Not to be confused with the Steven Seagal movie of the same name, Above The Law is better known to Hong Kong movie fans as Righting Wrongs. Directed by Cory Yuen way back in 1986, it's not the most cerebral of action films but if you want to see some serious ass kicking, it definitely fits the bill.
Yuen Baio plays a lawyer named Hsai who becomes fed up with the system when a crime boss responsible for the death of an innocent family is let loose. To make a difference, he decides to become a vigilante and he starts hunting down criminals and making them pay. Before you know it, Hong Kong police woman Cindy Si (Cynthia Rothrock) is hot on Baio's tale, determined to put a stop to his vigilante tactics but soon events will transpire that will show them that they're not so different from one another after all and that sometimes it's better to work as a team.
What Above The Law lacks in depth, it more than makes up for with fantastic fight scenes and truly impressive stunt work. Yuen Baio gives 110% throughout the picture, fighting with a truly ferocious intensity that a lot of the better known Hong Kong male leads such as Jackie Chan and Jet Li seem to have forgotten about. He's small in stature but he more than makes up for it with fast and brutal fighting that fits the movie very, very well. Cynthia Rothrock holds her own alongside Yuen Baio and while she's isn't quite as intense as he is she is equally impressive during her scenes and the scenes they share together. The two make for a good team, and director Cory Yuen was wise to exploit their chemistry in this picture.
The story line lacks any originality in how it unfolds or as far as twists and turns are concerned. We've seen 'common man turns vigilante' stories time and time again and Above The Law brings nothing new to the genre in terms of branching out from what is a very simple formula. What it does do differently is put Yuen Baio front and center and allow him to really show off what he can do. It's almost as if Cory Yuen knew that the only way to make this movie stand out from the pack was to really amp up the action set pieces to the point where they're almost delirious - thankfully, it works. Don't go into this one expecting anything deep, because you're not going to find it but if you dig on fast paced whupping and crazy, over the top stunt work done without the aid of computer animation, Above The Law will leave you more than happy.Video:
For a twenty-year old film, Above The Law doesn't look bad at all in this 2.35.1 anamorphic widescreen presentation. There is some mild print damage and a few scenes exhibit some moderate film grain but aside from that things look pretty decent. Color reproduction is strong and although you'll probably notice some mild compression artifacts in the darker scenes if you're really looking for them, there aren't a lot of obvious digital transfer related issues on display save for a wee bit of edge enhancement here and there. Not a reference quality transfer, but certainly a decent one.Sound:
Audio options are provided in Cantonese Mono, Cantonese Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound and in English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound with optional subtitles provided in English and Spanish. The English track doesn't fit the movie very well as the dubbing just feels off but at least the quality of the mix is fine. The Cantonese tracks preserve the original language of the film but are just a bit on the flat side. That said, either of the Cantonese tracks will be preferable to the English dub.Extras:
The main supplement on this release is an audio commentary with Bey Logan, who does a decent job of explaining the significance of the film, detailing the history of its cast and its director and in providing some decent, well-rounded facts and trivia. It would have been preferable to have someone actually involved in the making of the movie sit down and provide the commentary, but Logan at least keeps the information coming at a decent pace.
Up next are a trio of interviews: The Vigilante which is an interview with Producer and Star Yuen Biao, Action Overload which is an interview with star Cynthia Rothrock and From The Ring To The Silver Screen which is an interview with star and real life Kickboxing Champion, Peter Cunningham. These are pretty interesting if a little brief. Each of the three interviewees gives us their thoughts and remembrances about working on the film and it makes for an interesting look back at the golden age of Hong Kong cinema.
Rounding out the extra features are a couple of Alternate Endings that are difficult to describe without providing major spoilers (they're quite different than the one that is used in the theatrical cut, however) and a Dragon Dynasty trailer gallery. Animated menus and chapter stops are also included.Final Thoughts:
A fast paced and very well choreographed action film, Above The Law holds up well even now twenty years after it was made. Dragon Dynasty's North American DVD debut isn't perfect but it's good enough that it should make fans of the film pretty happy. Recommended.