Lawless: Beyond Justice (2001)

TV Movie  |  R  |   |  Thriller, Drama  |  22 February 2001 (New Zealand)
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Two private investigators discover the truth behind a gangland drug deal gone wrong.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
John Lawless
Angela Marie Dotchin ...
Jodie Keane (as Angela Dotchin)
Lana Vitale
Andy Deakin
Dave Bruford (as Geoffrey Dolan)
Nat Joseph
Frankie Stevens ...
Phil Mayo
Des Wallace ...
Heavy Dude
Michael Toki-Pangari ...
Jason Hill ...
Kyle Vitale
Andrea Bruce ...
Detective Constable
Wesley Dowdell ...
Spotty Youth
Phillip Spencer Harris ...
Scott Kirby (as Philip Spencer-Harris)
Michelle Lafferty ...
Janice Kirby
Shelly Edwards ...
Sarah (as Shelley Edwards)


Two private investigators discover the truth behind a gangland drug deal gone wrong.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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independent film | See All (1) »


Thriller | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexual content and some violence




Release Date:

22 February 2001 (New Zealand)  »

Also Known As:

A törvényen túl  »

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User Reviews

Not what I expected...but better because of it.
16 April 2012 | by (Waterloo, Iowa) – See all my reviews

Beyond Justice has the look and feel of a TV movie, albeit one from New Zealand. So, if you're looking for a fix of sex and violence like you find in low budget, direct-to-video action flicks in America, that's not what you'll get here. What it lacks in cheap thrills, though, it more than makes up for with smarter-than-expected writing, an appealing cast and mostly effective direction. I rented this because I was in the mood for some trashy fun and was pleasantly surprised to get something a few cuts above that. This is basically the Kiwi version of McMillan and Wife or one of those other TV movie mystery series from the 1970s. Which isn't at all a bad thing, just know you won't find a bunch of pointless fight scenes and gratuitous nudity if you watch this.

As a sequel to Lawless, this film finds disgraced cop John Lawless (Kevin Smith) and his pretty and determined partner Jodie Keane (Angela Dotchin) in business for themselves as private investigators. When an American plunges from the roof of a parking garage and is run over by a car, which is a really arresting scene and a great way to kick things off, Lawless and Keane are hired by his beautiful wife (Jennifer Rubin) to find out the reason for her husband's apparent suicide. That leads to nightclub owner Phil Mayo (Frankie Stevens) and his world of internet porn. With the support of Lawless and Keane's right hand man, Andy (Bruce Hopkins), the mystery deepens into international drug smuggling, secret sex, rape and pipe bombs. Lawless also finds himself falling in love with the dead man's wife, but what will he do when he uncovers far more than she wants?

Aside from a sequence where Lawless takes the grieving widow out on his boat to cruise around the bay, which is awkward and makes Lawless seem much skeevier than he is, director Geoffrey Cawthorn does a very nice job of handling a fairly involved plot and balancing the need to feature both Kevin Smith and Angela Dotchin, whom U.S. audiences will most likely recognized from Xena: Warrior Princess. Lawless is clearly the star of the show, but writer Gavin Strawhan also nicely gives Keane a sizable role by pairing her with Andy as the superior in that relationship. There's some genuine mystery to Beyond Justice and the ending is not at all what you might guess at the beginning. I was impressed with this story and the way it was told, though my expectations may have been low because I thought this was going to be nothing but guns and boobs.

Kevin Smith is piece of beefcake who looks more like a working man than a model and he plays Lawless well as a skilled but impulsive ex-cop. Angela Dotchin and Jennifer Rubin are the stars of this production, however, and that's without either of them taking off their clothes. Dotchin makes it easy to sympathize with Keane, who has to deal both with the mystery and her often frustrating partner. Rubin has to reveal more and more of her character as the movie unwinds and manages to do it without making the audience feel like they've been conned. It feels like the person she plays at the start is the same as the person at the end, although her role in the story changes dramatically. Dotchin and Rubin are also quite attractive, but in contrasting ways. Dotchin is thoroughly cute, while Rubin projects a more sultry quality. Not to slight Smith or any of the other folks who were part of this production, but Dotchin and Rubin are what makes Beyond Justice worth watching.

I enjoyed this film enough that I'd like to see the other John Lawless flicks, which is about the highest praise I can give. It's not so good that I'll go out of my way to track them down. We are talking about New Zealand TV movies, after all. If I see either Lawless or Dead Evidence sitting on the shelf next time I'm in my video store, though, I'll definitely rent them.

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