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Review Above the Law a.k.a. Nico (1988): Steven's Seagal film debut and among his best!

genre: action, crime, martial arts

This used to be one of my favourites. Now having watched it after so many years I feel it is not anymore. But don't let this influence you since it is still heaps better than any of his direct to video movies. And I can say that without having watched the majority of those. Because let's face it the Steven Seagal of now can't compare to the Steven Seagal that was.

You don't have to wait long to see why. In the introductory scene we see a young Seagal demonstrating his skills and immediately you will notice how fast he was. I mean lightning fast. His movements were very smooth and it really looks like he can handle himself in a fight. In many of his recent films he doesn't even do the majority of his fights himself anymore. Which if you think about it is real puzzling. Because that is the one thing we watch his movies for. Not in a million years would I ever watch his film for his acting unless he found some magic pill that suddenly makes him a decent actor. Although I do have to say that I never found Seagal to be a bad actor. Only you never could never separate the emotions he was supposed to be portraying. Maybe if you looked closely at his eye brows or something. Anyway no matter how you feel about him as an actor in his debut he does manage to have a commanding presence with his looks and mannerisms. You actually buy him as the hero who only wants to do good even if that means breaking a few bones here and there. Him being married to Sharon Stone though felt like reaching. But this was before she was a huge star and we knew what she was about. Pam Grier as Jacks plays his partner and she is designated the " I am too old for this..." role and somehow it suits her. I only wished she had been given more prominence because if you ask me it is very criminal not to use the fine actress she is to her full potential.

What can I say about the story? It's very preachy and supposedly very real and confronting. Maybe back at the time but now it's nothing new under the sun. It probably won't surprise you that Steven Seagal contributed in writing the script. And that the focus lies on the so called intrigue. This would not have been such a bad thing had it not detracted from the action that much. It may surprise you that there is not nearly enough action as in his later films. A shame really since it's the action that is the best what this film has to offer. But I have to say that there were some scenes where Steven cracked me up with his oneliners. Thug: " I don't think you can take us all, badass. " Nico shoots one of them and then replies: " No, but I'll get an A for effort. "  Another thing I liked was the soundtrack. Granted it was the same theme over and over again but it suited the film and that is what counts right?

So is this worth your time? While it has not aged well it still is better than the crap he is making nowadays and he is looking very good in his young years. So if you have not seen his debut yet then I would say it is worth your time.

Some fun facts: 

Steven Seagal broke the wrist of Sean Connery while training for Never Say Never Again.

Steven Seagal was involved as martial arts coordinator in The Challenge (1982).

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