Above the Law (1988)
By: Devon B. on June 23, 2013 | Comments
Warner Home Video | Region Free | 1.85:1, 1080p | English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 | 99 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Andrew Davis
Starring: Steven Seagal, Pam Grier, Sharon Stone, Henry Silva
Screenplay: Steven Pressfield, Ronald Shusett, Andrew Davis
Country: USA
External Links
IMDB Purchase YouTube
Above the Law is Steven Seagal's first vehicle, but I'm not sure if it's the one that set the precedence for having an implied "Steven Seagal is" in front of the title. The name is clearly meant to refer to some corrupt individuals Stevie has the misfortune of dealing with, but it might also apply to the man himself. I mean, Stevie goes straight in to a bar and picks a fight, and also conducts illegal wire taps, so his character thinks he's a little bit above the law, or at least entitled to break the law for the greater good. Perhaps the title is going for a deeper meaning than might first be assumed, presenting the idea that even those that seek to uphold the law can be seduced by the power of rising above its reach? We all know Stevie's a deep and meaningful guy, so I think I'm on to something here, and since he had a hand in the story it's possible Stevie was sneaking in messages even before most people had a chance to see him on screen.

Speaking of his screen debut, Above the Law starts with some of Stevie's real childhood photos and narration about who Stevie is before moving on to an aikido demonstration. After proving that Stevie was once a kid and that aikido experts are not to be trifled with, the film moves to some CIA guys in Vietnam. Nico (Steven Seagal) is one of these CIA people, and he instantly encounters corruption. He won't stand for it and when he tries to put a stop to the situation a dude attacks him and gets Steven Seagaled for his trouble. This was way before being Steven Seagaled meant that some other guy would step in, this was back when it meant Stevie was personally gonna fuck your shit the fuck up. And thus, an action hero was born. Flash forward to the "present" day, or the distant past as we now know it, and Nico's a tough cop who's lucky enough to have Pam Grier for a partner. The film follows Nico's tough cop antics for awhile, but then, wouldn't you know it, corruption rears its ugly head again.

Above the Law isn't Stevie's best, but it's heaps better than most of his Direct to Video work. People used to current Stevie will get a few surprises because he uses his normal speaking voice and has real hair, but this film also laid the groundwork for a lot of Stevie's later films. Stevie already likes to make inappropriate sexual comments, has mafia people in his family and runs funny, just like he would do later in his career. Except maybe for the running, which maybe he should've done a bit more of even though he looked ridiculous while doing it.

The film is dated and overlong, probably needing about 10 to 15 minutes cut. Some of the run time can probably be attributed to this being Stevie's first film and the audience needing time to get to know him and what he was capable of (beyond running in a silly manner), but Above the Law isn't as streamlined as Out for Justice or even Marked for Death. Above the Law is as subtle as can be expected from an 80s action movie, with bad, awkward jokes and the most obvious stunt dummy I've seen outside of a Herschell Gordon Lewis movie. Sharon Stone is given little to do as Stevie's wife, but at least Grier gets in on the action at times. Grier instantly improves any movie she's in (though even she couldn't save some of them like Screaming Blacula or whatever the fuck that worthless Blacula sequel was called), so her presence is always welcome. Also look quick for a glimpse of Michael Rooker of Mallrats fame playing a bar patron.

Above the Law has most of the ingredients for a successful Stevie movie, and is really only lacking the outright craziness Stevie we all have come to know and love.
The Disc
Grain is present, and sometimes heavy, and there're a few specks and spots, but mostly this is a clean, solid transfer. There's a little bit of crush and edge enhancement, but for what this is the movie looks good, and even pops occasionally. The English audio is available in 5.1 or 5.1 TrueHD mixes, but not the original stereo mix (boo!). The TrueHD mix is naturally clearer, and is pretty front heavy so perhaps it's not that far off the original audio (yay?). There're also lossy French, Spanish, German and Italian 5.1 dubs. A trailer is the only extra feature on offer.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
While the film could use some tightening, it's not a bad effort, and paved the way for future greatness (which in turn paved the way for utter insanity). The Blu-ray may be barebones, but it's also bargained priced. I would love to see a documentary about Stevie's wacky career thus far, and his first film seems as good a place as any for that sort of thing to turn up, but 'twas not to be.
comments powered by Disqus

>SHARK WEEK (2012) DVD Review

>DANGEROUS MEN (2005) Blu-ray Review

>UNIVERSAL SOLDIER (1992) Blu-ray Review

>THE LAST WARRIOR (2000) Blu-ray Review

>DIAMOND DOGS (2007) DVD Review

>BONE TOMAHAWK (2015) Blu-ray Review

>LET US PREY (2014) Blu-ray Review

>MACHETE (2010) Blu-ray Review

>THE MECHANIK (2005) Blu-ray Review

>DIRECT ACTION (2004) DVD Review

>NIGHTCRAWLER (2014) Blu-ray Review

>MOSQUITOMAN (2005) DVD Review

>CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1980) Blu-ray Review

>POLTERGEIST (2015) Blu-ray Review

>DRIVEN TO KILL (2009) Blu-ray Review

Post Apocalypse Discussion Forum
Waxwork Records by MaxTheSilent
Phantasm V??? by McSTIFF
Inside (└ l'intÚrieur) by MaxTheSilent
Red Christmas - new local horror by brett garten
Zack Snyder's JUSTICE LEAGUE (2017) by Rip
BLAIR WITCH (2016) by Dr. Obrero
18 Guests, 0 Users
Latest Comments
Last 20 Comments
Most Read Articles
CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1980) Blu-ray Review 1. CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST (1980) Blu-ray Review
POLTERGEIST (2015) Blu-ray Review 2. POLTERGEIST (2015) Blu-ray Review
MOSQUITOMAN (2005) DVD Review 3. MOSQUITOMAN (2005) DVD Review
DRIVEN TO KILL (2009) Blu-ray Review 4. DRIVEN TO KILL (2009) Blu-ray Review
NIGHTCRAWLER (2014) Blu-ray Review 5. NIGHTCRAWLER (2014) Blu-ray Review
Contact Us
Australian Horror News and Reviews
Digital Retribution aims to bring you the latest news and reviews from the local genre scene. If you see or hear something that might be of interest to our readers, please get in touch!

For promotional and advertising inquiries, feedback, requests, threats or anything else, visit our Contact Page.