Action Jackson (1988 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Craig R. Baxley|
|Produced by||Joel Silver|
|Written by||Robert Reneau|
|Music by||Herbie Hancock|
|Cinematography||Matthew F. Leonetti|
|Edited by||Mark Helfrich|
|Distributed by||Lorimar Film Entertainment|
Action Jackson is a 1988 American action film directed by Craig R. Baxley in his feature film directorial debut, and starring Carl Weathers, Vanity, Craig T. Nelson and Sharon Stone. The film was released in the United States on 12 February 1988.
The story prologues with two auto-worker union officials addressing the recent death of a peer. Within moments, both are brutally murdered by a group of shadowy, almost supernatural killers that seem to move, disappear and reappear at will during a daring skyscraper assault.
Detroit Police Department Detective Sergeant Jericho Jackson, known locally as "Action Jackson", was a celebrated lieutenant in the police force but demoted (nearly two years before) because of a case he headed involving the criminal son of successful businessman Peter Anthony Dellaplane. The fallout over the case also collapsed Jackson's marriage and put the law-school-educated, star athlete and hometown hero at odds with the public. Even after his demotion, Jackson's continued interest leads to conflicts with his commander, Captain Armbruster, but he begins investigating Dellaplane's professional exploits, eventually uncovering a string of murdered trade-union members connected to Dellaplane's company. He discovers Dellaplane is secretly maneuvering into a "behind-the-throne" seat of power, and has been using a group of assassins, "The Invisible Men", to murder uncooperative union officials.
Jackson is assisted by Dellaplane's mistress, Sydney Ash, a local lounge singer and heroin addict, whom the businessman has assisted financially. He is eventually framed in the murder of Dellaplane's wife Patrice (who was actually killed by her husband, after her discovery of his plot, and her seeking help from Jackson). On the run from the police, Jackson is helped by friends from his old neighborhood:
- Kid Sable, a local hotel owner and retired professional boxer
- Dee, a lively local hairdresser (and gossip informant) who gives Jackson a way to discreetly get to Dellaplane
Jackson and Sydney arrange a meeting with Dellaplane's figurehead replacement for the auto union, unaware that The Invisible Men had been tracking them and allowed the meeting so that Dellaplane could confront Jackson face to face. Before he leaves with Sydney in tow, Dellaplane arrogantly reveals the reasoning for his plans and intends to exact it using Jackson as a pawn. He intends to kill Jackson, put one of The Invisible Men in his place, have him kill an important union official, and then have Jackson's charred body discovered after he failed his getaway. "Dellaplane, one of these days you are really going to piss me off," Jackson calls after his nemesis as he leaves with all but three of The Invisible Men. "We're going to have ourselves a little barbecue," Shaker, The Invisible Men's leader claims as they prepare to burn Jackson alive. But Jackson is suddenly rescued by Sydney's bodyguard "Big" Edd and the pair battle the Invisible Men. Edd overpowers Birch, knocking him into a control panel, electrocuting him, while Jackson turns the wielding torch they were about to use on him on Thaw, who is killed when the gasoline can he is holding explodes. Shaker opens fire on the pair with his grenade launcher, sending them running for cover.They lure him outside where Edd disarms him and Jackson takes the grenade launcher.("Barbecue, huh? How do you like your ribs?" Jackson asks Shaker before he opens fire, killing him.)
Jackson's escape leads to a fight at Dellaplane's mansion during the birthday party for the union leader Dellaplane plans to have assassinated. During the melee, the other members of The Invisible Men are killed by Jackson (who personally deals with the one set to make the kill and frame him), Edd, Jackson's old partner Detective Kotterwell, and a rehabilitated young thief named Albert, with help from Kid Sable. However, Dellaplane takes Sydney hostage and hides inside a bedroom in his mansion. After being given a gun by Kotterwell, Jackson commandeers a car being displayed at the party, crashes into the house, kills Dellaplane's butler/bodyguard, Cartier by ramming him into a wall as the latter fires at him, and roars upstairs to crash into the room Dellaplane is holding Sydney in. After a brief standoff, Dellaplane, (a trained martial artist) challenges Jackson to hand-to-hand combat. At first Dellaplane has the upper hand, but after ramming Jackson into a car window, he is abruptly shoved back by Jackson, who turns and shouts "Now you've pissed me off!" Jackson proceeds to thrash Dellaplane. In desperation, Dellaplane goes for his gun, only for Jackson to seize his own and engage in a crossfire exchange, with Jackson killing Dellaplane and receiving a wound in the shoulder in return. Captain Armbruster arrives with reinforcements, informs Jackson that he wants a full report on his desk "in the morning ..." and calls Jackson "Lieutenant." Sydney soon reveals she plans to go "cold turkey" off of heroin, promising Jackson can have her "on Thanksgiving." Jackson replies, "Can I have you any sooner?" Sydney giggles and the two kiss passionately as the screen fades to black.
