Above the Law - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Above the Law Reviews

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½ November 8, 2016
11/7/2016: An ok movie at best. A few decent fight scenes though.
October 11, 2016
Bloated and formulaic cop drama, but the gritty realism of the story is the perfect platform for Seagal's natural charisma and makes way for bountiful action sequences.
August 15, 2016
Sergeant Nicolo "Nico" Toscani (Steven Seagal), a native of Palermo, Italy, is a detective in the Chicago Police Department's vice squad. At an early age he became interested in martial arts, and moved to Japan to study. In 1969, Nico was recruited into the CIA by Special Agent Nelson Fox (Chelcie Ross) and was involved in covert operations on the Vietnamese-Cambodian border during the Vietnam War in 1973. There, he became disgusted with Kurt Zagon (Henry Silva), who tortured prisoners. A stand-off occurred when Nico tried to stop a torture session, and he left the CIA. Nico returned to Chicago, joined the CPD, and got married. Nico and his new partner Detective Delores "Jacks" Jackson (Pam Grier), are now investigating a drug ring, and after busting two of the dealers, including Salvadorian drug dealer Tony Salvano, Nico finds C4 explosives. Shortly afterward, the men that Nico and Jacks arrested are released at the request of Federal officials, and Nico is asked to stand down. Later, the priest of Nico's parish is killed in an explosion during Mass. Fox calls Nico and tells him to move his family to a safer location, saying that Nico is in danger. Under pressure from the Feds, Nico is asked to turn in his badge. Nico eventually finds that the dealers he busted are linked to Zagon, who is still with the CIA, and who is accused of human rights violations by a Central American priest who was being sheltered by Nico's priest. While Zagon is torturing the priest, Nico bursts in and a gun battle ensues. Detective Lukich (Ron Dean) and Jacks are wounded during the shoot-out, and Nico has to flee. Senator Ernest Harrison is investigating Zagon's group to reveal their covert operations and drug dealing. When Nico finds out that Zagon killed the priest and is planning to kill Harrison, he goes after Zagon...

"Nico" or "Above The Law" was Steven Seagal´s breakthrough film and generated him a spot as the new action hero in Hollywood. I remember that I thought this was a cool new action star and I reckon at the age of 16 years old you have hardly developed a analytical sense of what actually works on the screen or not. Action movie or not. With that said I do look upon this movie a bit differently today, but when I saw it again the other week it does have a base that is not too shabby. Seagal is ok (compared to later in his career), Pam Grier is always good, nice to see a young Sharon Stone, Henry Silva is always good as a bad guy and director Andrew Davis, who directed Chuck Norris best film "Code of Silence" in 1985, knows how to do classic action vehicles and he also knows how to incorporate a city in to the storyline. The main problem with "Nico" is that the plot is not really clear, everything is a bit wishy washy and fragmented in my eyes. Steven Seagal shows off his skills and here we actually get to see him in action all the time. And not a stuntman doing his action sequences like in most of his films the past 15 years.. I bought a copy of the film at a fleemarket and to my surprise they had made some cuts in the final confrontation between Nico and Zagon in this version I got hold of. Cuts that was as well part of the version I saw in 1988. A clear minus in my eyes as I assumed these cut copies were dead and gone. Censorship is not something I support and never have. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times stated "It contains 50 percent more plot than it needs, but that allows it room to grow in areas not ordinarily covered in action thrillers." In a negative review, Hal Hinson of the Washington Post criticized it as "woefully short on originality." Trivia: A sequel was confirmed August 2nd 2016. Produced by Steven Seagal under his Steamroller productions. It is currently unknown if Andrew Davis will return to direct.
Super Reviewer
½ June 20, 2016
As a fan of action films, seeing the first starring role of any of the "action greats" is a must. This one does not disappoint. Seagal shows off his mastery of Akido in multiple scenes to great satisfaction. The script is decent, but like aa lot of action films in the 80s, focus was placed on the pure action and ass kicking rather than a gripping story.
May 4, 2016
Le film qui revela Steven Seagal. Pas son meilleur film mais suffisamment bourrin pour comprendre la suite de sa carriere.
March 7, 2016
What Bloodsport did for Jean Claude Van Damme, Above the Law did for Steven Seagal. Both films feature a form of introduction, as if it's not just an introduction of the characters in the film, but an introduction of the action star leading the film. You can picture the martial arts backgrounds explained in the films being the same as the backgrounds of the martial artists.
