The fight scenes are pretty good despite seeing wires and stunt doubles. But the story and characters are terrible. Which would be forgivable if the majority of the movie was the action scenes, but sadly it isn't. DVD video quality is below average. English dub is horrible, but that was expected. Watch the trailer, skip the movie.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Better than the other action movie that it shares its name with but...Sept. 7 2007
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I absolutely love Yuen Biao, in fact; I think he may be the most underappreciated GREAT martial artist ever. So it pains me to say that this movie is altogether mediocre at the very best. None of the acting is good enough to make any of the characters compelling and the dialogue is jilted and forced(even for this type of film) when not busy being downright painful. As another reviewer mentioned, the stunt work and fight scenes seem overly edited and even sloppy at times. The music... oh boy, this may be as bad as I've ever heard(stock tunes or even nails on a chockboard would've been preferred) and is literally bad enough to dock the movie a star all on its own. All that being said, you do get some good and even great action. The first fight between Yuen and Cynthia Rothrock is fast and tight and they compliment each others styles well. The next solo fight Yuen takes on former kickboxing champ Peter Cunningham in a brutal give-and-take fight with plenty of big shots and broken glass. My favorite Yuen part was the entire parking garage scene that begins with him being ran down by cars before breaking into a brawl against a bunch of goons. Shocking to me though, was that arguably the best fight of the movie is a ladies only scrum between Rothrock and Sheperd! I would agree with fellow reviewer Morgoth when he states that it's "one of the better woman on woman fights of all time." If you are a fan of Yuen or just martial arts action movies in general you could certainly do worse, but this is far from the best the genre has to offer. For all those looking for a review for the Steven Seagel film of the same name... sorry to waste your time (and sorry you're looking for that!).
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Good movie, great special featuresJune 5 2007
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Yuen Biao stars as a vigilante defense attorney. When all of his witnesses are killed, he looks to take matters into his own hands. Cynthia Rothrock stars a mahjong playing, kung fu fighting policewoman, and Melvin Wong stars as the dirty police chief. The story has many illogical things happening, but if you have seen a lot of Hong Kong films, you know they do whatever they have to do to move onto the next fight scene. Fan Siu Wong has a great role as a young punk. He doesn't get to do any action, but it is pretty hard to believe that this is the same kid who only 5 years later would attain a physique that even Bruce Lee would have marveled at. So to sum the movie up briefly, Biao and Rothrock finally figure out Melvin Wong is the bad guy, and it all leads to a spectacular finish.
The story is not bad, but the action is definitely the best thing about this movie. Yuen Biao gives one of his very best physical performances, and Rothrock has a few nice fights including one of the better woman on woman fights of all time against Karen Sheperd. I always love to see the chain rope in action, and Karen Sheperd seems to be very skilled using it. Peter "Sugarfoot" Cunningham plays an assassin and has my favorite fight of the movie against Biao. They don't pull any punches and it is very intense. The final fight is good, but then there is a thrilling chase sequence that I was not expecting at all. Don't give up on this movie half way through if you don't like it, the last 30 minutes are worth a watch for any fan of action cinema.
Picture and sound quality are VERY good, and big thanks to Dragon Dynasty for including the original Cantonese mono track.
Special features are as good as it gets. The alternate ending is interesting, the commentary from Bey Logan is filled with good information, and the interviews are worth the price of the DVD alone. 18 minutes with Peter Cunningham, 17 with Yuen Biao, and 13 with Rothrock. All the interviews are so good, I can't name a favorite. There is no way I could go over all the great things that are brought up, but here is a small taste of Rothrock's interview- "Yuen Kwai (the director) was a lot tougher on me than Sammo Hung. I would tell him I don't think I can do this and he would say yes you can, practice here for 2 hours."
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Spectacular Fight Scenes Make this Flick Excel at the GenreMay 30 2007
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This movie, directed by Corey Yuen, the master of developing "fun" fight scenes. The movie stars a younger Yuen Biao, Cynthia Rothrock, Karen Sheppard, Pete Cunningham just to name a few. The plot, predictable, the dialogue whether in English or Cantonese, is often obvious and not very clever; but, this movie, judged on its own terms excel where many of this genre fails. There is a plot and the fighting is always in relation to it.
And, it is here, in the fight scenes that one can indulge in martial mayhem! This is a young Rothrock and she is at some of her best (actually, her Hong Kong films far surpass any of her American work). The fight scene with Karen Sheppard is just fantastic! There is so litle work of Sheppard on film, that this makes the movie even more of a treat. Of course, Biao is great and one will enjoy his fight scene against Pete Cunningham.
These fights are great and fun and Rothrock and Biao fans will you it.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Nothing about this movie makes any sense. Except for the stunts and fights.July 31 2009
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This is classic 80's Hong Kong action cinema: take a paper thin premise, barely sketch out a coherent plot, recruit some incredible fighters, then get your friends, the stunt guys, and members of the crew to play any other needed roles, scrape up a bare minimum of cash, and start shooting! This film practically redefines low budget-- The costuming is so minimal, it looks like most of the actors were just shot in the clothes they came to work in. Cynthia Rothrock, the lead female, appears in a ludicrous procession of color-coordinated, shoulder-padded outfits that look like she discovered the softer side of Sears. The makeup and grooming of the actors is horrible- in some close-ups you can see a couple big zits on Yuen Biao's face, just begging to be popped!
