With this one we make a return to the pile of two dollar DVD’s. Outside of the title I knew literally nothing about this movie. It seemed like a potential good cheesy 80’s time and I was pretty impressed with the cast so fuck it,Action Jackson gets a spot on the shelf!
Right up front, I love me some Carl Weathers. Of course Rocky is one of my favourite movies of all time (holy fuck I never posted the last few entries of my favourite movies list! Well that’s only 8 months late at this point…) and he’s terrific in all the entries he appeared in. Then you got Predator, as well as some fantastic comedic turns in Happy Gilmore and Arrested Development. The man is great and it’s too bad that this movie, at least as far as I can tell, is one of his only starring roles. Going into it, I couldn’t help but think maybe there was a reason nobody gave him those parts after this movie but nope, still don’t get it as he’s really good here!
Weathers is of course the titular Action Jackson, a former police lieutenant who was demoted to sergeant after beating the shit out of the son of a powerful car manufacturer played by Craig T. Nelson. Obviously Jackson is not a fan of Nelson so the movie is about him trying to reveal to the world that Nelson is up to some bad shit. He also recruits a junkie singer along the way. Oh and Sharon Stone pops up here too for a bit and yes there is absolutely some Stone boob.
Action Jackson himself is a fun character, not too unlike Apollo Creed actually. Confident though a little less arrogant, with a general sense of enjoyment about what he’s doing. Weathers is great in the role, being able to easily play up the charm but also completely believable as someone who could earn the reputation of a super cop because holy shit is this guy ever jacked up! I don’t even remember him being this huge in the Rocky movies. Weathers must have been pretty happy about this physique as well as boy they sure do find a lot of reasons for him to have no shirt on. It really does make me wish he had gotten a few more starring vehicles as he makes for a great action movie lead.
The rest of the cast is also solid. Biff from Back to the Future shows up briefly as one of the other cops and I liked that Action Jackson was well liked amongst the other officers. Usually they would be all “He’s a loose cannon, I don’t want to partner with that psycho” but here they really like him and even later in the movie when they have to pursue as a murder suspect, they seem genuinely bummed out about it. Stone is fine, not really in the movie very much. Nelson makes a credible villain, at least when he’s talking all menacingly and threatening people. But I don’t care how much you show him practicing karate, I don’t buy for a second he would be able to hold his own in a fight against a dude who looks like Carl Weathers. Weathers would punch Nelson in the stomach, Nelson would start crying, and that would be the end of the match.
The action itself is solid though it does take a while to get things moving. The first real action set piece shows up about 40 minutes in and it’s as though the movie realized it was taking too long as it immediately follows a character asking “why do they call you Action Jackson?” We are then treated to a car chase where Jackson spends the majority of it chasing a cab on foot. It’s pretty god damn impressive as he maintains speed with it despite the cab driving at a pretty high speed. It’s ridiculous sure, but certainly unique. There are also lots of fun touches, like a part where Jackson throws a dude out a window where he flies across an alley and smashes into another window. That proves this movie is definitely trying. The fight scenes are good but again, you can’t show me Apollo Creed fighting Coach and expect me to believe it would be a pretty even fight.
One key action hero area that Action Jackson needs work though is the art of the one liner. There are plenty of them here, especially towards the end where they unload them at an alarming rate, but most of them range from bad to god awful to pure nonsense. For example, one of them has Jackson telling a bad guy to “chill out” only he doesn’t then go to hit him with a freezer or stab him with an icicle. Instead he sets the guy on the fire. Chill out = sets the guy on fire. He couldn’t have fucked that one liner up more! What if Arnold had said “Let off some steam Bennett” and then hit him with a hammer. I have no clue what they were going for there. I even paused the movie to ask my wife if she could think of a scientific explanation for this one liner that I wasn’t thinking of but nope, I think they just fucked up. There was another one I was going to call out where a character yells “Hello, I’m Mr. Ed” before beating some people up but apparently his name is actually Ed so it’s not as random as I initially thought. Still not a good one though as that reference was already ridiculously dated when this movie was made 26 years ago.
It’s a slow burn in the beginning and certainly a silly movie, but I enjoyed Action Jackson way more than I expected, mostly due to Carl Weathers who is damn fun in the role. Throw in some solid action (did I mention he drives a fancy car through the inside of a mansion?) and some fun 80’s cheese, and this one is worth a casual watch for sure.