COMPILED BY ERIX ANTOINE
It was only a matter of time…
The B Action Movie Thread has been a gargantuan mainstay of this site for several years. So, in our continued efforts to dominate the internet in every conceivable way, here is a weekly column. A digest, if you will. Dig in and we’ll see you in the thread!
THIS WEEK ON THE B ACTION MOVIE THREAD (Last Week’s Installment )
The brightest stars, the biggest hits…Mike Flynn here giving you nothing but the best from the B Action Movie Thread this week!
We’ve been going at a brisk pace this week, starting at page 1453 and wrapping up at page 1458.
First up: an errand run led me to a very awesome store that I recommend Jersey-area Chewers check out: Funk & Standard in Red Bank, NJ. Among other things, they’ve got this bad boy for 25 cents a game—something any thread or column regular should appreciate:
Myself on the machine: I was doing some work for my sister-in-law, running to a few stores for her, and one of the places I had to go return something at was a store called Funk and Standard in Red Bank, NJ (right across from Kevin Smith’s comic book store) that has a juice bar and a ton of crazy novelty items, like used books and used LP’s and cassette tapes for sale (they had more than one copy of Eddie Murphy’s LP with “Party All the Time” on it for sale!!!!), and there’s also a few functioning (original!) arcade cabinets for Ms. Pac Man, Galaga, and (I think) Donkey Kong, and it just happens that the Lethal Weapon 3 pinball machine is there, only 25 cents a game! I immediately snapped a photo to get on my Facebook, and here it is for all of you to marvel at.
This was one of my favorite pinball machines EVER, as was Data East’s Star Wars table from the early 90’s. Pretty sure it utilized elements from all three movies at the time as well, proudly trumpeting that it had STEREO SOUND with MIDI renditions of ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man” and C+C Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat” (sorry Perfect, “Everybody Dance Now” is not the correct title of that song), neither of which, by the way, are in the third film. If only there was also a Lethal Weapon 2 machine that you could choose “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” or “Cheer Down” to play during your game.
Originally a Facebook post, The Perfect Weapon broke the news on the thread:
Speaking of zero memory, I think I need to watch Lethal Weapon 3 for the first time in years sometime soon. You see, a thread regular on their Facebook page posted a picture of the pinball machine based on the movie, which they must have found recently. I decided to watch a video online of someone playing the game, for shits and giggles. Well…
Some more comments from regulars on the original Facebook post:
Rene: Damn straight! I wish I could travel back to Fresno, CA just to play the pinball machine of Last Action Hero that they had at the airport. Also of course to hit up the stores for sweet deals on used movies.
Tyler: I hope people yell “Go spit!” at this machine when they lose. I also hope it plays midified Eric Clapton.
Felix has news from Sheldon Lettich that Van Damme will NOT be returning to the MMA realm: At least, not this year.
The Perfect Weapon also had this AMAZING YouTube find of Aldo Ray, Broderick Crawford, and Jack Palance hawking Canada Dry ginger ale in 1977. The latter, mind you, is dressed as a Genghis Khan/Fu Manchu-esque Asian warlord:
Riding on last week’s nostalgia overdrive sparked by Moltisanti’s Photon memories, Jox breaks news that the long-forgotten 1987-88 live-action kids’ sci-fi/action show Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future (a property that was hyped to the heavens back in the day) is coming to DVD next year for its 25th (!!) anniversary.
Erix starts to sort through a popular franchise he never had interest in…until now!
I have finally embarked on my odyssey through the Fast & Furious franchise in preparation to see Fast 5ive. Or, as it’s called in Spanish, RAPIDOS Y FURIOSOS 5IN CONTROL.
What can I say?
The first one struck me as the usual Rob Cohen slice of vanilla pizza.
Better than most of his garbage, because Vin Diesel has an engaging movie star presence and Jordana Brewster is hot as fuck. But I am less impressed by Paul Walker’s odd Keanu Reeves pastiche of a performance and, were it not for Running Scared, I would still think he’s a fuckwit. Ted Levine is wasted in a kind of lame supporting role too.
However… 2 Fast 2 Furious is another story. Maybe because it’s not hampered by the constraints of being a Point Break ripoff, it just really works and feels like a cool take on the hot rod movies of the 50s. Refreshing. I was pretty thrilled. It’s so much better than the first I almost couldn’t believe it. Full of energy and fun… John Singleton comes to the table with a nice vibe, shooting the shit out of it as if it were a rap video. Tyrese is great and he has good chemistry with Walker (he actually makes Walker better which is the job of every co-star). Just really fun all the way through. With James Remar being a great asshole chief and Cole Hauser an enjoyably slimy bad guy. I can see now how this is clearly a series that gets better as it goes along. I’ll also go right ahead and say it…. It might be John Singleton’s best movie.
As for Fast and Furious:
As an action film, it is definitely superior to the first one. But the storyline is kind of a dreary bore and, although it’s nice to have Vin Diesel back, the movie doesn’t really let you have any fun.
