Thursday, June 17, 2010

Action Jackson (1988)

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Tagline:

NAME: Jericho Jackson
NICKNAME: "Action"
HOME: Detroit
PROFESSION: Cop
EDUCATION: Harvard Law
HOBBY: Fighting Crime
WEAPON: You're looking at 'em.

Back of DVD:

Like a blast from a .44 magnum, Carl Weathers (Predator, Rocky) makes Action Jackson a hero who delivers the goods in charisma and excitement.

He plays Detroit Police Sgt. Jericho Jackson, pitted against the brutal thugs of ruthless auto tycoon Peter Dellaplane (Craig T. Nelson), who's out to murder his way to political power. Jackon's also involved with Dellaplane's beautiful wife Patrice (Sharon Stone) - and his exotic mistress Sydney (singer Vanity). Framed up and hunted down by his fellow officers, Jackson sets up a desperate showdown that hurls Action Jackson toward a heart-stopping climax.

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Movie Review:

How the hell have I missed this movie before now? How did I see all those Schwarzenegger movies and Lethal Weapons but somehow have never heard of this gem? This movie defines 80's cop action movies, without a doubt. It is similar to Beverly Hills cop but with less joking around and more explosions. And that is what it is all about.

Frank Stringer, the bad guy from Schwarzenegger's 'Red Heat', is taking a memo with his secretary. Out of nowhere a bunch of masked guys rope in through the window and Frank shoots wildly at them, missing them all. He tries to escape but gets blown out of the highrise office building window in a ball of flames. In typical 80's action fashion the opening credits flash around the urban city streets to the music of The Pointer Sisters while demonstrating to us the bad clothes of the time.

Two cops see a young punk kid try to rob a large woman, obviously a man in a dress. He fails and gets beaten by her handbag for his efforts. The cops drag him into the station and put the fear of god into him by telling the kid he will have to meet with Action Jackson, a cop so bad they don't let him out of his cage. The kid shits himself and tries to escape, breaking half the office in the process, and runs straight into Jackson's desk spilling his coffee. Jackson simply says "Mellow out" and the kid faints. Haha!

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There's quite a few Schwarzenegger regulars in this, it's a shame that Arnie himself doesn't show up - but this is Carl Weather's vehicle. Obviously Carl Weathers is from Predator and there's the aforementioned Russian from Red Heat, but there is also Billy from Predator again, Robert Davi from Raw Deal (and Die Hard) as well as Jackson's police captain being Mac from Predator (and Cooke from Commando). It's an 80's sidekick circus. Al Leong even shows up as a chauffeur (he's the Asian bad-guy from every 80's action movie, ever... and Genghis Khan from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure!). I'm gonna make a point of tagging him in any movie I review because the guy just kicks arse.

Sergeant Jackson was formerly Lieutenant Jackson but lost his title due to previously ripping the arm off Dellaplane's son ("So? He had a spare."). We get that Jericho "Action" Jackson is one of those cops that doesn't go by the book and he has an equally cliched Captain (who never says he has to fill out mountains of paperwork because of Jackson's antics, or that he is just one day from retirement, but let's assume he is). Peter Dellaplane (Craig T. Nelson, Poltergeist) is a car dealer who is about to be given the Man of the Year award, and Jackson has been ordered to attend. This isn't so bad because he gets to meet Sharon Stone (It's funny, they put her on the cover of the DVD but she's only in it for the first act). Meanwhile the same guys who blew the Russian from Red Heat out of the window are now stabbing guys with spearfishing rods on a boat, handcuffing them to suitcases filled with explosives and blowing their boat up. Something bad is going on, if you couldn't tell yet.

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Jackson gets a call from his buddy Tony who says its a 'matter of life or death'. Tony's gone a little nuts but Jackson gets out of him that Dellaplane is killing off the members of the Auto Workers Alliance so that he can consolidate their power, and that he is next. He tells Jackson to talk to Dellaplane's wife (Sharon Stone) about it, which he does, and Tony gets blasted by a fake delivery guy. Sharon Stone blabs about what she knows to Jackson in a cafe. As they leave she asks him "Why do they call you Action?" and not a second later a cab tries to run them down. Jackson says he 'has to catch a cab' - on foot, mind you - then propels himself onto the roof of the cab that is crashing around the streets and exploding tanker trucks!

Dellaplane kills poor Sharon Stone (....spoiler) and leaves her body in Jackson's flat, all nice and staged for the cops to immediately blame Jackson. He hears about the warrant out for him on the police radio and takes refuge with Dellaplane's mistress, some 80's singer called Vanity (I guess you had to be there). She sings half her repertoire in this movie at a bad flashing-neon-sign type club; I hated 80's pop singing then and I still hate it now! Vanity helps Jackson both track down Dellaplane and his associates as well as constructing a plan to clear his name.

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The movie definitely lives up to its title. There is a hell of a lot of action in the movie. There's a hell of a lot of one-liners as well, though I have to say they don't always hit the mark. "Chill Out" then hitting a guy with a torch flame? "Hello, I'm Mr. Ed" as Vanity's bouncer drops from the ceiling? I did like "Barbeque? How do you like your ribs?" before shooting a grenade at close range into a guys chest. That one was sweet. There's quite a few funny secondary characters as well to keep an eye out for. The mugger kid from the beginning turns up a few times more, each time seeing Jackson and running in the other direction. There is also a cute scene with a well spoken, well-informed lady hairdresser who give Jackson a few leads.

Carl Weathers is a pretty good action hero and I am surprised there wasn't a sequel to Action Jackson: Jackson on Patrol (okay maybe not). There are enough explosions and the plot is interesting enough to keep you thoroughly entertained throughout. As well as that, all the 1980 action movie requirements are here - goons in suits with mullets, guys with machine guns in helicopters, car chases with cars flipping out through windows, assassination attempt at a dinner party, a fight in an old refinery.. the list just goes on. Action Jackson is not quite A+ material but it certainly tries damn hard to score a solid A.

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The Video:

Video is reasonably sharp for the age of the movie. In fact this is the perfect 80's action transfer. Grainy enough and the colours not overly saturated (except the neon lights and flaming cars), it really reinforces that you are watching a film that is a product of its time. The sound is nice and crisp in general and the explosions meaty. Runtime 92 minutes.

Update: I just realised I forgot to mention that this edition is widescreen 16:9 enhanced, and apparently that is a rarity with this title as there is no R2 release and the R1 is fullscreen pan & scan. Definitely get the Australian R4!

Sourced From:

$10 from MYER

Trailer:

More Screens:

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2 comments:

  1. I haven't done this one on my blog yet because it was pretty big in the theater, but I probably should. I'm not sure how many times I've seen it, but it's always awesome. For a long time you could find it over here in any DVD bargain bin, but I haven't checked in a while. Good stuff.

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  2. Yes I thought it might have been too far from DTV to appear on your blog, but it would make a nice addition to your wildcard posts. I really enjoyed it though as I said in the review it didn't quite have the power of a truly GREAT movie. Though I guess in time I'll just laugh more and more at the ridiculous "Hello, I'm Mr Ed" line.

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