do anything officially, and the FBI has a leak who has been getting agents killed, which is why Kaminsky must go in secret. Harry dangles the prospect of Kaminsky being reinstated with the FBI, leading to Kaminsky 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 (Paul Shenar), and convinces them of his worth by harassing Martin Lamanski (Steven Hill), 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 (Kathryn Harrold), who works for Rocca's top lieutenant Max Keller (Robert Davi).

Kaminsky 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 Kaminsky'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. Kaminsky accompanies Keller to a cemetery for a hit job, but discovers that the target is Harry Shannon, which causes him to blow his cover. Kaminsky and Shannon manage to kill Keller and another hit man, but Shannon is severely wounded in the exchange.

Kaminsky 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 (to the tune of "Satisfaction" by the Rolling Stones) 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 Kaminsky 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."

Kaminsky starts to walk off and when Baxter attempts to shoot him, Kaminsky turns and shoots Baxter dead in self-defense. After driving to the airport, Kaminsky 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 Kaminsky visiting Shannon, who was crippled as a result of the gunshot wound to his back and has been refusing any therapy or rehabilitation. Kaminsky has been reinstated into the FBI and his reunion with Amy has now led to her being pregnant.

Kaminsky 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 Kaminsky to leave him be, but then Kaminsky 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 Kaminsky, Shannon makes a strong effort and eventually manages to walk a few feet on his own, embraced by a smiling Kaminsky.


  • Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mark Kaminski / Joseph P. Brenner
  • Kathryn Harrold as Monique
  • Darren McGavin as FBI Special Agent Harry Shannon
  • Sam Wanamaker as Luigi Patrovita
  • Paul Shenar as Paulo Rocca
  • Steven Hill as Martin Lamanski
  • Joe Regalbuto as Marvin Baxter
  • Robert Davi as Max Keller
  • Blanche Baker as Amy Kaminsky
  • Steve Holt as FBI Special Agent Blair Shannon
  • Sven-Ole Thorsen as Patrovita's Bearded Bodyguard
  • Ed Lauter as Baker
  • Robey as Lamanski's Girl
  • Victor Argo as Dangerous Man
  • George P. Wilbur as Killer #1
  • Denver Mattson as Killer #2
  • John Malloy as Trager
  • Lorenzo Clemons as Washington 2nd Sergeant
  • Dick Durock as Dingo
  • Frank Ferrara as Spike
  • Thomas Rosales, Jr. as Jesus
  • Jack Hallett as Carson
  • Leon Rippy as Man in Tux
  • Doug Billings as Guy Standing at Poker Table
  • Norman Maxwell as Fake State Trooper
  • Tony DiBenedetto as Rudy


The film was originally produced so that Dino De Laurentiis could put some quick cash into his long gestating project Total Recall, a film that Laurentiis had owned the rights for and one that Schwarzenegger would later take the leading role.

Partly due to the poor box office performance of the movie, 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, he agreed to star in "Raw Deal."

Initially, Schwarzenegger was more interested in doing "Total Recall," but De Laurentiis objected because he didn't feel that Schwarzenegger was right for the leading role and Patrick Swayze was cast before De Laurentiis' bankruptcy.

The filming was done on location in Chicago, Castle Hayne, North Carolina and Wilmington, North Carolina at the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group Studios. The filming began on October 19, 1985.

The original title was intended to be called "Let's Make a Deal." During the filming and production, it was changed to "Triple Identity" and finally, it was called "Raw Deal" in order to make the movie sound more like a regular action film.

In an interview promoting the film, Arnold Schwarzenegger said this was the first film where he got to wear an elaborate & modern wardrobe. Before this, he said that his wardrobe budget for a film was about "ten dollars".


Box OfficeEdit

"Raw Deal" debuted at #2 at the box office, grossing $15,946,969 during its opening weekend, coming in behind "Top Gun". In Germany, the film made $2,183,216.

Domestically, it made $16,209,459.

Critical ReceptionEdit

The movie received a mixed reception from critics.

On Rotten Tomatoes, it was given an 25% rating based on 12 reviews and given an audience score of 29%.

The Los Angeles Times' Sheila Benson said, "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".

Roger Ebert gave the film a rating of two in a half stars, saying the movie 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".

Theatrical TrailerEdit

Raw Deal Trailer

Raw Deal Trailer

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