Tuesday, October 14, 2014

(Almost) Ask Me a Question: Predator & Action Jackson

We're just over a week away from Carl Weathers night at The Egyptian Theatre where we'll be getting a double dose of 80's macho madness with Predator and Action Jackson on the big screen.  Mr. Weathers recently met with the wonderful Susan King from the L.A. Times for a piece which should be hitting early next week.  In addition to the usual pre-movie trivia, prizes and custom tee shirt giveaway customary to Dammaged Goods nights, I'm excited to announce that Predator Second Unit Director/Stunt Coordinator and Director of Action Jackson, Mr. Craig R. Baxley will be joining us to help introduce the films!  A third-generation filmmaker, Baxley has worked since 1971 as a Stunt Man, Driver, Coordinator and Director with such talents as Walter Hill and Warren Beatty on films ranging from The Warriors to Reds.

Before embarking on the tough, Mexican jungle location shoot of Predator, Baxley worked on long running action series The A-Team for it's 97 episode duration.  His first feature film credit as Director would be 1988's Action Jackson, the story of Detroit's Jericho Jackson, a police lieutenant who got busted down the ladder after nearly tearing the arm off a sexual offender whose dad just happens to be a high ranking automotive executive rubbing out the competition.  The flick starts off with some truly impressive stunts like a guy being set on fire, thrown through a window and falling from the top of an office building.  It's not only about the physical though as the flick is pretty funny and has a terrific supporting cast like Robert Davi as a strung out old friend, Sharon Stone as a trophy wife, singer Vanity as a drugged up singer, Back to the Future's Thomas F. Wilson as a smartass street cop, Bill Duke as Jackson's stern yet never shouting Captain and a surprisingly menacing Craig T. Nelson as villain Peter Dellaplane to make for a crazy and fun action flick when a hero could do a standing somersault over a speeding car.  Action fans will also spot familiar Asian dudes Al Leong and James Lew crashing into and kicking things.

Baxley's next directorial effort was 1990's cult hit I Come In Peace aka Dark Angel starring Dolph Lundgren, which is one of my all time favorite films.  How can you not love a flick about an alien drug dealer in Houston who gets people high on heroin then sucks endorphins out of their brains?!  Dolph plays a tough cop who does things his own way teamed up with a square, rule abiding FBI agent.  Together they mix it up with former decathlete Matthias Hues as the alien drug dealer through karate, gunplay, car chases and lots and lots of explosions set to Jan Hammer's awesome synth score.

After director Bruce Malmuth burned through half the budget of football star Brian Bosworth's film debut, Stone Cold, in just weeks, Baxley was called into finish the shoot.  What started as an attempt to be more than the typical one man army action flicks of the day, Heart of Stone was the story of a family man forced into going undercover to bring down the biker gang that killed his father.  There was a wife and kids and Malmuth spent 4 weeks shooting character scenes.  When said scenes weren't matching up and the budget dwindling, production was halted, Malmuth got the boot and Baxley came in to shoot stunts and explosions.  Already over budget and behind schedule, the family subplot was cut out and Stone Cold, a ridiculously fun if not intellectually challenging action cult classic, was born.  In the flick, Bosworth plays a macho yet funny cop who has a pet lizard and goes up against sneering and scary biker baddies Lance Henriksen and William Forsythe.  The flick struggled upon release but ended up one of the top selling titles on VHS for the year.

Also in my VHS collection is Deep Red, a made for TV sci-fi/noir/action flick from 1994.  Michael Biehn stars as burnt out private investigator Joe Keyes who gets caught up protecting a young girl infected with Deep Red, an alien substance that may or may not grant immortality, from an obsessed scientist.  It's reminiscent of The Terminator but given a moody and more sci-fi attitude as Baxley delivers a cool little flick that blends genres, complete with aliens fighting space prologue, Michael Biehn introspectively questioning the meaning of life and then using a flame thrower. 

From there, Baxley has directed volumes of television episodes, movies and mini-series including several based on the works of Stephen King.  Looking forward to hearing about his incredible career and working with Carl.

No comments:

Post a Comment