Nothing really leaps out at you after the opening chase scene and the energy and vitality of the second installment are also absent. Overall, it has its moments but it’s nothing particularly special. I do like the way Justin Lin directs action sequences. It’s crisp. So, I can imagine that Fast 5ive must bring the goods based on the evidence shown here.
So, now that I’m all caught up, I will be going to see it later in the week. I expect to enjoy myself. All I’ve heard is praise left and right.
…and Friday night, he saw it:
Go ahead and invite me aboard the Fast Five love train guys.
I just got back from seeing it and I almost can’t remember the last time I had such pure fun in a movie theater. I was laughing, cheering and clapping like an imbecile through about 80% of the running time. It is so note perfect awesome every step of the way.
I am astounded that the fifth entry in a mediocre series can be so terrific. And it’s more than just The Rock stealing the show. He’s great and I want to see more of that character. But the whole cast is on point and you can see them having a great time making the movie. It’s infectious.
I would like to also point out that I was moved almost to tears by the passionate love story that is at the heart of the film.
I am referring to the very erotic fireworks on display between Vin Diesel and The Rock. The sweat trickling down Dwayne Johnson’s face as he stares Diesel down at that car lot… And of course their very passionate lovemaking at the garage was powerfully moving.
To say nothing of THE HANDSHAKE. As anyone who saw the movie will immediately know what I am referring to.
But anyway, it’s an amazing movie. The climactic car chase is one of the best things the genre has offered in years. This Justin Lin kid has the goods. Give him the next Die Hard. He deserves it.
Felix with news on the next chapter of two-hour films based off of Steven Seagal’s aborted TV series attempt:
“After DEADLY CROSSING sends director Keoni Waxman (“A Dangerous Game”) action legend Steven Seagal (“Machete”) again as an undercover agent Elijah Kane on a deadly mission: With its elite team, he is an ice-cold serial killer on the trail the assaults on the strippers in the city. The rising body count, suspects and mysterious black magic can the investigations themselves are a nightmare. When the corpse of a police officer is found, another detective is called in to catch the killer.”
Fat Elvis keeps the obscure cheese brigade coming:
Watched a weird 80’s movie DEFCON 4 last night. It is preposterous and super cheesy, but also wacky enough to be charming. It’s a movie that feels like it was written by a bunch of 12 yr old kids at a sleepover, and that’s kind of fun. Plot: a nuclear war finally happens, and a US defense satellite with its three astronauts have a front row seat to the end of the world. 6 months later the ship’s computer sends them crashing back to Earth, where they find a world of flesh-eating mutants, survivalist gun nuts, and a ragtag para-military dictatorship under the cult of personality control of a high school bullying brat. It’s now a Mad Max world, and the only escape for the protagonist survivors is a sail boat to Nova Scotia.
Elvis also pointed out the awesome blog Temple of Schlock to us, who reported that “this week in 1986, a movie theatre on 42nd street was showing a double bill of BAND OF THE HAND / THE LAST DRAGON!
A debate on Renny Harlin’s 90’s swag and possibility of being a “hippie” emerges, which leads to this observation from Shreds:
Renny Harlin isn’t a hippy. He’s a full blooded Viking warrior! How else do you explain the icicle to the eye in Die Hard 2? That shit was genetically encoded into his memory as a last defense mechanism in harsh circumstances. Just like the impaling by stalagtite from Cliffhanger. If it wasn’t for Renny’s long flowing locks those films would have been 50% less awesomely violent. Renny Harlin’s hair I salute you!
Upon further research, I realized that Harlin’s shorter hair in the past decade mirrors his output’s decline. And I discovered this picture from the Deep Blue Sea premiere:
Gabe T attends an awesome film festival:
I just got back from one of the greatest movie experiences ever, EX-FEST. Exhumed Films put it together, a seven film marathon of extremely hard-to-find exploitation films, some of which were never released in America, none of which were disclosed to the public before the screening. They had-
Western-spoitation – CUT-THROATS NINE. A MUCHO MACHO Spanish western about a chain gang who escape from a train crash to search for gold, despite all of them being murderous bastards. Apparently this is being remade by the guy who founded Rue Morgue, with Harvey Keitel and Mads Mikkleson.
Crimespoitation – NO WAY OUT. Alain Delon stars as a hitman (fuckyeah) who wants out, only to find that his bosses won’t let him retire that easily, offing his wife and kid in cold blood. DELON WANTS REVENGE. Standard plot, but some super gory deaths (he hangs one guy out a moving train and lets him smash into oncoming traffic until he’s in multiple pieces), amazing car chases and badass Delon make this a MUST-SEE. Why is this obscure?
TRAVOLTA-sploitation – THE FACE WITH TWO LEFT FEET. Some Italian kids circa 1980 find out their best friend is a dead ringer for John Travolta, and they teach him how to disco dance so he can impersonate Travolta and win the heart of a Swedish girl. The comedy is above-average Disney Channel-pilot-quality, but, um… the guy REALLY looked like Travolta. Amusing how they tried to get around never using any Saturday Night Fever footage and composed soundalikes to the entire soundtrack.
