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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Born in Palermo, Sicily and raised in Chicago, Nico Toscani (Steven
Seagal) is a martial arts hero in serious trouble...
When his eyes are about to be opened, he is recruited into the CIA by a crazy drunk guy named Nelson Fox...
Toscani holds the record for having more relatives under federal indictment than any other cop in the city... He hates the cocaine lawyers and the bad weather, but he is a loving husband and a caring father with no sins to confess...
Nico is a narcotics cop who can't swallow his pride... He smashes crack dealers' faces into their cocaine mirrors, and wiretaps bad guys' phones without asking for permission... He assaults his opponents in bars and starts putting them in orbit... Nico wants to be number one on the most wanted list...
Toscani makes a big drug bust, and discovers some plans to kill a senator who can't be bought out... He stands against a psychopathic leader who have used his 'little beauties' many times to extract information...
'Above the Law' is the first Steven Seagal movie which reveals the chilling truth about a powerful institution always political, largely ineffective and frequently corrupt...
This was Steven Seagal's first movie and pretty much summed up the way
his films were going to go: marital arts-crime stories with overly
despicable villains and our hero saving the women by out-fighting
everyone. Jean Van Damme and others followed with the same recipe
which, by and large, has been pretty successful.
Before I saw this, I had read national critics blasting Seagal's acting talents but that was unfair; he's not a bad actor. It was also a surprise to see Sharon Stone playing a nice role and without makeup! That certainly changed quickly with her Basic Instinct-type persona.
It was fun to see Henry Silva again. As a kid growing up in the '50s and '60s, I used to see Silva on television a lot. He always played a bad guy, and played the part well....as he still does.
Overall, a decent action flick but not one of Segal's more memorable films. He make a big upgrade with his next film, "Hard To Kill."
Steven Seagal made his debut with this lean and mean actioner filmed on
location in Chicago(My Hometown)Illinois.
Seagal is Nico a Chicago-Cop with a bad past.Once a CIA operative in Vietnam who quit over a torture loving Boss Zagon(Henry Silva)from hell.Cut to the present where his past rears up to bite him in the ass In the form of a Drug Dealer he is trying to put away with Ties to Zagon.As a mini war erupts on the Streets of Chi-Town.
This is Seagal at his best.He starts with the pain right away in a nifty scene that recalls 1985's Underatted Chuck Norris Actioner Code of Silence.(also Filmed in Chi Town)From there on its shoot outs,Bone-breaking's,Heady car chases,and Intrigue.Just when you think its gonna let up it starts roaring again.
Seagal actually does a neat Job channeling Dirty Harry.He's engaging,intimidating,and funny.Veteran actress Pam Grier is along for the ride as his partner.What more can I say?She's Pam Grier!Sharon Stone Pops up as his wife displaying some early acting chops.The always fine Henry Silva adds the slimy menace needed.He very cool.The rest of the supporting cast is just as good.Michael Rooker pops up for a blink and you'll miss him cameo.
Andrew Davis(Code of Silence,The Fugitive) gives the movie style,pace,and gets the best acting out of Seagal yet.At least until they re-teamed for the even-better Under Siege.
It's near the end of the 80's, and this movie "Above the Law" will be
one of Steven Seagal's starter hit. It was not a sleeper from the
beginning. The action there was almost non-stop, I liked the part where
one of the thugs had a machete, that was used against him, that person
ended up sliced and diced Seagal style.
Unlike those thugs there, the real deal were inside law enforcement, and that's where the fun begins. Pam Grier as Jacks maintains her toughness in this movie as she did in other blaxportaion films. Gregory Alan Williams was there way before "Baywatch", Sharon Stone, way, way, way, before "Total Recall" and "Basic Instinct".
Seagal character was just as a juggernaut in this movie as he was in "Hard to Kill". He was still driving the car with its front wheels shot out, and he shrugs off the cocaine murder attempt by one of the rogues. Everything turns out well in this movie, and the reviews should go well with the fans as well. Rating 3 out of 5 stars.
This was Steven Seagal's best movie. It was the only one where he focuses mainly on his outstanding Aikido ability. His fight's always look real in this movie and it's not overdone with automatic weapons like his latter films. The story is very believable because the CIA was covertly involved in illicit operations in Vietnam and Cambodia and Laos. One of the best scenes (martial arts) is a simple one: In the middle of the movie he chases a suspect (thug) through the streets to finally catch up with him and get some information out of him . A friend of the thug is walking towards them and says to Seagal " get your hands off him" or words to that effect. Seagal walks casually towards him and drops him with a very realistic punch to the stomach. Fight over. If you've ever done Martial arts you know that the punch was realistic. Seagal can really do that. Watch this scene and believe me, it's how it really is after practicing to Seagal's level (many, many years).
