Directed by: A'Ali de Sousa
Starring: Robert D Parham, Fred Williamson, James E. Meyer, Adi Alfa, Natasha Dee Davis
Jackson Bolt is an ex-kickboxer turned cop, a police detective who's got a reputation for being a loose cannon who plays by his own rules. He seems to be angry at the world - his ex-wife, his partner, the crooks he's constantly chasing and even his psychiatrist. However when he's framed for the murder of his partner, Jackson must swallow his pride and accept the help of those still close to him while trying to clear his name.
The film Jackson Bolt is a little unfocussed, definitely rough around the edges, but at its heart is a very entertaining film.
Jackson himself, played by Robert D Parham, is a caricature of every "loose cannon" cop you can think of, a cross between the Simpsons' McBain and Sledge Hammer (look it up). When we first meet him, he's walking into a bank filled with armed robbers while arguing on the phone with his ex-wife, Darla. This scene actually reminded me of another rogue cop movie, Black Rose, starring Alexander Nevsky, who has a similar approach to dealing with bank robbers!
Jackson is angry about everything but can't say why. He also has severe migraines when he uses his gun, which he can't explain either. In the meantime, he's managed to push everyone away from him - his partner hates him, his captain hates him, even his shrink (Fred Williamson) isn't too impressed with his unwillingness to undergo therapy. What's refreshing however is that even though no one likes him in the police department, no one buys the frame-up and are more concerned about Jackson breaking any laws while trying to prove his innocence.
Meanwhile, there is a subplot involving a down and dirty pimp called Jimmy and two of his girls. One of them is murdered (probably by Jimmy), so the other, Sky, takes her dead friend's idea to have Jimmy killed by a paid assassin. This little side-step is pretty interesting. James E Meyer is suitably creepy as Jimmy and there's some sympathy for Sky's predicament.
There's not much in the way of subtlety or nuance to the film, or to Jackson himself. For example, at one point Jackson decides he needs to get a peek inside a suspicious briefcase belonging to the bad guys. His solution is just to burst into the bad guy's office and try and snatch the briefcase and run off with it. A plan which, by the way, fails spectacularly, but is great fun to watch!
What the film lacks in subtlety and nuance however is made up for with a plethora of action sequences. These are well handled although some of the cast seem like they are holding a weapon for the very first time. Robert Parham himself handled the fight choreography and he gives himself a lot to do throughout the film. The fight moves used in the film are down and dirty street fighting with a smattering of decent kicks thrown in.
There are plenty of people willing to get a piece of Jackson, including a bunch of burly women in a biker bar - which as it happens is my second favourite scene in the film. It's a great knockdown sequence which turns out to be Jackson's audition for an underground kickboxing tournament.
My favourite sequence features a bunch of heavies arriving at the hospital Jackson is convalescing in. There are definite shades of Hard Boiled here albeit on a much smaller budget but its another well staged action sequence.
One of the film's many strong points is the involvement of Fred Williamson. I had assumed that his presence would amount to a short cameo and I was initially disappointed to seeing him cast at the psychiatrist. How on earth was he going to kick ass in that role? After his initial scene I thought that would be the end of his involvement in the film so I was really happy to see more of him later on, and not only that but get involved in a decent action sequence as well. The way he disarms one of the thugs is just genius.
Jackson Bolt is a low budget film and that will turn a lot of people off. However the production values here are for the most part pretty sound and it has quite a large cast of characters and lots of different locations, which makes a refreshing change from all those movies where the cast run up and down the same corridor for most of the running time! Its a very ambitious film and it works more often than it doesn't. It's one main sticking point however is the script, which as I mentioned at the top seems unfocused, a bit of a shaggy dog story taking in mind control devices and fight rigging and framing a cop for murder. However there is plenty to built upon here if they decide to push for a sequel and I for one will definitely look forward to it.
7 out of 10 (MikeOutWest)
JACKSON BOLT is scheduled for a US release in August 2018.