Throwback Thursday Review: Above the Law

  • Actors: Yuen Biao, Roy Chiao Hung, Cynthia Rothrock, Wu Ma, Melvin Wong
  • Director: Corey Yuen
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Weinstein Company
  • DVD Release Date: May 29, 2007
  • Run Time: 96 minutes


    The Weinstein Company spent so many years collecting the rights to release many films and have kept them in their grips till recently, which may explain the release of this 1993 action film from Hong Kong, Above the Law. Although a release in 1993 would have made little sense, it is surprising that this film is only now seeing a proper DVD release considering the director is Corey Yuen. Yuen may not be a household name, but after directing The Transporter he should have had enough credibility for people to begin viewing his earlier films. Still, Above the Law is available finally on special edition from Dragon Dynasty.


    When it is obvious that the law is not able to protect innocent people thanks to a corrupt judicial system, a renegade prosecutor sets out to take justice into his own hands. Each case he builds against the local mob is destroyed when his witnesses are brutally murdered, and it seems to be someone within the police force as well. What begins as one murder turns into an investigation and plenty more deaths to cover the first. Soon an intricate plot blurring the lines between good guys and bad guys takes place. 


    What starts as a typical action film is quickly overcomplicated with too many characters and a roller coaster of genres. There is a vigilante prosecuting lawyer roaming the streets as well as a vigilante cop who is also a bit more sadistic. On the other side of the coin is a specialist female cop sent in to solve the vigilante murders and her rookie cop sidekick. At times Above the Law doesn’t seem able to choose between buddy cop, vigilante, action, suspense and comedy films, so instead they are all just thrown in and mixed around. There is no telling what the film might deliver from one scene to the next, and yet each fight scene is always sure to be the most entertaining part of the film.


    The action in Above the Law is typical Hong Kong full contact martial arts with a specific preoccupation with what feats the human body can accomplish. Although cars are used in the film they are more often an obstacle against a talented and swift human rather than used for chase scenes. One scene in which a character avoids several cars in a parking garage which are all trying to run him over is an impressively creative display of stunts. At the same time the stunts involving the white females in the cast are not quite as impressive, perhaps due to the fact that they obviously have stunt doubles which look nothing like them despite the best attempts.


    The DVD has an alternate ending, although I think I prefer the somewhat bleak original ending although it does seem strange considering the large amount of humor at the beginning of the film. There is also a few interviews on the DVD, including one with producer and star Yuen Biao and leading lady Cynthia Rothrock. There is also a short featurette about Peter Cunningham, co-star and kickboxing champion. Once again Hong Kong Cinema expert Bey Logan gives his traditional commentary track about the film. There are enough facts to keep fans interested as always.



    Entertainment Value: 8/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10

    Historical Significance: 6/10

    Disc Features: 6/10

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