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Above the Law (1988)

R  |   |  Action, Crime, Drama  |  22 April 1988 (USA)
5.9
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Ratings: 5.9/10 from 20,661 users  
Reviews: 87 user | 34 critic

A former Special Operations Vietnam vet works as a Chicago cop and uncovers CIA wrongdoing.

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Title: Above the Law (1988)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Detective Lukich
...
Tony Salvano
...
Sara Toscani
Miguel Nino ...
Chi Chi Ramon
Nicholas Kusenko ...
FBI Agent Neeley
Joe Greco ...
Father Joseph Gennaro (as Joe V. Greco)
...
Nelson Fox
...
FBI Agent Halloran (as Gregory Alan-Williams)
...
Uncle Branca
Metta Davis ...
Rosa Toscani
Joseph F. Kosala ...
Lieutenant Strozah (as Joseph Kosala)
Ronnie Barron ...
CIA Bartender
Edit

Storyline

In Japan, the Sicilian martial arts expert Nicolo "Nico" Toscani is recruited by the CIA Special Agent Nelson Fox to join the Special Operations Forces in the border of the Vietnam and Cambodia. In 1973, Nico witnesses the torturer Kurt Zagon interrogating prisoners of war and he is disgusted and quits the CIA, returning to Chicago. Fifteen years later, Nico is married with a baby with his wife Sarah and they live in the same house of his mother. Nico is a tough and incorruptible narcotics detective of the Chicago Police Department very close to his partner and friend Delores 'Jacks' Jackson and his friend Detective Lukich. When Nico and Jacks investigate a drug traffic operation, they arrest the gang of the drug dealer Tony Salvano but they find that they are smuggling the plastic explosive C4 instead. However there is an interference of the FBI and Salvano and his partner are released by FBI Agent Neeley (Nicholas Kusenko) and the detectives are forbidden of proceed with the ... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He was a covert agent trained in Vietnam. He has a master 6th degree black belt in Aikido... and family in the Mafia. He's a cop with an attitude. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Release Date:

22 April 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Nico  »

Box Office

Budget:

$7,500,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$18,869,631 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(4 channels)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The sword-fighting sequence was staged using Steven Seagal's own martial arts students. See more »

Goofs

At the beginning of the market gunfight we could see Nico taking his white coat off in two shots. See more »

Quotes

Special Agent Neeley FBI: Listen Toscani, I want to congratulate you. You just made number 4 on the most wanted list.
Nico Toscani: Number 4? I wanna be number 1.
See more »

Connections

References Code of Silence (1985) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Seagal goes above the law in "Above the Law"
10 June 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Before he was "out for justice" on the mean Brooklyn streets and "under siege" by terrorists on a U.S. Navy battleship, he was above the law. Yes, I'm talking about that quick-fisted, pony-tailed martial arts hero Steven Seagal and his 1988 starring debut "Above the Law."

Though his career hasn't panned out the way this debut promised, it is nonetheless a dynamic introduction to the mysterious world of Seagal, who plays Nico Toscani, a Chicago cop who as a child took up the Japanese martial art of Aikido and was some time later recruited by the CIA for covert operations in Vietnam.

After witnessing the cruel torture and executions of some Vietnamese hostages by ruthless CIA chemical interrogator Zagon (Henry Silva) and his cohorts, who also seem in on a secret drug running operation, he walks away from his career and retires to life as a cop on the streets of Chicago with wife Sara (Sharon Stone) and partner Jacks (Pam Grier). Things get dicey when two suspects collared in a recent drug bust are allowed to go free. The department silences concerns by announcing that the two men are part of a huge undercover investigation. But Nico doesn't buy it.

He suspects that something bigger is underway, and he's right. It isn't long before he stumbles onto a covert drug running operation right under his nose that involves his old CIA buddies, a local drug kingpin, some corrupt FBI officials and old nemesis Zagon, who is also involved in a political assassination plot. So Toscani, Jacks, and his Aikido fists of fury go to work on some really bad guys.

Directed by Andrew Davis and co-produced by Seagal (who also shares a story credit), "Above the Law" promises a mean and gritty portrait of law enforcement with the magnetic screen presence of the charismatic (if not necessarily wooden) Seagal in the lead. The picture opens with some black & white home movie footage of Toscani and accompanying narration, showing us this mysterious man's history. Seagal, who became the first American to open an Aikido dojo in Japan and at the time held a sixth-degree black belt in the art, was a world-renowned security expert before he started appearing in the movies and snapping necks, bending limbs, and using his opponents' own momentum and strength against them.

"Above the Law" does has some script problems, but it's balanced out by some rough & tumble action shoot-outs and nasty fights where Seagal throws his opponents into things and breaks and twists limbs 180 degrees in the opposite direction. But that is what his chosen sport Aikido does, as it employs joint locks, pins, and other methods meant to redirect and utilize an attacker's own strength and power against him. And Seagal does it perfectly.

Is "Above the Law" a sensational debut for Steven Seagal? Certainly, at least for his loyalists. As a casual fan, he has certainly made better movies since then and improved his "acting" skills but what will always dazzle us are the nifty arm-twists and breaks that prove he is a master of his Aikido craft.

8/10


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