BLAXPLOITATION – SAVAGE! A black mercenary tasked with taking out rebels in the Phillipines joins the resistance and fights the government. Yes, Filipino blaxploitation. Lots of action and explosions, lots of bitching afros.
HICKSPLOITATION – REDNECK MILLER. Redneck Miller is just a local good ole’ boy with a country music radio show who is besides himself when a black drug dealer (Rudy Ray Moore… actually just a guy that looked and acted a LOT like him) steals his wheels! Car chases, romancing and country music! Surprisingly funny and tightly directed.
KUNG FUsploi- fuck it, KUNG FU – FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH. Shaw brothers action. Not my favorite of their’s. Last year, Exhumed Films screened Five Elements Ninja, and it’s pretty fucking hard to top that.
SEXPLOITATION – THE OTHER CINDERELLA. Boobs! Bushes! Music! A softcore musical about a Cinderella with a snappy vagina. Felt weird watching this in an audience of chubby fanboys.
Also, they showed vintage trailers for so much awesome stuff, including scads of Lee Marvin and Jack Palance movies, and other classics in the represented genres. Exhumed Films does the BEST screenings, but this might be their finest hour.
The Travoltasploitation got Rene’s attention immediately.
Gabe T also reported on the ridiculous sounding The Big Bang. Don’t believe me?
-William Fichtner, Delroy Lindo and Thomas Kretschmann are the highly overqualified people tasked with listening to Antonio Banderas (never worse) telling this convoluted story about how this missing woman ended up being a pawn in a plot to end the world, as well as secure $30 million in diamonds.
-Jimmi Simpson in too-convincing drag.
-Snoop Dogg as porn director “Puss” who penetrates a girl on camera and says, “Lights, camera, action… motherfucker.” He and Bill Duke are only in one scene each. GYP.
-Sam Elliot spends the entire movie looking like Edgar Winter.
-Some terrible direct-to-DVD dialogue:
“You’re such an asshole. You’re like the world’s second biggest asshole.”
“Why wouldn’t I be the first?”
Because you’re an asshole.
Also, this gem: “When do you get off?” “Oh, about fourteen minutes after my clothes come off.”
-Mere minutes after one character described the big bang effect as being quicker than a thousandth of a second, another character manages to OUTDRIVE said effect.
BlabedAboutMars with another hilarious bystander, this time from Rapid Fire:
Duke Fleed loves Thor:
By ODIN’s Beard, I Whilist Give…THOR, 5 Lightening Strikes out of 5, for the…GODly performance of Chris Hemsworth as…THOR! I have heard the valiant Warriors Three and Lady Sif, were left out of alot of the film. I Say Thee…NAY! They are of course included in the…Epic action of the opening and closing battles. Mayhap, next time THOR, will not be stripped of his power, his armor, and His Hammer…Mjolnir! The only things that ODIN, should strip are…Jane Foster’s Clothes, and Kat Dennings of future appearances in Marvel Films. THOR, has travelled the…Rainbow Bridge Bifrost, above all others and now resides atop the mountain of…Superhero Cinema! Verily, this performance as THOR’s Lady, Jane Foster be… Natalie Portman’s greatest role! The music is Fantastic. THOR is simply…All Kinds Of Awesome, and of course, to me…The Best Film Of 2011!
Walker takes in a hilarious TV movie:
American Tragedy has Ron Silver, Ving Rhames, Bruno Kirby, and Christopher Plummer playing OJ’s legal dream team. The most interesting, and maybe foolhardy thing, is that OJ is never shown on screen completely. He’s either on speakerphone, or you just see a shot from the back of his head. It’s an interesting way to address the elephant in the roo; which is by putting the elephant in ANOTHER room. The speaker phone moments of OJ were bizarre. It’s hard to explain, but the voice chosen to be OJ is just real loud and phony. Like his baritone voice was computer generated. However, the voice is entertaining in a “lol whut” kinda way. For instance, the words
“BOB KARDASHIAN IS MY BEST FRIEND”
had me rolling in laughter.
I also loved that the Juice tried to motivate his legal team by using football analogys. The best is when Simpson tries to placate Bob Shapiro’s ego by saying he’s still the quarterback just before kinda demoting him.
Other than that, the acting was top notch. Silver played Robert Shapiro as a wimpering baby, Kirby was very no-nonsense as Barry Scheck, Plummer brought class as F Lee Bailey, but it’s Rhames’ Johnny Cochran that was the most interesting. He’s the only lawyer on the team that voices out loud that OJ is guilty, and is geninuely afraid of the man. This leads to what is probably the best/worst line in the whole production: “I could have sworn he looked at me like I had blonde hair.”
Best scene in the movie is during the jury selection because the process into a real life version of Dave Chappelle’s “Race Draft” skit.
On the meta factor: it was strange hearing Ron Silver say “Get me Alan Dershowitz on the phone”.
The teleplay was written by literary icon Norman Mailer.
