Director John Irvin must have a real passion for mob movies. He tries his best in both Schwarzenegger's Raw Deal and a few years later with Patrick Swayze's Next of Kin to create a violent, good action film but make it passionate and dramatic and all about crime family vs crime family. However with Next of Kin he must have fine tuned some of the mistakes from the rather slow moving Raw Deal. Next of Kin is a much better film and perhaps a big part of that is the strong cast of future stars Next of Kin carries. Liam Neeson, Helen Hunt, Ben Stiller, Bill Paxton, and even Patrick Swayze who was really at the height of his career in this film...between Dirty Dancing and Ghost.
Next of Kin takes a rather liberal view at a group of people not normally dealt with in films...mountain people...or hillbillies if you will. Swayze plays a former country boy who moved to the big city, became a cop, married his love, and is now urbanized himself. His little brother who aims to follow up in his footsteps ends up getting himself murdered by the crime family, Isabella. The rest of his "kin" want Swayze to avenge the death but Swayze is determined to let justice take it's course. Again, much like Raw Deal, Next of Kin is about vengeance and anger and it all bottles up until one big explosion of revenge in the end. The big difference is that Next of Kin stays interesting through the whole movie right up to and including the end and still has some really great action scenes to boot.
The cast as previously mentioned is very well done fortunately for Mr. Irvin. Swayze plays a convincing cop and mountain boy and him and Helen Hunt have decent chemistry for their brief on screen moments. Adam Baldwin as the blood thirsty villain does a good job (not as good his later performance in Joss Whedon's Serenity (aka Firefly) as Jayne but he is convincing as the bad guy. Ben Stiller's brief role is also quite good as the smarter villain but he doesn't last long. Overall Next of Kin is a decent entry in the eighties action genre. It has it's moments and is worth checking out for those full of nostalgia.