Action Jackson is a 1988 American action film directed by Craig R. Baxley in his feature film directorial debut. It starred Carl Weathers, Vanity, Craig T. Nelson and Sharon Stone.
The film was released in the United States on February 12, 1988 by Lorimar Film Entertainment.
| Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about|
the entire movie.
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 Michigan Police Detective Sergeant Jericho Jackson, known locally as "Action Jackson", was a celebrated lieutenant in the police force but demoted (nearly two years prior) because of a case he headed involving the criminal son of successful businessman Peter Anthony Dellaplane.
The fall out 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 Dellapane's professional exploits, eventually uncovering the 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 the group of assassins, dubbed The Invisible Men, to kill 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 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.
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.)
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 commanders 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 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
- Bob Minor as Gamble
- 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
Carl Weathers came up with the idea for the film while he was on the set of Predator during conversations with producer Joel Silver about their shared interest in 1970s blaxploitation films.
The film title was created after Weathers spoke to an Australian crew member about the project and the crew member said, "I'm in like Action Jackson" as an expression in his interest in working on the film.
Paula Abdul was the film's choreographer.
The movie was filmed in Denver, Colorado, Detroit, Michigan and Los Angeles, California.
The exteriors of Dellaplane's mansion was filmed at 380 South San Rafael Avenue in Pasadena, California.
Weathers said that 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."
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 at all).
"Action Jackson" opened at #3 at the box office, grossing $5,424,783 in its opening weekend.
While successful at the box office, "Action Jackson" received a negative reception from critics.
Roger Ebert gave the film a one star rating, saying, " "Action Jackson" plays like a cross between “Superman” and “The Face of Death,” and that’s not intended as a compliment. Rarely have comedy and gruesome violence been combined in such a blithe mixture, as if the violence didn’t really count."
Rita Kempley from the Washington Post called the film "flexploitation pure and simple -- nothing but savagery, sex and sinew."
Vanity was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for "Worst Actress."