ABC Film Challenge – 80s – Z – Above the Law (1988)

Above the Law is under Z because of the villain Zagon.

Director: Andrew Davis

Writer: Steven Pressfield, Ronald Shusett, Andrew Davis (Screenplay) Andrew Davis, Steven Seagal (Story)

Starring: Steven Seagal, Pam Grier, Henry Silva, Ron Dean, Daniel Faraldo, Sharon Stone


Plot: A former Special Operations Vietnam vet works as a Chicago cop, and uncovers C.I.A. wrongdoing.

Tagline – He was a covert agent trained in Vietnam. He has a master 6th degree black belt in Aikido… and family in the Mafia. He’s a cop with an attitude. 

Runtime: 1 Hour 39 Minutes


There may be spoilers in the rest of the review


Verdict: Typical Seagal Action


Story: Above the Law starts when retired special operations solider turned cop Nico (Seagal) starts investigating his latest case with his partner Jacks (Grier). The case sees him tracking down a drug dealer which as is Nico’s way, sees him going above the law with how he handles his dealings.

When Nico get told to walk away from the case, it leads to him going against the rules once again, making him a target for the real criminal Zagon (Silva) that starts by targeting his personal life.


Thoughts on Above the Law


Characters – Nico Toscani travelled the world to learn martial arts, joined the special operations unit in Vietnam before returning to be Chicago to be a cop. His methods go against the normal for any cop and his family is the most important thin in his life, if you mess with them he will come for you. Jacks is the partner of Nico, she does try to guide him to stay within the law, even if she knows he is right with his actions. Kurt Zagon is the criminal mastermind, he has all the small town criminals in his pocket and isn’t happen when somebody starts causing him problems in his business. Sara is the wife of Nico that supports him and is the one person he will protect without a second thought.

PerformancesSteven Seagal is always going to be known for his action films, he is easy to watch with his style and this is one of his better ones before it became too routine for him. Pam Grier is a performer that we wish we could have seen more of because she does bring her supporting performance to life. Henry Silva is the much needed villain of the piece that does above the law with his action. Sharon Stone doesn’t get that much time on camra if we are honest, making it hard to judge her performance.

StoryThe story follows a harden cop that will do anything to get the criminals being forced to go against the law to make sure they are off the street even though his latest case will put a target on his back. This story does show us how a cop can walk into a bigger conspiracy going on which will see him needing to find a way out of the trouble he has stumbled into. Being a Seven Seagal movie, it clearly doesn’t need a very deep story which this one doesn’t offer in any way.

Action/Crime/MysteryThe action in this film is here to give Seagal an chance to show off his fighting skills which is all it needs to really, this one does feel like one of the smoother ones though. The criminal world our cop enters shows how criminals can operate both sides of the law. The mystery is around whether Nico can solve the crime before it is too late.

SettingsThe film is set in Chicago which is one of the easy go to locations for any police drama.

Scene of the Movie –
The four on one stand off.

That Moment That Annoyed Me This isn’t the deepest story.

Final ThoughtsThis is one of the early typical Seagal movies, we know the action is going to work for his style without being anything that we haven’t seen before.


Overall: Easy action.




ABC Film Challenge – Action – U – Under Siege (1992)

Director: Andrew Davis

Writer: J.F. Lawton (Screenplay)

Starring: Steven Seagal, Gary Busey, Tommy Lee Jones, Patrick O’Neal, Glenn Morshower, Erika Eleniak


Plot: An ex-Navy Seal turned cook is the only person who can stop a group of terrorists when they seize control of a U.S. battleship.

Tagline – It’s not a job…It’s an Adventure!

Runtime: 1 Hour 43 Minutes


There may be spoilers the rest of the review


Verdict: Fun Action Film


Story: Under Siege starts as the USS Missouri is planning a party in honour of the captain Adams (O’Neal) who has had a successful meeting with the President. The cook of the ship is Casey Ryback (Seagal) who hasn’t always seen eye to eye with his superiors including Commander Krill (Busey).

When Krill is joined by the entertainment William Strannix (Jones), their plan is revealed as they take over the battleship leaving the only person that can save the day being Ryback, the loyal soldier.


Thoughts on Under Siege


Characters – Casey Ryback is the former Navy Seal that has taken the role of chef on the battleship, he is a decoration officers and soon becomes the one leading the fight back against the terrorists who have taken over. Commander Krill is the officers that has snapped, tired of being second in command, he arranges the takeover of the ship with Strannix, he is a loose cannon that should have been taken off duty years before. William Strannix is the mastermind behind taking the ship, he has planned for the moment as an act of revenge against the government who betrayed him in his eyes.

