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Revisiting ‘Raw Deal’: How Arnold Schwarzenegger Became a 1980s Action Icon

In the 1980s, Arnold Schwarzenegger emerged as one of the biggest action stars in Hollywood, thanks to a string of successful films that showcased his incredible physique, charismatic presence, and larger-than-life personality. One of the key films that helped solidify his status as an action icon was “Raw Deal,” a hard-hitting action thriller released in 1986.

Directed by John Irvin, “Raw Deal” was Schwarzenegger’s third collaboration with legendary producer Dino De Laurentiis, following the success of “Conan the Barbarian” and “Conan the Destroyer.” In the film, Schwarzenegger plays Mark Kaminsky, a former FBI agent who is forced into early retirement after a botched operation. When his old friend and mob boss Harry Shannon (played by Darren McGavin) offers him a chance at redemption by taking down a rival crime syndicate, Kaminsky seizes the opportunity to settle the score and clear his name.

With its gritty storyline, explosive action sequences, and Schwarzenegger’s trademark one-liners, “Raw Deal” was a box office success and further established the actor as a bankable star in the action genre. Despite receiving mixed reviews from critics, the film’s fast-paced plot and Schwarzenegger’s magnetic performance resonated with audiences, solidifying his reputation as a bona fide action hero.

In this article, we will take a closer look at Schwarzenegger’s journey to becoming a 1980s action icon, the making of “Raw Deal,” and why the film remains a fan favorite among his extensive body of work.

**Arnold Schwarzenegger: From Bodybuilder to Action Star**

Before he became a household name in Hollywood, Arnold Schwarzenegger was already a well-known figure in the world of bodybuilding. Born in Austria in 1947, he began weightlifting as a teenager and quickly rose through the ranks of the sport, winning multiple Mr. Universe titles and eventually becoming the reigning champion of Mr. Olympia, bodybuilding’s most prestigious competition.

Schwarzenegger’s towering physique and charisma caught the eye of filmmakers, leading to his breakout role as the titular character in “Conan the Barbarian” in 1982. The film was a critical and commercial success, establishing Schwarzenegger as a leading man in the action genre. He followed up with the sequel, “Conan the Destroyer,” in 1984, further solidifying his star power and paving the way for his subsequent collaborations with top directors and producers.

By the mid-1980s, Schwarzenegger was a sought-after actor in Hollywood, known for his action-packed roles, witty one-liners, and larger-than-life on-screen presence. With films like “Commando,” “The Terminator,” and “Predator,” he became synonymous with the action genre and solidified his status as one of the biggest stars of the decade.

**The Making of “Raw Deal”**

“Raw Deal” was a departure from Schwarzenegger’s previous roles, showcasing a darker and more complex character than his earlier action heroes. In the film, Kaminsky is a disgraced FBI agent with a troubled past, seeking redemption by taking on the criminal underworld in a desperate bid to clear his name.

Directed by John Irvin, “Raw Deal” was shot on location in Chicago, lending authenticity to the film’s gritty atmosphere and high-stakes action sequences. Schwarzenegger trained extensively for the role, undergoing rigorous physical conditioning to ensure he was in top form for the demanding stunt work and fight scenes.

The film also boasted a talented supporting cast, including Kathryn Harrold as Kaminsky’s love interest, Monique, and Sam Wanamaker as mob boss Luigi Patrovita, whose conflict with Kaminsky drives much of the film’s tension and drama.

**Why “Raw Deal” Remains a Fan Favorite**

While “Raw Deal” may not be as well-known as some of Schwarzenegger’s other films, it holds a special place in the hearts of fans of 1980s action cinema. The film’s high-octane action sequences, memorable one-liners, and Schwarzenegger’s magnetic performance as Kaminsky continue to captivate audiences decades after its release.

One of the standout aspects of “Raw Deal” is Schwarzenegger’s portrayal of Kaminsky as a flawed and complex protagonist. Unlike his more straightforward action heroes, Kaminsky is a man haunted by his past mistakes and driven by a sense of justice that transcends simple vengeance. Schwarzenegger brings depth and nuance to the character, elevating the film beyond mere action spectacle and into the realm of character-driven drama.

In addition to Schwarzenegger’s performance, “Raw Deal” benefits from John Irvin’s taut direction, which keeps the pacing brisk and the tension high throughout the film’s 106-minute runtime. The action sequences are expertly choreographed, with Schwarzenegger’s physicality on full display as he dispatches foes with skill and precision.

The film’s memorable dialogue, courtesy of screenwriters Luciano Vincenzoni and Sergio Donati, also adds to its enduring appeal. Schwarzenegger’s quips and one-liners have become iconic in the action genre, and “Raw Deal” is no exception, with lines like “You should not drink and bake” and “You should not drink and drive” becoming instant classics among fans.

Overall, “Raw Deal” stands as a testament to Schwarzenegger’s versatility as an actor and his ability to command the screen in any genre. With its blend of action, drama, and humor, the film remains a fan favorite and a key part of Schwarzenegger’s illustrious filmography.


“Raw Deal” may not be as well-known as some of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s other action films, but it is a prime example of his prowess as an actor and action hero. The film’s gripping storyline, explosive action sequences, and Schwarzenegger’s magnetic performance as the troubled FBI agent Mark Kaminsky all contribute to its enduring appeal among fans of 1980s action cinema.

Despite receiving mixed reviews upon its release, “Raw Deal” has since become a cult classic and a must-see for Schwarzenegger fans looking to revisit the actor’s early career. With its gritty atmosphere, memorable one-liners, and thrilling set pieces, the film showcases Schwarzenegger at the height of his action star powers and solidifies his status as an icon of the genre.

As we look back on Schwarzenegger’s career and the impact he has had on the world of action cinema, it is clear that “Raw Deal” plays an important role in his trajectory to becoming one of the biggest stars of the 1980s. With its mix of action, drama, and humor, the film remains a standout entry in his filmography and a testament to his enduring appeal as an actor and entertainer.


1. Is “Raw Deal” based on a true story?
No, “Raw Deal” is a work of fiction and not based on a true story. The film’s storyline follows the character of Mark Kaminsky, a disgraced FBI agent seeking redemption by taking on the criminal underworld.

2. Who directed “Raw Deal”?
“Raw Deal” was directed by John Irvin, a British filmmaker known for his work in both film and television. Irvin brought a gritty and realistic style to the film, elevating its tension and drama.

3. Did “Raw Deal” perform well at the box office?
While “Raw Deal” was not a massive box office success, it performed respectably and solidified Arnold Schwarzenegger’s status as a bankable action star. The film has since become a cult classic among fans of 1980s action cinema.

4. What are some of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s other iconic action films?
In addition to “Raw Deal,” Arnold Schwarzenegger is known for his roles in films like “The Terminator,” “Predator,” “Commando,” and “True Lies.” These films helped establish him as a dominant force in the action genre and cemented his status as a Hollywood legend.

5. Is “Raw Deal” available to watch on streaming platforms?
“Raw Deal” is available to stream on various platforms, including Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, and Google Play. Fans of Arnold Schwarzenegger and 1980s action cinema can enjoy the film’s high-octane thrills and Schwarzenegger’s magnetic performance from the comfort of their own homes.

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