Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
After years upon years of watching Steven Seagal movies, watching the 'Today You Die's' and the 'Attack Forces' and the 'Into the Sun's' that are almost legendary in the lore of the cinematic bad movie atmosphere, it is time to jump in the time machine and revisit the movies that actually made Steven Seagal a movie star, because if you came into this game late or were born around 1990, you might be baffled how this could have ever happened in the first place after watching something like 'Attack Force'. Were you one of these late comers, you would think, and correctly so, that anybody could mumble their lines and get a stuntman to do just about everything for them. But you have to go back in time, kids, to see why Steven Seagal earned the right to mumble his lines and have a skinny stuntman do everything for him. Like walk up a flight of stairs. Seriously, that actually happened. So let's begin where it all began, where a young, slender, handsome Stevie was speaking his words semi-intelligibly, working with a top flight director in Andrew Davis… nothing but mad love to Keoni Waxman and all… and doing his own stunts. Remember, this is the guy that saw Kelly LeBrock in a movie, decided he wanted her, went and got her, then eventually left her. So my man had to have had something going on back in the day.

Seagal opens our film with narration as the character of Nicolo Toscani, an Italian immigrant who subsequently went to Japan to train under the masters in the art of Aikido, eventually got drafted into the CIA, didn't like what he saw there and eventually became an out of control Chicago Cop. When I say this cat is 'out of control' he is seriously that guy that doesn't play by the rules. Even the basic tenants of proper police procedure are foreign to this guy. In this movie you WILL NOT see Nico read somebody their rights, use his handcuffs because the dead and unconscious don't need them, or ask permission for ANYTHING… like illegal wiretaps and sting operations and whatnot. What you will see is Nico punch poor FBI agents in the face who are desperately trying to do their thankless jobs and violate enough civil rights that would fill up an LAPD log book.
Back to the FCU
Let Chris know how Wrong He Is
Don't Be Square...
Like Totally Twisted Flix!

Now we can settle into our story. Kind of. First thing we need to see is some Nico badassery where he goes into a bar full of thugs to retrieve his wayward cousin. About this… girlfriend is in bed with her boyfriend, under her own volition, and yet Nico beats this guy near to death. For being with his girl. That's not cool. I'd actually say that kind of action was 'Above the Law', and it was, but the violation of this kids civil rights was kind of necessary because this clown gave Nico the lowdown on a drug deal happening, and now Nico and his partner Delores (Pam Grier), affectionately called 'Jax' can do some illegal wiretapping and bust some more heads, all of which is also Above the Law. Note that Jax keeps telling us she's due to be off of street duty in a weeks' time. I sure wish she'd stop telling us this.

One thing you should know is that when I saw 'Above the Law' 27 years ago, I had no idea how over-plotted it was because there sure is a lot of stuff going on in this movie. But ultimately all you really need to know it that Henry Silva is in this movie, and by default of him being Henry Silva he's the bad guy and he and Nico have a spotty history… something to do with that CIA we mentioned earlier. Note that Silva's character was actually playing by the rules… which Nico, not surprisingly, refused to abide by. Eventually I'm guessing Nico will need to beat this guy to death. And that's really all you need to know, convoluted plot be damned.

Ah… 'Above the Law' is a like a crisp breath of fresh air on a spring day. Now watching it again almost three decades later, it probably isn't nearly as good as I remember it being, and I'm not quite sure what Seagal had over other late 80's, early 90's potential action heroes such as Jeff Speakman, Jeff Wincott or Thomas Ian Griffin but he's the one still standing… so to speak. It does help 'Above the Law' that Andrew Davis was directing who was a bit of master making this kind of the stuff back in the day, lest we forget his amazing handling of Chuck Norris in arguably Chuck's best movie 'Code of Silence', though I can't imagine anybody seriously arguing otherwise, and of course 'The Fugitive' which will come a few years later.

But let's not sell Steven Seagal short. While Seagal might not have been, and still is not much of an actor, the man does have some presence and probably most important, dude has confidence. Because of his limitations as an actor, this overpowering confidence he exudes has to be all Steve, which probably makes him a pain in the ass to deal with in real life, but it sure did make him fun to watch back in those early 90's action movies. Heck, I didn't even notice until it was pointed out to me many years later that he runs funny, because I was probably to afraid that he'd jump through the screen and beat my ass and violate my civil rights. And when we tell you that Nico didn't play by the rules, he really didn't play by the rules. The truth of the matter, if you really want to break it down which of course is not recommended, is that Nico is a fairly awful person and the worst pretend cop since Havey Keitel's Bad Lieutenant.

Did we enjoy our revisit with Nico Toscani and Above the Law? Heck yes we did. Over plotted and featuring a character who probably should've been carted off to jail after any number of his gross legal violations, it's good to see Steven Seagal the way we remember him. Running, fighting, and even walking up flights of stairs. Ah… those were the days.
Real Time Web