PerformancesSteven Seagal is always going to be known for being a certain type of action star, this plays into his strengths, not needing too many lines, bit of fighting and of course a lot of shooting. Gary Busey as an unstable villain, well this sounds like the perfect choice, while Tommy Lee Jones can always be picked for a villain role to look the part.

StoryThe story is terrorists take over a US battleship and one man must use his skills to get it back before they can do too much damage. It is nice to see it domestic terrorism rather than just slapping any nationality in the role. There isn’t anything overly original in this story, but it is a tried and tested formula that works on every level.

ActionThe action is everything you would have come to expect from the movie, we have fights, gun battles and explosion, what more do we want?

SettingsThe film takes place on the US Battleship, this keeps everything contained and with little or no place to run and with the weapons on board to make them a threat.

Scene of the Movie –
Taking on the Submarine.

That Moment That Annoyed Me It is easily too much by the book.

Final ThoughtsThis is everything an action fan will enjoy in a movie, it is easily one that can be enjoyable by all the fans of the genre before Seagal became a parody of himself in his later films.


Overall: Action fans will be enjoying.




Collateral Damage (2002)

logoDirector: Andrew Davis

Writer: David Griffiths, Peter Griffiths (Screenplay) David Griffiths, Peter Griffiths, Ronald Roose (Story)

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Francesca Neri, Elias Koteas, Cliff Curtis, John Leguizamo, John Turturro


Plot: When firefighter’s Gordy Brewer (Schwarzenegger) family are killed in an explosion the government claim it was just collateral damage. Gordy heads out to Columbia for revenge on the people responsible for the killing his family but doing so he opens up the terrorism that is running wild against America from Columbia.


Verdict: An emotionally driven thriller

Story: When you see Schwarzenegger you expect to see a simple to follow story where Arnie spills out cheap one-liners. This enters a much more serious story and tackles a revenge story that is full of emotion. A hero that isn’t military trained, taking down the people responsible for his family’s murder. It all plays out very well with a few twists and turns as well as likeable characters appearing as the story unfold. (9/10)


Actor Review: Arnold Schwarzenegger – Gordy the firefighter who goes on a mission of revenge against a Columbian terrorist who killed his family. Strong Arnie performance, which was his last good one before his break. Star Performance Award, Action Star Award, Favourite Character Award, Kick Ass Award, Unluckiest Character Award (9/10)


Actor Review: Francesca Neri – Selena the wife of the Wolf who helps Gordy out but has a similar back story for pain in her life. Good performance that plays both sides of the story well. (8/10)


Actor Review: Elias Koteas – Peter an agent with the CIA who is trying to take down the Columbian terrorist but only thinks for himself. Good performance creating an unlikable character with good intentions. (8/10)


Actor Review: Cliff Curtis – The Wolf the terrorist who sets the bomb that kills Gordy’s family. Good performance creating a cold calculated killer that shows no remorse. (8/10)


Actor Review: John Turturro – Armstrong an engineer who helps Gordy. Only a short cameo like role gives important information and lights up the screen. Scene Stealer Award (8/10)


Actor Review: John Leguizamo – Felix a drug producer who brings in Gordy to fix an engine but like Turturro it is only a small cameo like role. Shows his skill in his short time on the screen. (8/10)


Director Review: Andrew Davis – A string of well-directed action dramas continues the trend here. (8/10)


Action: The action is put together well. (9/10)

Thriller: It is thrilling but like much or Schwarzenegger it never really builds. (7/10)

Special Effects: Good special effects throughout. (8/10)

Believability: The war on terrorism is very real and how the innocent people have to deal with the outcome is real but the mission of revenge is not. (4/10)

Chances of Tears: No (0/10)

Settings: Set mostly through Columbia which offers danger round every corner. (8/10)

Suggestion: I personally think this is one of the most underrated Arnie film and it really is one that should be watched. Non-action fans may not like the film. (Watch)


Best Part: The final explosion in the underground.

Worst Part: That the firefighter is smarter than FBI and CIA agents.

Kill Of The Film: The Wolf

Trivia: Was delayed after 9/11 attacks.

Oscar Chances: No

Chances of Sequel: No


Overall: Great action thriller

Rating 87