Above The Law(called Nico in Norway)is Steven Seagal`s first film, and it`s still a good film. Steven Seagal plays Nico Toscani, a hard-boiled cop, who`ll do anything to get the bad guys. On a bust, Nico discovers C-4, with which he is familiar with from his own past as a CIA-agent in Kambodja. The FBI drop the case against the man, who had C-4 in his car, but Nico continues to investigate on his own. Above The Law is good, violent and oldfashioned fun, and is definetely worth a look for the hardcore actionfan or Seagal-fan. 8/10
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.
I was watching television the other day, just flipping through the channels
when I came upon 'Above the Law'. I hadn't seen this movie in years, and was
anxious to watch it again. I must say that I was impressed. I believe it
deserves no less than a 9/10. Why? The martial arts in superb as well as the
action in general. Moreover, this movie operates on many different levels of
M.A. Rogers, in his commentary believes that Seagal's behavior contradicts his affirmation that nobody is above the law. This is not so. I believe that his actions are morally justified, inasmuch as there exists in the plot-line no other way for justice to be done. If the police force is corrupt and the C.I.A. are up to no good (not to mention the usually scum), what is one to do? It is therefore up to Toscani (Seagal) to take on a 'poetic license' of sorts and bring the transgressors back to justice.
M.A. Rogers, however, cogently points out in his commentary, that Seagal portrays a double-edged character. On the one hand he is easily angered, while on the other he puts out this "Mr. Cool" who is rife with obnoxious comments. This is why the film does so well. Important also is the scene in which his wife (Sharon Stone) pleads with him. She asks him to put down his 'pride'. She loves him because he is not like other men, but begs him to think of his family and back down. One cannot help, upon viewing this scene, to think of book six of "The Iliad" by Homer, where Andromache pleads with Hektor to stay in Troy for her sake and for the sake of his new-born son Astyanax. The emotion of the scene in Above the Law is heightened because of Seagal's show of restrained emotion: one isn't convinced that he is a 'family man'. He is. His stern face shows that he is a hard man, with a burden on his shoulders and an obligation to save his society as well as his family from an ailment that abounds everywhere. There is lots more to say on the matter, but I will leave that to another commentary. If you are at all a fan of the genre, than you must see it, even if you care only for the action. But I must make it clear that this movie is just as deep and sophisticated as any current drama. One just has to look beyond the surface.
Michael W. Helfield
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Good action flick that's entertaining with a fun performance from Steven Seagal. The main villain is very menacing and there is some great action scenes. Now this isn't anything spectacular but it does entertain you while your watching it. The direction by Andrew Davis is pretty good it has a pretty good pace and had some pretty cool shots as well. The opening is way cool and the story is pretty interesting but the clichés are there but who cares!!! it's an action film!!!!!. Put your brain in check and you will enjoy yourself. There is a bit of blood and violence we get lots of harsh bloody beatings, bloody gunshot wounds, and some people get cut up very badly. The acting is fine. Steven Segal is great here he is a VERY good action star and was just plain fun to watch. Sharon Stone is STUNNINGLY GORGEOUS but wasn't a well known actress at this time when she was on screen she did fine. and had decent chemistry with Segal. Pam Grier is great here and was pretty good looking , plus she had good chemistry with Segal Henry Silva is great and menacing as the main villain overall well worth the watch! *** out of 5
I saw this movie once it came out in the 80's and recently I got on DVD for
fun and I realized it was a terrific movie.
Nico Toscani has done it all, Martial Arts, CIA, has a mafia family and now
is happily married, has a new born son and has a partner he can talk naughty
to in front of his wife. Whilst getting his young cousin out of a bar her
boyfriend immediately tells Nico of a deal about to take place. Nico follows
up on that tip and finally finds out that the guy he arrests is involved
with the FBI. He gets a warning to back off from their turf, but Nico is
consistent when the local priest is murdered. Seems the local priest wasn't
supposed to be killed but another priest who was hiding in the basement was
to die due to information confessed to him from someone. Nico discovers that
a group of assassins are in town. When his family is put in danger he goes
on a rampage.
Note: Did anyone notice the scene where Nico is a fighting a bunch of guys in an Indian's guys store and one minute he is wearing leather boots and when he jumps out of the window he is wearing a black pair of sneakers? Oh and if I am not wrong Someone said Steve instead of Nico when the FBI starts searching Nico's house. A great movie to watch!
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