For you Mark Harmon fans:
HE’S BACK! ARNOLDWATCH ’11
We’re all sad over the possibility of the stupid Cry Macho, but we haven’t dropped the man altogether yet. In specific, Rene sparks a discussion taking in a basic cable favorite in typical crazy Rene fashion:
Watching Eraser right now. Some say it’s Arnold’s last great movie. I say otherwise, as I really like End Of Days, The 6th Day, and Terminator 3. The 6th Day in particular is a terribly underrated later Arnold film. For a PG-13 film it’s pretty violent (not The Green Hornet violent. That’s an R-rated movie masquerading as PG-13 fare) and Michael Rooker is a great villain.
Crazy Jim: I’d say True Lies was his last great one. Eraser and End Of Days are fun but not quite enough to recapture the vintage pre-T2 Arnold feel.
We were also rocked by the terrible news that Arnold and Maria Shriver have separated, leading to plenty of “I’ll be back” and “Consider this a divorce” cracks, plus these choice quotes:
Moltisanti: Now that they’re kaput I feel like I can finally say that I never understood what Arnold saw in that bag of bones. If he really wanted to plow a Kennedy he should have made a play for Carolyne. Carolyne Kennedy is straight up bangin’. Booty for days!
Fat Elvis: Mel finally has a wingman!
Bluelouboyle: Maria was ok back in the day. But over the last 10 years she has come to resemble Skeletor. Maybe Arnold will hook up with his one true love, Valeria! She’s not bad for her age.
Wadew1: Could this be the start of a GIBSON-LIKE fall from grace for Arnie??
I hope so! Angry taped phone conversations will be hilarious with Arnold’s accent.
Hans Gruber’s EYE CONDITION! (in a long-awaited return post): Arnold’s divorce…. I am crying for this bold, buff, beautiful and brave bodybuilder… a brave samurai warrior to endure a harpy such as Maria. He is welcome to stay at my place… my bed has room for two… ohhh..
Speaking of which, we also had some new word on that Conan the Barbarian reboot. With a new poster and a new trailer, the thread has spoken:
Felix: The new Conan poster that came out yesterday looks pretty badass. More in the spirit of the Howard books it was based on.
Rene: If anything, we can guarantee that Stephen Lang will be busting his nut in over the top acting. He won’t really be busting his nut of course, because as much as we’d all like to see that, it would make the movie x-rated and then it would certainly flop in theaters. It would provide for a 3D surprise though!
And remember this? Here you go again:
THE EXPENDABLES 2 NEWS!!!!
The Cannes Film Festival began this week, and who gives a fuck about the artsy stuff when this gets announced?
Jox provided us with a plot synopsis that got promptly denied by Sly later this week. There’s spoilers in that one:
The Expendables are back and this time it’s personal! After Tool (Mickey Rourke), the heart and soul of the Expendables, is brutally murdered on a mission, his comrades swear to avenge him. They’re not the only ones who want blood. Tool’s beautiful young and wild daughter Fiona embarks on her own revenge mission, complicating matters when she is captured and ransomed by a ruthless dictator plotting to destroy a resistance movement. Now Barney and the Expendables must risk everything to save her and humanity.
…after its denial, this is all we know:
PEOPLE GET BLOWN UP.
Erix on the matter:
That Expendables 2 synopsis is indeed shocking. But I’m more shocked that it sounds like it doesn’t involve Arnold in any capacity nor does it seem to have Mr. Church as the main villain.
So, frankly, I’m a little worried.
The casting of Fiona is kind of key. I hope they get a real badass chick to play her and not some Megan Fox bullshit.
Of course, if they have to go with someone “cute” I vote for Rachel Nichols. She has the looks and she showed (in GI Joe and on Alias) that she can do action. It would be interesting to see her take on a darker role.
Still… That synopsis doesn’t really have me jumping up and down.
Shreds: Whatever the plot is, I just hope the exependables [sic] don’t sit around moping how sad life is all the time. I rewatched it last week and the biggest problem I have with the film is that these guys aren’t that fun to hang out with. It’s like Sly wanted to make two films. One fun eighties throwback with all our favourite action guys and one about how life as a mercenary takes it’s toll on you. Smashing them together just isn’t a good idea. The only guy who seemed to have any fun there was Terry Crews and he was barely in it.
For the next one, I hope Crews and Statham team up as partners. They’re a good match. One is huge, the other knows martial arts. One’s a knife expert, the other loves ridiculous guns. Crews is hilarious and Statham can be really funny when reacting to larger than life persona’s (See Snatch).
Then team up Sly with Dolph, Sly knowing he’s the only one close enough to him to keep Gunnars crazy behaviour in check. Instead of killing Rourke off, let Randy Couture die on a mission in the first act. He can’t act and it would create a no one is safe feeling. Jet Li can be the one who decides not to go then shows up as a surprise in the third act, in keeping with his want more money persona. I also think it’s kinda vital that not all of them survive the final showdown. Up the stakes and give us a sense of danger.
