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'Action Jackson' : (R)

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
February 13, 1988

"Action Jackson" is flexploitation pure and simple -- nothing but savagery, sex and sinew. Only this time, the crowd-pleasing meat loaf is neither Stallone nor Schwarzenegger, but their former sidekick Carl Weathers. Right away you know something is different, because you can actually understand the dialogue. And never once does anyone say "Yo."

Actually, Jericho (Action) Jackson, a graduate of Harvard Law School, is more likely to say "Great to see you." The two-fisted preppie cop is on the front lines in downtown Detroit, the land of Robocop. Ivy Leaguer or not, Jackson has the nerve of that half-metal he-man, and as a former track star, the ability to outrun cabs. And as a good screen gladiator should, he fricassees and skewers mob slime without even flinching.

Here, the conflict is between Jackson and the implausible villain Peter Dellaplane (Craig T. Nelson), a maniacal auto maker who murders his wife, in part to test his gun. Dellaplane, stereotypical scum, is assassinating the big wheels of an auto workers' union. Mission: to gain a political power base and pick the next president of the United States. Dellaplane has taken a particular dislike to Jackson, who once tore off the arm of his son the sex deviate. "So? He had a spare," ripostes Jackson.

Despite his reputation, Jackson never seems like the sort to tear off limbs. Weathers is too sweet looking with those big brown Sugar Ray eyes. He radiates class even when stripped to the waist and chained to a post to show off his bodacious chest.

Vanity plays the girl -- Dellaplane's mistress Sydney, who trades her body for heroin. She joins Jackson in a series of car chases, leaving a veritable Dolby demolition derby in their wake. She then joins him in several fight scenes, two of which have nothing whatsoever to do with the plot. And while we see Dellaplane romance Sydney, Jackson, true to the code of Rambo, remains pure despite her obvious allure.

"Action Jackson" is directed by Craig R. Baxley, who is as good as he needs to be in this assembly-line movie. It's strictly a retread.

Action Jackson, rated R, contains profanity, drug use, gratuitous sex and violence

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