The premise is a throw away: a disillusioned lawyer takes the law into his own hands, coming up against gangsters and a crooked cop. The characters lack any and all coherent motivation or consistent behavior. The narrative is so sloppy and disjointed, in many places, you'll be scratching your head wondering how one event even connects to another. For example, by the end of the movie, our heroes, Cynthia Rothrock and Yuen Biao, are pursuing a crooked police captain. How and why they find this police captain suddenly moonlighting as an airplane mechanic, in a hanger where his coworkers are apparently also his paid henchmen, is never explained in any way. Clearly there was no thought whatsoever behind it, except it sets up the showpiece stunt in which the guy takes off in a plane as Biao is dragged down the runway and 4,000 feet into the air on the end of a rope!
But that stunt, among the zillions of others, is truly amazing. And so are the fights. Cynthia Rothrock is unbelievable in this movie, showing so much power and determination in her fight scenes. The battle between her and Biao inside a small apartment is jaw dropping, and it is only one of several equally impressive throw-downs. Yuen Biao is just as compelling, at least physically speaking, as Jackie Chan or Sammo Hung, bringing an incredibly lithe, limber, and whip-like power to his movements.
Those stunts and fights are clearly the reason this film was made, the only thing the creators put any effort into, and the only reasons to see this movie. If you really love wacky HK humor, you might also get a kick out of the antics of Corey Yuen-Kwai who plays Rothrock's Pigpen-like parter on the police force. (Yuen-Kwai also directed this movie, and also directed some of the Transporter movies--films similarly lacking coherent plot or characters!) But the weird thing is, so many people are killed in this movie, in such merciless ways, that all the wacky humor totally undermines any sense of drama or pathos. The actors certainly don't help, as they are incapable of expressing any true grief, as one-by-one, every character in the film is killed off! (and their family and friends too!)
Rated against other movies in the genre, this film really doesn't deserve 4 stars. But I'm giving extra points for the historical importance of the Biao/Rothrock match-up, as well as the presence of a couple other American fighters playing villians in the movie. Point as well are due for the simple, gleeful cheesiness and innocent exuberance that infuses this mess with a energy that makes American actioners of the same period look flaccid by comparison.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Above Average Biao, Rothrock, and YuenApril 9 2009
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"Above the Law" is one of the best films Cynthia Rothrock ever appeared in, period. I cannot speak so certainly for Yuen Biao, but seeing as this movie earned him his most recent nomination at the Hong Kong Film Awards for action choreography, I can't imagine it being one of his worst. Yes, the movie is an action spectacle sure to drop the jaws of all but the most weathered fans of Hong Kong cinema...but beyond that, not unexpectedly, it's not much of a movie. "Above the Law" personifies the stereotypical HK film that excels in martial arts scenes but flat-lines otherwise in light of poor acting performances and iffy technical issues. Nevertheless, fans of Biao, Rothrock, and director Corey Yuen (The Legend of Fong Sai Yuk) should definitely pick it up.
The story: disenchanted Hong Kong prosecutor Hsia Ling-Cheng (Biao, The Prodigal Son) takes justice into his own hands as a lethal vigilante, but hot on his heels is Cindy Si (Rothrock, No Retreat No Surrender 2), a detective willing to fight violence with violence who believes him to be behind a gruesome underworld killing.
The plot sounds pretty straight-forward but gets a bit more complicated than you'd expect the typical action storyline to be. The fighting, I must stress, is first-rate and continues to top most everything that's been produced this side of the Pacific. Six highly-acrobatic brawls featuring Biao, Rothrock, Peter Cunningham (No Retreat, No Surrender), Melvin Wong (Heart of Dragon), and the ever-underutilized Karen Shepard (Cyborg 2) count as among the very best fights of everybody involved. With the exception of a couple of blows that clearly don't connect and a few blatantly-obvious stunt doubles, each and every fight is a wonder to behold, with no weak offerings or even anybody particularly outdoing anybody else. Weapons, flips, and liberal use of the environment as leverage make these encounters as cinematically appealing as they are creatively genius. Also, there are some pretty cool stunts involving Biao and cars.
At times, however, the pauses between the action seem a bit too long, especially when they're filled with the troublesome dramatic exchanges between Siu-Wong Fon (Riki-Oh - The Story of Ricky) and Yuen Biao or the one between Biao and Rothrock in the hospital. Mediocre acting skills are further offset by flowery dialogue that most western audiences will be unable to relate to and humor that only Hong Kong fans will understand. Almost the entire cast - including Corey Yuen as Rothrock's goofball partner and Ma Wu (Chinese Ghost Story) as his father - are in trouble as thespians and look nothing short of mediocre when compared to the film's only acceptable performer, Roy Chiao (Indiana Jones & The Temple of Doom) as the magistrate. Granted, drama is not the focus of action movies and oughtn't detract too much from the overall quality, but seeing as the film relies on dramatics to a beyond-casual extent, it's relatively damaging.
In addition, Dragon Dynasty has done a good job with the DVD package: three language tracks are included (both the original and a more recent, polished Cantonese dub, and the original English dub) as well as insightful interviews with Biao, Rothrock, and Cunningham and an alternate ending filmed subsequent to production by audience demand.
Again, "Above the Law" is awesome as an action feature but questionable as anything else. Nevertheless, it's a must-have for Hong Kong aficionados of this period. Those familiar with the work of Yuen Biao and Cynthia should definitely give it a watch.