"You guys think you're above the law... well you ain't above mine!"
In 1988 Steven Seagal made his film debut with "Above The Law". I was surprised to learn this because I always considered Seagal an 80s Action star but this was his only film to come out during the entire decade. Seagal is Nico Toscani, trained in Martial Arts, recruited into the CIA during the seventies. During his time in the CIA he is sent to Vietnam where he clashes with the methods of interrogator, Kurt Zagon (Henry Silva). After he leaves the CIA he comes home to Chicago, becomes a cop, gets married to Sharon Stone and has a baby. Nico is, as usual for the heroes in these films, the No. 1 cop but this is played much more quietly than it is in films like "Tango and Cash". He is reckless and doesn't often follow orders (again, another 80s Action cliche) but is extremely likable. The plot zooms all over the place and I only really got the gist of it by the time it was over. The bad guys were great bad guys who I really wanted to see get what they deserved (which they do!) but I didn't really understand their motivations most of the time. Some films can do jumpy plot lines well like "Memento" but only really when its jumpy nature is intentional to begin with. The inability to follow exactly who was bad and what was going on was really my only gripe with this movie. Seagal is in top form, looking great and kicking ass. This movie for me really stood the test of time when compared to some other 80s Action films. It's a shame that Seagal gets painted as some kind of goofball cause his earlier works are really quite entertaining.
There are other faces you'll recognize but may be unfamiliar with their names, as I am now writing this. This is probably the most serious of the 80s films I've looked at next to "Rambo: First Blood pt. 2" and definitely the most realistic and relevant. It is also lacking a large majority of the cliches typically found in these movies, which was really a delight. You won't find Seagal walking slowly away from large explosions and he doesn't hit every single person he fires a bullet at. If you can get over what the name Seagal means now, check out what it meant in 1988 when it was first unleashed upon the American movie going audience. On a side note, Seagal has a role in Robert Rodriguez' "Machete" coming out soon and I'm really hoping this could be a come back for the guy. 3.5/5 -andy