- Carl Weathers as Sgt. Jericho "Action" Jackson
- Craig T. Nelson as Peter Anthony Dellaplane
- Vanity as Sydney Ash
- Sharon Stone as Patrice Dellaplane
- Bill Duke as Captain Earl Armbruster
- Robert Davi as Tony Moretti
- Jack Thibeau as Detective Kotterwell
- Armelia McQueen as Dee
- Stan Foster as Albert Smith
- Roger Aaron Brown as Officer Lack
- Thomas F. Wilson as Officer Kornblau
- Edgar Small as Raymond Foss
- Chino 'Fats' Williams as Kid Sable
- Prince A. Hughes as Edd
- Frank McCarthy as Oliver O'Rooney
- De'Voreaux White as Clovis
- Dennis Hayden as Shaker
- David Glen Eisley as Thaw
- Bob Minor as Gamble
- David Effron as Birch
- Brian Libby as Martin
- Nicholas Worth as Cartier
- Branscombe Richmond as Poolroom thug
- Miguel Nunez as Poolroom thug
- Charles Meshack as Poolroom thug
- Al Leong as Dellaplane's chauffeur
- Ed O'Ross as Frank Stringer
- Mary Ellen Trainor as Liz Mazatorri
- Jim Haynie as Morty Morton
- Ivor Barry as Stuffy Old Man
- Michael McManus as Lionel Grantham
- Sonny Landham as Mr. Quick
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (December 2015)
Carl Weathers later called the film:
A creation that came about when I was doing Predator and talking to Joel Silver, who loved blaxploitation movies. Joel said, "Well, you know, why don't you put something together?" So during that time of shooting down in Puerto Vallarta, I created this story and came up with this guy – or at least this title – Action Jackson. And Joel found a writer [who] wrote the screenplay, and that was it. We got it made.
The Action Jackson soundtrack features new music by Sister Sledge, The Pointer Sisters, Vanity, and Herbie Hancock. Vanity's two songs, "Faraway Eyes" and "Undress," were produced by musician Jesse Johnson.
The film received a score of 13% on Rotten Tomatoes from 15 reviews. On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 36 out of 100, based on 9 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". It grossed $20 million on a $8 million budget, and made another $45 million in VHS sales.
In popular culture
The film is the subject of the Lazor Wulf episode, "Keep It Moving," in which the last VHS copy of the film has been stolen, and the main characters attempt to recreate moments they believe are in the film in order to become more like Action Jackson and retrieve the tape.
- "The Roy Faires Collection - Interview with Carl Weathers (1988)". Texas Archive of the Moving Image. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
- "Carl Weathers on Toy Story Of Terror, blaxploitation films, and James Brown" By Will Harris AV Club Sep 2, 2014 accessed 7 September 2014
- Allmusic-Action Jackson Soundtrack
- Mathews, Jack (30 November 2006). "WEEKEND BOX OFFICE : 'Shoot' Leads Black Film Group". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
- Cieply, Michael (19 February 1988). "3 Black-Keyed Films a Hit and a First at Theater". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
- Kenny, Glenn (12 February 1988). "Action Jackson Movie Review & Film Summary (1988)". Roger Ebert. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
- Wilmington, Michael (7 November 2010). "MOVIE REVIEW : Gun-Obsessed Hero in 'Jackson'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
- Goodman, Walter (12 February 1988). "Movie Review - Action Jackson - Film: 'Action Jackson'". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
- "Action Jackson (1988) reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
- "Watch Lazor Wulf - "Keep It Moving" on Adult Swim". Adult Swim. Retrieved 5 May 2019.