It’s 1988. Do you know where your entertainment dollar is being spent? If you were 17 like I was in 1988, probably on shit films like this one.
Yes, folks, it’s back - bigger and blacker than ever before: blaxploitation. Big business in the late ’60s and most all of the ’70s, blaxploitation set out to make movie stars of black folks and stick it to the man by cashing in on crazy ghetto slang, foxy ladies and white villains. Aiight?
Of course, no black epic is any good without the white-guy imposed black clichés and Action Jackson comes with a delicious serve of everything you’ve ever loved about clichés. Check it...
See the funky black dude with ghetto blaster on shoulder!
See ex-singers from Prince’s backing band desperately taking their fading shot at stardom!
See bouffant hair and mullet-cuts going at it like gangbusters!
See Carl Weathers, stripped to the waist and oiled up, manacled like a slave!
Plus, there are luxurious acres of dubious one-liners and quotes of the day being thrown about like gin bottles at a wedding.
And many more!
Carl Weathers exceeds his abilities here as he banters with the baddies, throws himself on top of speeding cabs with a quip and a smile and wrestles topless ex-singers (who sing a little bit). He also shoots people, wears those shimmery silver dress jackets plus leather jackets with the sleeves pushed up as well. I was disappointed he wasn’t wearing Soul-Glo on his hair though. Sharon Stone stops by to get her breasts out, as does the ex-Prince singer Bathroom Sink. Both these foxy mamas come replete with white high heels, tiered skirts, white dresses with a diamond-shaped backless bit and obligatory high hair. Plus, Jackson has a police chief who doesn’t agree with his methods and let’s not forget the standard ‘breakdancin’ posse’ with headbands on a subway train either. Finally, there’s a drugged-out informant (and Jackson’s only lead to the crime, whatever that was) who decides to quit smack just like that (cue ‘snapping fingers’ sound effect) and does so, because she’s in love with Action! Well done, junkie!
I can’t remember if the cover ‘rapping’ had ‘Under $12’ or ‘Under $15’ on it, but I’m gonna go for the former. Action Jackson also features Thomas F. Wilson as an incompetent and slapstickish white cop with hep-cat black partner who is too cool for school. (He played ‘Biff’ in the Back to the Future series).
El cheapo presentation garners el cheapo quality. There’s an unfunky mild grain through about 75 percent of this film, with the other 25 treated to a faint ghostly smoke filling every scene. There are various grades of film artefacts throughout including black and white specks and vertical scratches. We should be happy though, as they do distract partially from the godawful fashion of the time. The picture is delivered in feasible 1.85:1 with enhancement which truly brings to life the (from the slipcase) ‘heart-stopping climax’. My heart didn’t stop or in fact even start watching this film I’m afraid, unless laughter counts.
Functional and sexy, the Dolby Dig stereo sets a cracking pace for Action to test out his dry-wit and humourously outdated pick-up lines and resounding one-liners. My favourite (among a myriad) and not even spoken by Action:
|"You did it again, Jackson!"|
That reminded me of the film Cool As Ice in which hapless heroine Vanilla Ice beats out a funky black dude with his winning pick-up line and an aside voice from the ne’er-do-wells behind claiming that, “Ice has done it to us again, man!”
God bless you, Vanilla Ice®™, whatever men’s shelter you live in these days.
One last, brief note; in case you aren’t fully ’80-rised yet, the music has been tortured by Herbie Hancock with Michael Kamen providing backing talent.
If you like ‘em slow-witted, poorly scripted and fast-fisted, with a genuine ’80s flair and dubious plot holes and explosions, this might be your thang. If not, probably best to avoid this side of the street and avert your eyes.