Action Jackson (1988 film)

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Action Jackson
Action Jackson.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Craig R. Baxley
Produced by Joel Silver
Written by Robert Reneau
Starring Carl Weathers
Craig T. Nelson
Sharon Stone
Music by Herbie Hancock
Michael Kamen
Cinematography Matthew F. Leonetti
Edited by Mark Helfrich
Distributed by Lorimar Film Entertainment (Former)
Warner Bros. (Current)
Release dates
  • February 12, 1988 (1988-02-12)
Running time
96 minutes
Country United States
Language English
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.

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. Both Vanity and Sharon Stone briefly appear topless in this 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 of sorts at odds with the public. Even after his demotion, Jackson's continued interest leads to conflicts with his Captain and he begins investigating Dellapane's professional exploits, eventually uncovering the string of murdered trade union members connected to Dellaplane's company. It is confirmed, 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 who the businessman has assisted financially and is a heroin addict. He is eventually framed for murdering Dellaplane's wife Patrice (after she discovers her husband's 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. However, Jackson is rescued by Sydney's bodyguard "Big" Edd and the pair kill three of the Invisible Men during their escape.

The showdown leads to a firefight at Dellaplane's mansion at the party of a union leader whom Dellaplane plans to have assassinated. During the melee, the other members of The Invisible Men are foiled by Edd, Jackson's old partner Detective Kotterwell and a rehabilitated young thief named Albert. However, Jackson and Dellaplane (a trained martial artist) finally confront each other in a fisticuff ending in a crossfire exchange with Jackson fatally wounding Dellaplane and Jackson himself shot in the shoulder. Directly after saving the kidnapped Sydney and subsequently clearing his name, Jackson is restored to his former lieutenant rank as a result. Although admittingly attracted to Sydney but reluctant throughout their ordeal, Jackson finally starts a relationship with a now determined to be rehabilitated Sydney. The couple kiss 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."[1]

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