Plus, Moltisanti alerts us that you can buy this limited to 500 pieces Barney Ross figure for the low price of $149.95:
S.D. Bob Plissken suggested the titles for the sequels as well: The Expendables II: Church’s Revenge and The Expendables III: TRENCH WARFARE.
The Perfect Weapon finally saw a DTV gem:
I…watched Undisputed III. Truth be told, I preferred the second movie overall. Sure, there’s also great action here (and actor Marko Zaror may become another well-known B-level martial arts movie star if he gets more work outside of his native Chile) but the problem is, I didn’t really care for the story here. Some dumb/aggravating things happen, and then there’s the character of Turbo, who reached about a Jar Jar Binks-level of annoyance with me, and of course he turns out to have one of the biggest parts in the film. Figures. I wish I could rave about this like everyone else, but meh.
An exclusive look at Mickey Rourke as a fat Tim Burton opposite Jeffrey Dean Morgan in The Courier:
Amidst all this, some big shakeup is at Millennium Films, and there’s also talk the Conan movie costs $100 million, and us boob lovers at the thread are anxiously awaiting if Rachel Nichols will get her top off for this. Wadew1 has no hope:
From the director of
the writer of
CROW WICKED PRAYER
and a supporting actor on SyFy’s
CONAN THU BURRRRRRBARIANNNNNNNN
No one really seems to be interested in this movie.
How about some dubious Van Damme posters from Ghana?
Fat Elvis ordered a VHS of Frankenheimer’s The Challenge. Good investment.
We also got a brief albeit welcome cameo from Judas Booth this week, who’s wishing us our good will.
THE MIND OF RENE F. RANGEL
Leviathan is the be all end all underwater movie for me. Nothing will ever replace it.
I wish I could have long flowing blond hair and a svelte body instead of being a stocky, dark haired, thinning from the back of the head film fan. Ah, what the hell, I’m all good with it. I like the thinning from the back. Makes me feel distinguished.
Rented Sniper: Reloaded and Buried from the Redbox. Buried was pretty damn good, and if you haven’t seen it, you should check it out. Reynolds is the only person you see in the movie, and the entire movie takes place in the box that he’s in. …. It’s definitely worth the dollar.
Amber Heard is a lesbian? DUUUUUUWWWWHHHHHAAAATTTT?????
I liked Bicentennial Man. I guess I just got a kick out of RoboWilliams finding his humanity, and eventually becoming human. I never wanted to see it, but the joy of Netflix is seeing movies that are essentially free.
MIKE’S NOTE: Last week, I proclaimed Lock Up Stallone’s worst film, which sparked much debate in the thread. However, this week, I viewed Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot and realized that I was completely wrong, and I really just hate Lock Up a lot. Therefore, I would like to correct that statement. Thank you.
Seriously, Norm MacDonald was right: Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot sucked.
* * * *
A few weeks ago, we asked Nick what movies he would like to see spotlighted in the column. Thankfully, it turns out that the man has very good taste and he actually suggested some terrific movies. So, basically, as a thank you to Nick for giving us this space, over the next few weeks we will be presenting NICK’S PICKS
* * * *
THIS WEEK’S MOVIE
ERIX ENJOYS GETTING A RAW DEAL FROM TIME TO TIME
Here’s one that if you haven’t seen, you should.
Arnold was on a roll at this time in his career. More so than Stallone, one got the impression that there was a new SCHWARZENEGGER opening every week. So, it’s understandable how this one kind of got lost in the shuffle back there in 1986.
I certainly didn’t see it back then. In fact, I don’t think I even heard about it until sometime in the early 90’s.
I’m glad I didn’t see it back in the day, though. Coming after the sugar high of Commando and followed up by the cocaine rush of Predator, I think my little idiot self of the late 80’s would have been disappointed. Because Raw Deal is a very different animal. Because of that difference, though, it really stands apart from Arnold’s filmography and feels very unique.
If Cobra is Stallone’s giallo (and it is), then I think we can say without a doubt that here Arnold has his Poliziotteschi. Produced by Dino De Laurentiis, with a story by Luciano Vincenzoni and Sergio Donati… I mean, I don’t know the facts. But I am willing to bet you my liver and one of my nuts that this script was sitting in a drawer in some office at Cinecittá for many years. It seems like the kind of wonky shit they would have set up, maybe as a vehicle for Bud Spencer. You know? A film by EB Clucher (Enzo Barboni) … Where the bearded wonder brings down the house in “Miami” (actually Milan) and beats up a bunch of bad guys. Whatever.
As it turned out, they dusted it off and gave it to Arnold. But many of those Italian Slapstick Cop Movie elements survived intact.
Consider, for example, that the film opens with Arnold as a small town Sheriff named Mark Kaminsky…
Actually, no. It doesn’t open with that. It opens with this very funny scene where a bunch of badass gangsters (one of whom is Victor Argo – a wonderful character actor that has sadly been dead for several years) bust into an FBI safehouse and kill a bunch of people. Victor Argo, as a matter of fact, gets arguably the best line in the movie right here. They save the protected witness for last. As he is crying something in Italian, they get him to face a mirror and Argo tells him: “You wanna be a witness? Witness this.” before shooting him through the head from behind.
