Action Jackson 
DVD Action-Adventure
Written by Bill Warren   
Tuesday, 18 May 1999

Action Jackson

Warner Home Video
MPAA rating: R
starring: Carl Weathers, Craig T. Nelson, Vanity, Sharon Stone
release year: 1988
film rating: Two-and-a-Half Stars
sound/picture: Three Stars
reviewed by: Bill Warren

‘Action Jackson’ is better than its title and formulaic plot might suggest, without quite transcending its cartoonishness enough to qualify as an entirely good movie. Still, it’s enjoyable on a guilty pleasure level.

Carl Weathers carries ‘Action Jackson’ on his broad shoulders as the title character, a Detroit police detective. Jackson was busted from lieutenant to sergeant two years ago for roughing up a violent child molester. The molester’s father, auto manufacturer Peter Dellaplane (Craig T. Nelson), now has a nefarious plot to get into politics by taking over a union, using murder as a tool. Naturally, Jackson gets wind of the scheme and tries to intervene, while Dellaplane uses every dirty trick in the book to stop him.

Director Craig R. Baxley and writer Robert Reneau get the film off to a high-octane start in Chapter 1, with an unusual high-rise office invasion. Thereafter, the action doesn’t really surprise us at any point, but there are a number of respectable explosions, especially in Chapter 17 and 27. Those who like demolition derby-style car chases should also check out Chapter 13. The musical score by jazz great Herbie Hancock and film composer Michael Kamen is lively, though sometimes the mix with the ambient sound isn’t as appealing as it could be. For example, in Chapter 6, the sounds of violence are reproduced handsomely, with an especially good climactic explosion, but the dialogue is blended in too softly, while an operatic aria accompanying the sequence is almost harsh. The modified full-frame aspect ratio does no favors to the staging .

Weathers has a lot of charisma as Jackson, as well as looking credibly strong. Nelson twinkles with cheery malevolence as a perfectly evil baddie. For those who appreciate gratuitous nudity (i.e., without any bearing on the plot), it should also be noted that Sharon Stone has a sizable supporting role as what must be one of the dumbest characters in the genre, which is saying a lot. Vanity likewise bares herself and sings (though not simultaneously) as Jackson’s reluctant ally against the heinous Dellaplane.

‘Action Jackson’ harks back to the black action films of the ‘70s. It has less guts and style than the best of its predecessors, but it’s an acceptable time-killer nonetheless.

more details
sound format:
English and French Dolby Digital Surround Stereo
aspect ratio(s):
1:3:3 (full-frame, modified from original widescreen aspect ratio)
special features: English Closed-Captioning, Chapter Search
comments: email us here...
reference system
DVD player: Kenwood DV-403
receiver: Kenwood VR-407
main speakers: Paradigm Atom
center speaker: Paradigm CC-170
rear speakers: Paradigm ADP-70
subwoofer: Paradigm PDR-10
monitor: 36-inch Sony XBR

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