A former Special Operations Vietnam vet works as a Chicago cop, and uncovers C.I.A. wrongdoing.A former Special Operations Vietnam vet works as a Chicago cop, and uncovers C.I.A. wrongdoing.A former Special Operations Vietnam vet works as a Chicago cop, and uncovers C.I.A. wrongdoing.
In Above the Law, Steven Seagal is the star of the movie. However, this is his first one. Seagal plays a Chicago cop who was recruited by the CIA in 1969 in Japan. In 1973, he was sent to Vietnam and while there, he witnesses a brutal torture of a Cambodian resident under the spell of a vicious man, (Henry Silva). Seagal's friend advises him to leave Vietnam and go home. 15 years later, Seagal is a Chicago policeman, working with a partner, (Pam Grier), who is retiring in a couple of months. When he learns that a major shipment is going down in Chicago, Seagal's character, Nico Toscani, finds out a cache of explosives. Things get worse after that. Toscani father's church is blown up and it's up to him to find out who is responsible for the bombing. This leads Seagal through a change of pace as he breaks the rule and risks his entire police career by trying to rights the wrongs.
Seagal does an impressive job of playing an main character who is believable. In some scenes, he knows how to act calm and play it straight. When it comes tot he action scenes, Seagal knows how to show off his martial arts skills. Most action actors tend to lost their character by putting too much emphasis on their skills. But not Seagal. He may be different than Charles Bronson or Clint Eastwood, but you got to give him credit for what does best. It's a shame that he wouldn't repeat the same thing twice because after he starred in Above the Law, Seagal starred in another film called Hard to Kill and Under Siege. His career then started to take a turn for the worse when he decided to drop out of Hollywood and starred in a number of bad action movies. Those ween't really worthy of his career, but Above the Law certainly shows what Seagal is meant on the big screen.
The supporting cast is also very good. Pam Grier, who was also a major star in the 1970's is very good and sort of surprising to see her starred along aside Seagal. Grier is very convincing as Seagal's partner. She is noticing just how his behavior is getting in the way of his police appearance.
The movie was directed by Andrew Davis, who also directed Code of Silence, which is, perhaps, the best Chuck Norris movie ever made. Davis certainly knows how to make a city story interesting. He photographed Chicago very clearly and very skillfully. When it comes the action scenes in this movie, Davis knows how to step back and let Seagal perform his fighting skills, which is pretty impressive. After he made Above the Law, Andrew Davis directed Seagal again in the 1992 action thriller, Under Siege. According to my perspective, I believe that with the teaming of Seagal and Davis being strong, I think that with the tools they have to make a decent action picture, they certainly do know how to make them exciting, not nauseating. It's rare to find a bonding between actor and director, especially in the action genre. Most action directors now don't really work together to make scenes seem exciting.
With the exception of Seagal's performance, Above the Law has a plot that is sort of complicated if you follow everything very carefully. But as an action movie, it is effective even when Seagal is on the big screen. This movie proves that he can act in character and even, if I dare to say so, out of character. He is that good. ★★★ 3 stars.
- Aug 31, 2014