Why did I refer to that awfully violent sequence as “funny”? Because it is.
After this engaging intro, we find Mark Kamisky – small town sheriff – driving his pick-up truck through the woods, as the opening credits play with some very interesting country music.
He’s not just out for a weekend ride. He’s chasing some asshole in a motorcycle who is apparently impersonating a highway cop. I don’t really understand what this scene has to do with the rest of the movie but I don’t care. I think they just needed an interesting opening title sequence and this was the best thing they could come up with. You want to grab your audience’s attention right away. You don’t want them getting up for popcorn or changing the channel. A guy getting shot through the head from behind was not enough. Let’s have Arnold Schwarzenegger in a pick-up truck chase some asshole through the woods.
It is during this scene that something very interesting happens. It’s not the last time it will happen in the movie, and Arnold will continue to do this in different ways throughout his career, but I think it’s the only time he’s done it so blatantly. During this scene, he breaks the fourth wall by turning to glance in the direction of the camera and smiling at the audience.
I don’t think this was an accident. I think Arnold deliberately ad-libbed it and director John Irvin left it like that out of respect for his star. I think it’s Arnold’s way of letting us in. His way of saying: I’m perfectly aware of how absurd this looks.
He does it again a little later when he uses a tow truck to smash a casino to pieces. Before getting into the truck, he opens the door and takes a moment to smile at the audience.
It’s because of things like this that I think I’ve always preferred Arnold’s brand of B Movie cheese to Stallone’s. Stallone is probably the better actor. But it’s Arnold’s strict refusal to take himself seriously that makes his movies so much fun to watch. He is not afraid to be a buffoon and to look ridiculous. Not many action heroes would participate in a scene that requires them to get drunk with Kathryn Harrold and act like a doofus.
And it is because of scenes like this that I hold on to my belief that this was originally intended as an action comedy for Bud Spencer and Terence Hill. The movie is full of shit like that. Not to mention that Arnold eventually uses the alias of Joseph P. Brenner. This is the sort of ridiculous AMERICAN NAME that Italians always give their heroes in the movies. It is that same silly through-the-looking-glass point of view that had actor Giuliano Gemma use the stage name MONTGOMERY WOOD.
There is something else about this movie that has to be said out loud and then written down and etched onto a tree with a Swiss army knife, if possible – THE PLOT IS INCONCEIVABLE.
Here’s what the movie is about…
Mark Kaminsky fell from grace in the FBI. So, as punishment, he demoted to the role of small-town sheriff. Still with me? Okay. About five years later, Victor Argo and a bunch of other gangsters make a guy look at himself in the mirror while they shoot him through the face and they also kill a bunch of feds. One of those feds is the son of Darren McGavin, who happens to be Arnold’s old boss. So McGavin pulls Arnold out of his life as a small-town sheriff so he can infiltrate the mafia.
Sounds like pretty standard undercover cop stuff, right? But here’s the Shyamalan-esque twist. McGavin is doing this off the books solely as a way to get revenge on the crew that killed his son. And, ultimately, there is never any clear point to the infiltration. There is never a sense that they want to get incriminating evidence or set the bad guys up in any way. It’s never made clear exactly what Arnold has to do under the guise of Joseph P. Brenner.
Darren McGavin tells him: I want you to get inside the organization and tear it up.
This can mean a lot of things, I suppose. But the only thing I can think of is: Go in there and kill those fuckers. And this is what Joseph P. Brenner eventually does.
The part that confuses me is – why does he take so long to do it?
He spends the remainder of the movie hanging out with the evil trio of Sam Wanamaker, Paul Shenar and Robert Davi, as well as shopping for clothes with Kathryn Harrold.
Until he gets bored of hanging out with them and goes to their place and kills them.
I’d like someone out there to explain to me why exactly he doesn’t just do that from the very beginning.
The action in the picture is solid and funny. Good violent shootouts. A particular highlight is the rock quarry showdown that is scored to “Satisfaction.” And it’s scored to that because Arnold pops a cassette into his car radio as he drives around shooting at all the bad guys.
And I like how the bad guys all place themselves in conveniently high places so that they can fall after being shot… Just to make it cooler.
A quick word about the bad guys… They’re the lamest rogue’s gallery in Arnold’s ouvre. But the fact that such distinguished B Movie actors play them, makes them a cut above the rest. Davi, in particular, is very slimy and unlikable. He gets into an obnoxious pissing contest with Arnold from the very beginning. So it’s a real pleasure when Arnold gives him a couple of bullet holes for his trouble.
It’s also pleasurable to watch Arnold avenge both Scarface and James Woods in one shot by ridding the world of Paul Shenar.
Finally, this is probably the only action film in existence where the hero dumps a pile of jelly beans on the villain after killing him. I don’t know why he does that. I think it’s just because they’re there.
John Irvin has made other notable films. He even displayed a sense for the prestige picture with the underrated Hamburger Hill.
