Action Jackson (1988 film)

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Action Jackson
Action Jackson film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Craig R. Baxley
Produced by Joel Silver
Written byRobert Reneau
Music by Herbie Hancock
Michael Kamen
Cinematography Matthew F. Leonetti
Edited by Mark Helfrich
Distributed by Lorimar Film Entertainment
Release date
  • February 12, 1988 (1988-02-12)
Running time
96 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$7 million
Box office$20,256,975

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 February 12, 1988.

Action film is a film genre in which the protagonist or protagonists are thrust into a series of challenges that typically include violence, extended fighting, physical feats, and frantic chases. Action films tend to feature a resourceful hero struggling against incredible odds, which include life-threatening situations, a villain, or a pursuit which usually concludes in victory for the hero. Advancements in CGI have made it cheaper and easier to create action sequences and other visual effects that required the efforts of professional stunt crews in the past. However, reactions to action films containing significant amounts of CGI have been mixed, as films that use computer animations to create unrealistic, highly unbelievable events are often met with criticism. While action has long been a recurring component in films, the "action film" genre began to develop in the 1970s along with the increase of stunts and special effects. Common action scenes in films are generally, but not limited to, car chases, fighting and gunplay or shootouts.

Craig Redding Baxley is an American director, stunt coordinator, stunt performer and occasional actor. He is best known for his work in the action and thriller genres.

Carl Weathers actor; Former American Football Player

Carl Weathers is an American actor and former professional football player. He is best known for portraying Apollo Creed in the Rocky series of films, Al Dillon in Predator, Chubbs Peterson in Happy Gilmore and Little Nicky, and a fictionalized version of himself on the comedy series Arrested Development. As a football player, Weathers played for the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League and the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League.


Paula Abdul was the film choreographer. The film was released by Lorimar Film Entertainment. Vanity was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award as Worst Actress.

Paula Abdul American-Canadian singer and songwriter

Paula Julie Abdul is an American dancer, choreographer, singer, actress, and television personality. She began her career as a cheerleader for the Los Angeles Lakers at the age of 18 and later became the head choreographer for the Laker Girls, where she was discovered by The Jacksons. After choreographing music videos for Janet Jackson, Abdul became a choreographer at the height of the music video era and soon thereafter she was signed to Virgin Records. Her debut studio album Forever Your Girl (1988) became one of the most successful debut albums at that time, selling 7 million copies in the United States and setting a record for the most number-one singles from a debut album on the Billboard Hot 100 chart: "Straight Up", "Forever Your Girl", "Cold Hearted", and "Opposites Attract". Her six number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 tie her with Diana Ross for seventh among the female solo performers who have topped the chart.

Lorimar Productions, Inc., later known as Lorimar Television and Lorimar Distribution, was an American production company that was later a subsidiary of Warner Bros., active from 1969 until 1993. It was founded by Irwin Molasky, Merv Adelson, and Lee Rich. The company's name was a portmanteau of Adelson's ex-wife, Lori, and Palomar Airport in San Diego, California.

Golden Raspberry Awards Award presented in recognition of the worst in film

The Golden Raspberry Awards is a parody award where they honor a booby prize to a film and the actors for embarrassing cinematic performances as part of ridicule. Co-founded by UCLA film graduates and film industry veterans John J. B. Wilson and Mo Murphy, the annual Razzie Awards ceremony in Los Angeles precedes the corresponding Academy Awards ceremony by one day. The term raspberry in the name is used in its irreverent sense, as in "blowing a raspberry". The awards themselves are in the form of a "golf ball-sized raspberry" atop a Super 8 mm film reel, all spray painted gold.


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.

A trade union is an association of workers forming a legal unit or legal personhood, usually called a "bargaining unit", which acts as bargaining agent and legal representative for a unit of employees in all matters of law or right arising from or in the administration of a collective agreement. Labour unions typically fund the formal organisation, head office, and legal team functions of the labour union through regular fees or union dues. The delegate staff of the labour union representation in the workforce are made up of workplace volunteers who are appointed by members in democratic elections.

