After re-living Tiger Claws for the podcast (and again while editing and yet again for captions clean-up), I was in desparate need for something a little more reputable. Action Jackson was more than willing to deliver. As one of my all-time favorite 80s action movies, watching Action Jackson was like returning home at Christmas.
We gushed over this movie in the podcast and would kill for a sequel. There has been one item in the movie, one curious choice, that I've been thinking more about lately. That is the choice to have Craig T. Nelson do karate. It only comes up twice in the story. Once when we are supposed to learn he is evil in more ways than one after he cheats in a practice fight with his trainer and then breaks him arm. It only comes up again at the end of the movie in the final battle with Action.
We've covered a lot of 80s action movies and you can't go more than two VHS tapes without tripping over a movie that is about karate. Movies in the 80s had so much karate that I thought the only way to survive on the streets was obtain a black belt. Unfortunately, just like quicksand in 80s movies, I never had a karate encounter.
What has stuck with me with the decision to have the primary villain do karate in Action Jackson is because of Carl Weathers. Everyone knows Carl Weathers as Apollo Creed. In the final sequence, Apollo makes an appearance and pummels Dellaplane in the form of Action Jackson. In retrospect, I think fans would have enjoyed a semi-boxing match at the end of this film, pulling on the memories of Apollo Creed.
Instead, Dellaplane is a karate master. Jackson's backstory involves him being on the track team at Harvard, so why not either make Dellaplane a boxer or give Jackson a much more random fighting style. Make it a karate versus Gymkata ending. Or go all in on a WWF wrestling match. Alas, we got a generic fight at the end of the movie.
Now that I think about it, maybe they both should have done karate and had an epic battle in the shadows.
What to do after watching Action Jackson
Go read this short interview with Carl Weathers, who goes into his wide array of projects. It includes his time as a theater major at San Diego State and his work on Toy Story of Terror.
Next, watch this interview with Vanity on The Arsenio Hall Show in 1986.
Now go listen to this podcast episode in which Craig T. Nelson discusses life, work, and his struggles with addiction and getting sober.
— Armchair Expert Podcast (@ArmchairExpPod) May 20, 2019
You absolutely must watch this trailer for an Indian movie with the same title, Action Jackson.
After you're all done, go buy this shirt. If you use this phrase as often as I do, might as well have front and center on your body.
What to watch next
It is tempting to watch Rocky or Rocky II for some seriously amazing Apollo Creed. Or, put on Predator and bask in the glory of the greatest action movie ever made. Instead, I recommend you watch Happy Gilmore simply for the fun of seeing Carl Weathers play Chubbs.