Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Carl Weathers

Synonymous with the role of Apollo Creed, which he played in the first four Rocky movies between 1976 and 1985, Carl Weathers true potential as an action star was first realized in a supporting role in 1987 action classic Predator alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Producer Joel Silver must have liked what he saw because only a year later Weathers, a former football player with a muscular physique and plenty of charisma, was the lead in his own movie; the cult favourite Action Jackson.

Craig R. Baxley’s 1988 feature cast Weathers as a Detroit city cop called Jerico Jackson. Nickname: Action. Occasionally absurd, with a lot of moments of comic relief and cartoon violence, it’s a great example of over-the-top 80s action cinema and a great vehicle for Weathers. It’s also notable for its supporting cast, which not only includes Predator co-stars Bill Duke and Sonny Landham, but also Craig T. Nelson, Robert Davi and the then unknown Sharon Stone.

Unfortunately the film flopped, critics pointing to its over familiar clichés and uneven blend of comedy and extreme violence. It was 4 years before Weathers got a second shot, going from playing Action Jackson to Hurricane Smith. The result isn’t quite the lazy rehash the title would suggest, but that’s not saying much.

Despite being backed by Warner Bros., Colin Budd’s 1992 feature hasn’t got quirks or charisma and feels like a cheap B-movie. The story is more straightforward but rather tedious. Weathers plays a Texan construction worker who travels to Australia’s Gold Coast to find his missing sister and upsets some local villains and that’s it.

The support cast are all unknowns except for Jürgen Prochnow. He’s proven himself a reliable villain in later films such as The Replacement Killers, Gunblast Voka and The Elite, but even he can’t elevate this thriller above average.

Running just over 80 minutes, the story is thin and resolution largely unsatisfying. Thankfully there’s an action packed final 10 minutes that includes a speedboat chase, assault on the villain’s lair and a fight in a helicopter that redeem the tedium.

Weathers went on to play the action hero in the series Street Justice, but was cancelled after two seasons, and co-starred with Hulk Hogan and Shannon Tweed in two Shadow Warriors TV movies. But since the turn of the millennium he’s been largely relegated to supporting roles in comedies. Most notably appearing as Police Chief Benjamin 'Ben' Benson in bizarre action homage Phoo Action in 2008.

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