Steven Seagal once said in an interview that he prefers action movies with an actual story to tell. It is true, action movies with a strong, coherent storyline and believable characters perform usually better at the box-office than big, loud one-dimensional blockbusters.
Above the law introduces Steven Seagal as a young fellow relocating to Japan to become a martial arts-expert in Aikido. Nice little touch, because the movie copies aspects of Seagal‘s real life. With a prologue such as this, you would expect a wave of spectacular fighting sequences, but nothing less is true.
The movie starts off nicely and does indeed present a few amusing action scenes along the way where Seagal can show off his lightning speed martial arts, but half-way through the movie comes to a sudden halt. Gone is the action and instead you are being subjected to a mundane life lesson of truth and justice.
Since none of the actors are any good, the story becomes uninteresting. Luckily, we are being treated to an ending that gives us a great action scene, but by then the damage has already been done.
As it goes with tough-guy action movies, there isn’t much acting to be had. Steven Seagal speaks with half a whisper as if he is suffering from a cold. He glances with cleft eyes, enough to make any Asian jealous. And he strikes down a nasty group of hoodlums with a single motion of his hand.
Grier is a nice change of pace from the rather stiff, martial arts-ponytail and brings a little emotion and dynamic to the foreground.
Also quite famous, but much less prominent to the story is Sharon Stone. The sexy blonde actress had only just begun her career, but did enjoy her breakthrough role one year earlier as a female reporter in Police academy 4. However, in this particular movie she is nothing more than the helpless victim begging to be saved.
Behind the camera we find director Andrew Davis who would reach the highest peaks of the Hollywood-mountain in the early ’90s with such classic action movies as Under siege and The fugitive. Pity his success was only short-lived and it wouldn’t be long before he’d drop to the status again of second-rate movie maker.
did you know?
The pictures in the opening credits (including the one of baby Nico) are in fact real pictures of Steven Seagal in his youth.
Give it to me straight:
Above the law tries to sell itself as an action movie, but it’s more of a failed attempt to create a police drama. The movie could’ve reached a higher level of amusement if it didn’t take itself so serious. The storyline is hardly interesting enough to keep the viewer awake – there is just not enough action – and the acting itself is so poor that it simply cannot save this movie. Worth watching on a rainy Saturday afternoon … but only if there’s nothing else on TV.