As an action film, this is obviously not as good as The Dogs Of War. It’s far too silly for that. And the whole movie has an odd flat style to it that makes it look unbelievably cheap.
But none of that really matters because of the way the elements are brought together to create Arnold’s oddest film. Would it have been better with Bud Spencer? Maybe. But I’ll take what I can get.
“Joesph P. Brenner. What’s the P. stand for?” “PUSSY.”
Raw Deal is an interesting curio in Arnold’s filmography. It’s not mentioned all that often, and it came out the year after he did the genius that is Commando. For a very long time, I only watched the last 20 minutes or so of the movie. That last sequence features Arnold using a bunch of guns to kill the bad guys. That’s all I really liked seeing of it, and even when we started talking about it in the B-Action Thread, it was known mostly for those final moments.
Around 2003, I had purchased the dvd, since the only way I could previously see it was on a tape that my parents had recorded of the ABC Sunday Night Movie version of it. I still wasn’t all that crazy about it, but thanks to the thread, I took it out, and lo and behold, I ended up really enjoying it as something different that Arnold had done. I still have yet to see his western The Villain with Kirk Douglas, and before this night is over, I may finally see JUNIOR, which is the last 90’s movie of his that I haven’t seen, and is now on Netflix Instant.
Raw Deal’s opening sequence definitely sets it up as something different, as there’s a standard action chase, but it’s scored to a country song. If you didn’t see that Arnold is in it, you’d think it’s a Smokey And The Bandit film. Either that, or another Burt Reynolds in the South film. Turns out Arnold was with the FBI and had to resign, and is now a Sheriff of a small town, which his wife hates. She gets drunk and bakes, to which he says the line “Don’t drink and bake.”
Darren McGavin asks him to go undercover in the mob (Arnold Brasco?) in order to take down the syndicate that killed his son. McGavin is financing the whole thing out of pocket, because he knows the Bureau won’t fund it, and there’s been a mole leaking information. Arnold busts up some rackets, and gets flown to Cochabamba, Bolivia so he can meet up with Sosa. Wait, that’s Scarface. I mean, he goes to an underground nightclub and meets Paul Shenar and his bulldog, Alberto. Dammit. I mean he meets Paul Shenar and his right hand thug, Robert Davi. They will be his in, so he can bust a few heads to prove himself worthy, and get to the main boss.
Robert Davi spends a lot of the time leery of Arnold. Arnold’s Mark Kaminsky is given the works in terms of secret identity. Not by Rekall, but courtesy of McGavin’s funds. He becomes Joesph P. Brenner, and even has a driver’s license, and a Social Security number. Still, Davi goes after Brenner, by sending Tommy Rosales and another nameless thug to kill him, until Ed Lauter shows up. I swear, Ed Lauter is playing Lt. Shriker from Death Wish 3 in Raw Deal. I want to believe that.
There is also of course Joe Regalbuto who regalbutos himself to the standard role of cowardly betrayer as the mole. I can’t think of any movie I’ve seen him in where he isn’t some spineless coward. He’s like a low rent William Atherton.
Then of course there’s the already mentioned final sequence where Arnold fucks shit up, kills Sven Ole Thorsen again, and kills Robert Davi, Paul Shenar, and the main villain, then POURS CANDY ON HIM. Why does Brenner do this? Fuck if I know. It’s just weird.
Then there’s the ending. THE ENDING. Yeah, before THE ENDING we’re treated to a Casablanca esque scene where I was expecting Arnold to say “HEYA’S LOOKEENG AHT JOU KEED!”
Then we get the actual coda to the film where Brenner, now back to being Kaminsky, helps Darren McGavin learn how to walk again. See, Robert Davi and a thug shot McGavin at a cemetery where his son was buried, because Davi still didn’t trust Brenner, and when he saw it was his friend McGavin, Davi knew Brenner wasn’t a real mobster.
Anyway, we get this sappy moment where Kaminsky talks about him and his wife repairing their marriage, and that she’s pregnant, and he wants McGavin to be the Godfather, and he gets McGavin to walk, since he’s got leg braces, and just refuses to walk at all. Kaminksy meets McGavin half way, and McGavin falls into Kaminksy’s arms, they smile at each other and IT FREEZE FRAMES. I kept expecting a title credit to appear reading “A STEPHEN J. CANNEL PRODUCTION” That entire coda seems like it was just slapped on, and feels like something out of an 80’s tv show. I love 80’s tv shows, don’t get me wrong, but what’s a silly freeze frame like that doing in a movie? It’s just too funny.
Raw Deal is definitely an underrated Arnold Schwarzenegger film. So many of his movies are really well known, but this is one that never seems to get any love, and it should. Arnold was trying out something new, after playing a Barbarian, a Cyborg, and the ultimate soldier. He did really well in the gangster genre, and I would have liked to have seen him tackle the subject again. Maybe now that he’s out of office, he will.
