Raw Nerve (1999) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski) and Tuna

Scoop's notes in white

Zach Galligan plays a law professor who used to be a cop. The story begins with a flashback to his police days when he panicked on a difficult and violent assignment, causing the death of a fellow officer. His own partner, Mario Van Peebles, saved Galligan's life, shot a couple of baddies with Galligan's gun, and generally covered up everything well enough so that Galligan actually got a medal for bravery. Van Peebles was a true friend, asking nothing in return but that Galligan stop being a cop, because he obviously didn't have the Right Stuff.

Flash forward 10 years to the present.

Van Peebles has moved up the ranks steadily, having demonstrated a gift for the physicality of police work. Unfortunately, although he is basically a good cop, he has a rich girlfriend to impress (Nicollette Sheridan), and has allowed himself to get involved in a small-time money laundering operation to make a little extra cash.

One Friday, the Internal Affairs guys show up at his cubicle and invite him to an interview Monday morning. That gives Mario exactly one weekend to try to get himself out of trouble.

He needs some help from a genius, so he goes to visit his former partner and asks him what to do.


Nicollette Sheridan does a love scene with Mario Van Peebles early in the movie, in which her breasts and buttocks are seen clearly, in good light.

Near the end of the film, Monica Trombetta is seen topless in her own scene with Van Peebles.

Curiously, both scenes are performed before a mirror, although Trombetta's mirror is one of those distorting types.

For a brief flash, Trombetta is also seen topless as a corpse in a bathtub.

The professor is hopelessly sucked in. He owes his life and his career to his ex-partner, so he has to help him, but how far should he go? That is the essence of the dramatic conflict.

They connive to to burn the records which implicate Mario. They set up a false burglary of the "small-time" racket, all the while expecting to find about $20,000 lying around. What makes the plot a little more interesting is the fact that Van Peebles has been duped by the Latin American drug lords into thinking the laundering operation was far smaller than it really is. His false burglary uncovers millions of dollars. He suddenly has a fortune in his possession, and a bunch of angry big-time drug lords on his tail.

Galligan finds himself in way over his head.

Van Peebles was a brave and reckless guy to begin with, but he is also dying of cancer, which turns him into an ultra-desperate guy who doesn't care what happens to him, and is willing to go through any physical danger because life doesn't have the normal meaning for him. It is also obvious that Mario has some other mental problems as well, and that the disease has affected his brain. This makes him braver and more reckless than ever, and causes him to build up an astronomical body count to cover up his relatively minor crime.

Poor ol' Galligan doesn't belong in Mario's crazy world. The situations that Van Peebles drags his friend into would be stressful for any normal guy even if he was a tough-ass cop, but poor Galligan is not only a non-violent professor, but also a coward. He not only ends up doing illegal things, but the entire adventure puts him into even tougher situations than the one where he froze up a decade ago. He knows he's in major trouble, but he gets dragged along anyway, because of his friendship with and indebtedness to his former partner.

DVD info from Amazon.

It's a pretty good transfer, with nice clear and bright images. It is widescreen, but letterboxed, not anamorphic. The only "feature" is that this purports to be an "uncut" version, although I have not been able to find any other version to see what might have been cut..

The crux of the endgame is discovering how Galligan will get out of the messy situation he enters because of the great debt he owes a friend.

IMDb voters score it a dismal 4.0. I'd say that is unfairly low. It is more comparable to the films in the 5.5 range. While the direction is not imaginative, it is workmanlike. Given that it went straight-to-vid, it's a watchable film. It has some thrills and suspense, decent character development, and some humor.

Tuna's Thoughts

Raw Nerve (1999) is a "corrupt cop" film starring Mario Van Peebles. Years before, his partner (Zach Galligan) froze during a shoot-out in which several cops were killed. Van Peebles fixed it for him on the condition he resign from the force. Now, Galligan is a criminology professor, and Van Peebles comes to him for help. It seems Mario is a silent partner in a money laundering business, and Internal Affairs is on to him. He becomes totally out of control, sees enemies everywhere, even among his friends, and starts killing everyone in his way.

IMDB readers have this at 4.0 of 10, but I enjoyed it more than that. I admit Van Peebles was out of control the entire film, but that was the point of the film. I also thought the Galligan character was interesting, as he was torn between a sense of right and wrong, and a sense of his debt to Van Peebles.

The Critics Vote ...

  • No major reviews online

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 4.0.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, Tuna - speaking for both reviewers - says, "As a watchable cop thriller I will give this a C."

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