Wednesday, October 24, 2012

You should not drink and bake

Raw Deal (1986)
Nope, hadn't seen this one before.  Must have been in that black hole of time just before I was watching R-rated movies in the theater on my own and was catching everything on cable.  This one's a bit of a puzzler.  Other than the last 15 minutes, it's quite remarkably dull for an Arnold movie.  Possibly *the* most dull, and it's particularly odd coming right after Commando, as it's almost an anti-Commando from a tension and action standpoint. 

I think the real issue here is that it's just another cop movie, and there really aren't opportunities for Arnold to let his inner Arnold frolic and run free.  Granted, he's not exactly turning in a great performance, but I can hardly blame him with as tame a script as he was given.  This movie is notable in that you don't have Arnold in a fantasy or sci-fi setting, full-on action/adventure, or playing up his size/physique/origins, and that's really what causes the movie to suffer.  The little bits of Arnold beating people up and blowing shit up are too spread out and the stuff in between is just so... normal.  Arnold's been accused of a great many things, but being normal is certainly not one of them.  Commando is such an interesting contrast to Raw Deal.  He's playing very down-to-earth guys in each, but Commando lets him go over the top while also giving him those moments of sweetness and comedy that he excels at.  Coming immediately off that, you would expect more of the same, or at least expect them to adapt the screenplay to work to Arnold's strengths, but instead we have a vanilla cop movie with a big action sequence tacked onto the end.  Where are the snappy one-liners?  Where is the fish-out-of-water fun? The bits that make you sympathetic to him because he does such a good job of showing just how hard acting really is?

There are still some great moments to be had...  The mad, drunken wife hurling dinner (a cake with "shit" written in icing on it) at him is fun and gives some of that important "what is life like behind the scenes" stuff that would later play so well in True Lies.  The last 15 minutes are a blast because we throw all pretense away and let Arnold do a completely unrealistic assault on the mobster's base of operations and then headquarters, probably taking out 40+ guys in the process.  He shoots and smashes out his car windshield in order to make room to shoot through while driving pell-mell around a quarry.  It's of course completely silly that someone can take someone out at 100+ yards with an automatic weapon while shooting through the windshield of a bouncing car, but it's Arnold!  That's what he does!  It's not about realism, it's the spectacle that's the important thing.

That also brings up another important point from these early movies: They really can't double Arnold.  We don't have modern CGI, Arnold's still too huge to believably double, and he's still young enough to be willing to take the risks.  As such, when you see that figure running in front of the explosion, jumping out of a car, riding a horse at speed, or driving around while shooting automatic weapons, you know it's him and that really adds something to the coolness factor.  In both Commando and Raw Deal, there are some excellent shots of Arnold driving/acting and it's not the usual Hollywood trick of going slow or being towed behind a camera truck.  He's actually driving at a pretty good speed while doing crazy Arnold shit and the scenes are all the better for it.  Give me more of that and much, much less "normal" stuff.

Thankfully Predator (!!) is up next, and there isn't one thing "normal" about that sucker....

Ahnold Quotient - 4
I'd probably give it a 2 if not for the final assault scene.  He's big, but only in size, not in persona.  Arnold's way too confined playing a stereotypical wise guy and, without some other angle or hook in the story or setup, it could be anyone in this role.

Rewatchability - No way
Pretty sure I'd rather watch Red Sonja again first.

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