MIKE’S TAKE: FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS BAKE DRUNK
Early on in Raw Deal, after being assigned to take down the Chicago crime syndicate who killed the son of his old FBI boss, Harry Shannon (Darren McGavin), Mark Kaminsky (Schwarzenegger) realizes that, in essence, he is the pawn in an elaborate revenge scheme. In response, Kaminsky asks Shannon, “What do you think I look like, Dirty Harry?”
That retort has an interesting distinction in the grand scheme of the film. In terms of his persona and how he is usually perceived in pop culture, Raw Deal is not a tight fit for Schwarzenegger. While it provides more than an apt and well utilized opportunity for Schwarzenegger to single-handedly claim a body count in the upper double digits, Raw Deal is plotted and intended as a pulpy crime drama that would have been more fitting as a Clint Eastwood vehicle. Up to this point in his career, Schwarzenegger had been better known for being a one-man army, but he had never played an action hero who was not inherently a mercenary. Ostensibly, Kaminsky is a pragmatic thinker who would favor being the procedural aspects of the job slightly more than the waste these motherfuckers!!!! (Samuel L. Jackson, 2000) aspect of the job…
…that is, until the shit gets real, and seriously, unless you’re Michael Mann, adding gravitas to procedural and action in a seamless blend (like Heat) or emphasizing the procedural part using dialogue that you require a Ph.D in criminal justice to understand and directing with all the impact and fury of Jim Jarmusch (Miami Vice), shit always gets real, so fuck realism.
I’ll just dive head first into it: Raw Deal is not exactly Criterion Collection worthy material. The script is an intricate mess that bites on more than it can chew, leading to a healthy array of ludicrous one-liners that sound like an ironic attempt to pay homage to Schrader or Towne. The second act sags and drags like Divine suddenly jumping into the hot tub with Kathy Bates’ character in About Schmidt. John Irvin of The Dogs of War and Next of Kin fame directs, and his eye is clean, efficient, and workmanlike.
Ed Lauter is basically reprising his role as Richard S. Shriker from Death Wish 3. While great in her turn in Modern Romance years earlier, Kathryn Harrold feels out of place as the moll who Kaminsky falls for. Robert Davi and Sam Wanamaker are reliable baddies, and Joe Regalbuto of Murphy Brown fame plays a mob accountant.
That part was especially hilarious to me upon the first time I saw it and realized that “that curly haired dude from Murphy Brown whose name I never remembered” was in it as the chickenshit Marvin Baxter. I must say, he’s quite underused here. There’s definitely an organic comic spirit that he has, and I wish he was able to stretch it more than when Kaminsky corners him about “poetic justice.”
Now that I’ve got my notes of criticism out of the way, when it gets the full opportunity to exploit its resources, Raw Deal is a crooked-cut but brilliantly absurd action film that handles its badassery in the raddest, most extravagant light possible. There isn’t as much class as The Terminator or as much sheer carnage as Commando, but Irvin’s blocking of the action guarantees that no man will die a worthless death, as every gunshot in this film results in a squib with the sort of thick, syrupy stuff that, on impact, explode with all the stain risk and sugary, splattery splendor of pureed raspberries normally used to complement cheesecakes. No doubt, Verhoeven saw this shit before he made RoboCop and couldn’t resist getting the recipe because these look exactly like those sort of blood bombs.
In another scene set at a gay bar called KINKS that would be in no way out of place on a bar crawl for Al Pacino in Cruising, Davi and Schwarzenegger go to intimidate a mobster with illicit desires, and ends up with a symbolic squib—in the form of a bunch of red makeup in his face that looks more like fake blood, showing that this is how he will end up if he fucks with the mob.
Even the attempts at character development go so far over the top that the top ceases as a limitation. We learn that Kaminsky is married to a floozy who dumps chocolate icing all over a cake for some reason as she downs whiskey and blasts classical music. Since the release of Raw Deal, many health classes in high school have used this scene to illustrate the dangers of drinking and baking—except that drunk baking is far less a criminal offense that drunk biking, which itself is not as bad as drunk driving.
I’d also like to address the opening 20 minutes and climax of the film. The opening credits are set over Kaminsky dressed like Alabama Man from that South Park episode where they’re trying to wean the kids off of Chinpokomon, driving a Jeep after an impostor motorcycle cop while this subpar ridiculous Dukes of Hazzard music plays in the background. It’s almost as if Hal Needham stepped in to direct the opening to provide needed levity before the gravity of the rest of the film, and having not seen the film in some time, I found myself uncontrollably laughing at this whole sequence. Oh yeah, and before the half-hour mark comes, Arnold has blown up an oil refinery with a car and a cigar and tore up a shithole illegal casino in Chicago and gleefully smashes up the joint with a tow truck.
And thank you, Raw Deal, for being my unofficial muse in creating the setup of the climax in one of my screenplays (blasting quasi-out of place music while storming a compound).
When I was a kid and an adult, in grade school, high school, and even in fucking college, I got countless raw deals like you wouldn’t believe. Nobody gives me a raw deal…unless it’s Arnold Schwarzenegger and John Irvin. It’s a life-affirming film for anyone who knows what a raw deal is, and nobody deserves a raw deal.