Supernatural Anything inexplicable by scientific understanding of the laws of nature

The concept of the supernatural encompasses anything that is inexplicable by scientific understanding of the laws of nature but nevertheless argued by believers to exist. Examples include immaterial beings such as angels, gods and spirits, and claimed human abilities like magic, telekinesis and extrasensory perception.

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 his way into a "behind-the-throne" seat of power and has been using a group of assassins, dubbed The Invisible Men, to kill uncooperative union officials.

Detroit Police Department

The Detroit Police Department (DPD) is a municipal police force responsible for the U.S. city of Detroit, Michigan.

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 for murdering Dellaplane's wife Patrice (killed by her husband after she discovers his plot and goes to Jackson for help). 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, and Dee, a lively local hairdresser (and gossip informant) who gives Jackson a way to discreetly get to Dellaplane.

Heroin chemical compound

Heroin, also known as diamorphine among other names, is an opioid most commonly used as a recreational drug for its euphoric effects. It is used medically in several countries to relieve pain or in opioid replacement therapy. It is typically injected, usually into a vein, but it can also be smoked, snorted, or inhaled. The onset of effects is usually rapid and lasts for a few hours.

In the United States criminal law, a frame-up (frameup) or setup is the act of framing someone, that is, providing false evidence or false testimony in order to falsely prove someone guilty of a crime. While incriminating those who are innocent might be done out of sheer malice, framing is primarily used as a distraction.

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," 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 kill all three Invisible Men. ("Barbecue, huh? How do you like your ribs?" Jackson asks the leader before he kills him with his own grenade launcher.)

Grenade launcher class of gun designed to fire grenade shells

A grenade launcher is a weapon that fires a specially-designed large-caliber projectile, often with an explosive, smoke or gas warhead. Today, the term generally refers to a class of dedicated firearms firing unitary grenade cartridges. The most common type are man-portable, shoulder-fired weapons issued to individuals, although larger crew-served launchers are issued at higher levels of organisation by military forces.

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. 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 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 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. [1]

In 1990 Weathers starred in Dangerous Passion , an action film, which was released in Germany under the title Action Jackson 2, although it did not relate to the original film. [2]


The Action Jackson soundtrack features new music by Sister Sledge, The Pointer Sisters, Vanity, and Herbie Hancock. [3] Vanity's two songs, "Faraway Eyes" and "Undress," were produced by musician Jesse Johnson.


While successful at the box office, [4] [5] the movie received a negative reception from critics. [6] [7] [8]

Weathers said he hoped the film would become a franchise "but Lorimar sold the lot to Sony and sold the library to Warner Bros., and that was that. It never resurfaced again, unfortunately."

The film received a score of 9% on Rotten Tomatoes. [9] It grossed $20 million on a $8 million budget, and made another $45 million in VHS sales. [1]

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. [10]

See also

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  1. 1 2 "Carl Weathers on Toy Story Of Terror, blaxploitation films, and James Brown" By Will Harris AV Club Sep 2, 2014 accessed 7 Sept 2014
  3. Allmusic-Action Jackson Soundtrack
  4. Mathews, Jack (30 November 2006). "WEEKEND BOX OFFICE : 'Shoot' Leads Black Film Group - Los Angeles Times". Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  5. Cieply, Michael (19 February 1988). "3 Black-Keyed Films a Hit and a First at Theater - Los Angeles Times". Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  6. Kenny, Glenn (12 February 1988). "Action Jackson Movie Review & Film Summary (1988)". Roger Ebert. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  7. Wilmington, Michael (7 November 2010). "MOVIE REVIEW : Gun-Obsessed Hero in 'Jackson' - Los Angeles Times". Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  8. Goodman, Walter (12 February 1988). "Movie Review - Action Jackson - Film: 'Action Jackson'". Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  10. "Watch Lazor Wulf - "Keep It Moving" on Adult Swim". Adult Swim. Retrieved 5 May 2019.