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Overall Rating

Awesome: 11.11%
Worth A Look50%
Average: 19.44%
Pretty Bad: 5.56%
Total Crap: 13.89%

2 reviews, 24 user ratings

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Above the Law
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Slyder

"A Reasonable Debut"
4 stars

Steven Seagal officially started his career with this movie. Heíd been previously credited though, for his martial arts expertise in a now forgotten John Frankenheimer movie called The Challenger. Above The Law is basically a low-budget action flick, filled with suspense, a somewhat predictable plot and some pretty cool fight scenes. And it is one of the few viewable movies that Seagal has. It is said that the story that depicts here is based on real events that Seagal had experienced in his life. Director Andrew Davis, whoís a major player in this film for co-writing the script and producing the film with Seagal, as well as directing it, is the main reason why this film is mostly viewable.

The film is the story of a Chicago detective Nico Toscani (Seagal) that dates back to the early 70ís when he started studying Aikido, a type of martial arts style, and then into his experience in Vietnam, as an undercover CIA agent. Itís here where we meet baddie Kurt Zagon (Henry Silva), and Nicoís ďfriendĒ Nelson Fox (Chelcie Ross). Zagon tries to torture a Vietnamese to talk using some gruesome tactics, but Nico beats the shit out of him, calls him a barbarian and quits the CIA. Now a cop as we shift to present times, and thanks to a snitch, he busts a drug lord Bautista Salvano (Daniel Faraldo) and finds in his stash a shipment of C4 explosive. So now he must investigate where did he get the explosives and what is Salvano really up to, despite the setbacks and the serious involvement of the CIA and the FBI on this matter as well as the constant threats to his family. All of this of course, leads to a murder plot in which Salvano and his CIA buddies are a part of. Helping him is his partner Delores Jackson (Pam Grier) and Lukich (Ron Dean)

The filmís upside: Some parts of the plot, which I found pretty clever, and interesting, and I guess it must be since the only professional there is Andrew Davis, and his skill can be seen here. The action scenes were all right, and the fight scenes were pretty cool, which is the sole reason why I used to love Seagal back then when I was just a brat. Interestingly enough, Seagal is the only martial artist that Iíve seen (and Iíve seen lots of martial arts movies) where he uses his surroundings as a weapon to throw his opponents at, like walls, windows, pop machines, stands, etc. Not that I have a problem with it (I think it kicks ass), but just to note that Seagal is a quite beast when he fights.

The downside: Though the action scenes were all right, in some parts they were pretty dull and poorly made for most of the time that looks like they filmmakers forgot to hire a production designer. This is also evident in most parts of the film. The scene where Nico is on the roof of Salvanoís runaway car is laughably uninteresting since it feels more like a tour in the streets of Chicago. And for the look of it, they didnít use any stationary cameras for additional exterior shots since for most of the time the fucking camera is just inside the car and nothing more. It was annoying to watch during most of the time. That technical flaw particularly hampers many key action scenes, especially the one in that parking lot, where the car chase (once more), drags and is never exciting, even though it should. The rest of the production design is equally cheap; the settings look pretty crappy, and the ID card from that Senator aide looks so fake its funny. You can tell that this film was made with a tight budget, and itís probable that although some people will nod and move on (like I did), others will laugh at it. The ending part was unfortunately predictable the moment that you take into account that Nico is a martial artist and the other guys arenít.

And of course, Steven Seagal canít act, though he tries a lot, especially since this film is kind of based on his real life. But he still canít act. Pam Grier is all right as Jax, and this movie actually help revive her flagging career somewhat, and Ron Dean as Lukich isnít also bad. Henry Silva as Zagon is pretty memorable, especially with that Army knife that he terrorizes his victims with.

In the end, the entire credit as to why this film works (somewhat) goes to Andrew Davis, since heís the one thatís making the effort to try and make Steven Seagal act, to make his actors act, and try to make this film work. Had another director made this movie (or by Seagal himself, which I thank God that didnít happen after seeing the shitful On Deadly Ground) I seriously doubt it wouldíve been the film that Iím seeing here. All in all, a good movie to waste the time away; I know itís formula but hey, at least youíll be entertained in some way, especially thanks to Seagalís martial antics. (3.5Ė5)

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originally posted: 07/05/02 12:04:39
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User Comments

11/10/11 matthew thompson dalldorf Classic action/martial arts film! 5 stars
7/10/11 ____ I was used to ponytailed guys being villains 3 stars
5/30/09 Josie Cotton is a goddess Seagal's best 4 stars
6/02/07 Frankie ALDO, you are dead on right! Segal runs like a little girl...LOL! 2 stars
8/24/06 Samantha Smith well i absolutely love that movie. even though it is his first movie that came out!!!! 5 stars
5/14/06 ALDO hated this but i loved to see seagal run like a girl with his hands flopping & shaking LOL! 2 stars
4/28/06 Sugarfoot An enjoyable martial arts actioner, Seagal is actually decent. 3 stars
3/28/06 Brian Meyer Segal's first film. More plot. less punch. But I like it! 5 stars
2/13/06 Anthony Not a bad one 3 stars
8/26/05 ES The movie that tells you all you need to know about Seagal = bad movies all around 1 stars
10/22/04 Steve Michaud As good a debut as you would expect from a martial arts master who can't act 3 stars
8/07/04 Ryan Crowley This is the best movie of all time. On the level of "The Godfather" and "Citizen Kane" 5 stars
2/19/03 Matthew Jones Not too bad, but he's made better. 4 stars
7/06/02 JussMatt It's sad to say this is one of his best films.... oh well 3 stars
7/05/02 Charles Tatum Seagal has never been above average 3 stars
11/28/00 Cristopher Revilla ok, just watchi it for the kickass martial arts, not for anything else 3 stars
10/14/00 doc rogers Good film for Seagal, martial arts and action fans 4 stars
7/05/99 Ben Leostein Rating: **Ĺ (out of ****) Category: "Above Average" 4 stars
4/20/99 Lucas jackson this movie is one fucking piece of shit,if you like this movie go to hell!! 1 stars
2/19/99 charhas One of the few films to use real martial arts. Lots of low budget touches, but the fights! 4 stars
1/11/99 Joe Mama pony-tailed sissy-boy looks too fat to be a ninja! 1 stars
11/23/98 Lord Of The Dunce Early Seagal. Bad 80's soundtrack, unknown Sharon Stone and Pam Grier!! 1 stars
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  02-Jul-1988 (R)


  02-Feb-1989 (M)

Directed by
  Andrew Davis

Written by
  Andrew Davis
  Steven Pressfield

  Steven Seagal
  Ron Dean
  Daniel Faraldo
  Pam Grier
  Henry Silva
  Chelcie Ross

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