In his debut film, Steven Seagal plays his most familiar role, a cop with a mixed background of military and aikido, which is a theme for most Steven Seagal films.
But unlike the films he is known for in later years, this film is a nicely put together action thriller with a good plot and entertaining action sequences.
Directed by Andrew Davis, who previously made a similar cop film set in Chicago (like this film) with Chuck Norris called Code of Silence. In fact, if you watch both films, you'll notice that the soundtrack is exactly the same, but it doesn't ruin it. It even has the same actor playing the main villain, played brilliantly in both by Henry Silva.
Of course, this ain't an action classic like Die Hard or a classic martial arts film like Enter the Dragon, it's better than most action films of this kind, and it's one of the better Seagal films, especially compared to his later work, where you'll be most likely disappointed with if you watch one of them after watching this one.
½ February 6, 2016
The opening sequence with Seagal training in Japan looked like an awesome set up to a martial arts movie, but it quickly changed gears and turned into a really boring cop movie. I can't even remember if I finished this movie.
September 27, 2015
This is my first Seagal movie. He's actually a better actor than a lot of the other action stars. Though he runs like a 13-year old girl.
Nico stayed the same age from Vietnam to 1988. Holding the baby is awkward. Not the most climactic ending, but the film was watchable enough.
September 13, 2015
Seagal's first and his best movie. Tough, brutal and violent
with good performances from the supporting cast.
July 23, 2015
Above The Law helms Steven Seagal as a cop that won't back down from taking on a drug cartel after the FBI mysteriously orders him and his unit to back down. This is Seagal playing the tough, unstoppable force that made him an action star, but unlike many of his later films, he shows off some genuinely fine acting chops that shows a real drive and genuine concern for the issues explored in the film, and this film isn't just some dumb action-driven plot either. This film has a grounded plot that may seem cliche at first, but delves deep enough to feel justified and worth telling as something simple is revealed to be linked to so much more. Andrew Davis would go on to direct The Fugitive five years later, but his competence in filmmaking shines enough here, even if it isn't terribly memorable. It is one of Seagal's best films if that counts.
July 17, 2015
This one was weak. Mild build up, No pay-off.
March 25, 2015
Just a very good shoot em' up popcorn flick.
January 24, 2015
A fun movie. Is it good? No. But I had fun watching, and it was not a waste of time.
Super Reviewer
January 2, 2015
This is the best steven seagal movie and i think the 4 first movies he made was pretty good. After that it have been more and more worse movies from his side. They are watchable tho.
½ January 2, 2015
The acting may not be superior and the plot overused but if your a fan of action movies and Steven Seagal then it's a good watch.
October 12, 2014
Steven Seagals first film he wanders around breaking peoples faces,sharon stone plays his sookie wife,great support from grier and 80s slime Henry Silva,is it me or does everyone in this films universe drive around in town cars
August 11, 2014
The movie that introduced the world to Steven Seagal. That may leave a stain on this flick for all the people who have come to dislike the prick, and he is, but for 5 movies, starting with this one, I was a fan. Of course I was 10 and I was just happy my dad was letting me see an R-Rated movie(Actually, I think I may have seen this without his permission, shhhhh) This is the first in what I call the Nico Quadrilogy, even though the 3 that followed had no real connection to this other than Seagal is a one note actor with one character. He does that character really well as he was able to do it successfully for 5 movies. UNDER SEIGE being the fifth, but that character is at least slightly different from the NICOs. Seagal has been a mob enforcer(rumor), CIA black ops(rumor), security for high level public figures and dignitaries(sort of confirmed) and a homeless guy(confirmed for sure). But he is above all a martial artist schooled in the art of Aikido of which he is a 7th degree black belt. This, he is very good at which makes Above the Law and it's 3 non-sequel sequels so entertaining. They are bad, but the good bad. The 80's had Arnie and Sly, the early 90's had Seagal and Van Damme. Yeah the 80's got the better end of that bargain but still, fun stuff. Also has a very early performance by Sharon Stone and a wasted Pam Grier as Nico's partner. She should've got more badass things to do.
July 21, 2014
The first Seagal film, and a pretty decent one too!
June 18, 2014
También conocida como "Nico", esta es una película policiaca mediocre que introdujo al mundo a Steven Seagal (para bien o para mal) y con una Sharon Stone que pasa desapercibida.
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