Above the Law (1986) - Special Collector's Edition

Genre(s): Action / Martial Arts
Dragon Dynasty || NR - 96 minutes - $19.95 || May 29, 2007
Reviewer: Elyusha Vafaeisefat || Posted On: 2007-05-31


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Corey Yuen
Writer(s): Chuek-Hon Szeto, Barry Wong
Cast: Bio Yuen, Cynthia Rothrock, Roy Chiao, Siu-Wong Fan, Melvin Wong


Theatrical Release Date: NA


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Hong Kong Cinema Expert Commentary
  • The Vigilante: an interview with producer and star, Yuen Biao
  • Action Overload featurette with Cynthia Rothrock
  • From The Ring to The Silver Screen featurette with Peter Cunningham
  • Hong Kong promotional trailer
  • US promotional trailer


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.66)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), Cantonese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Cantonese (Dolby Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Cantonese

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.::THE FILM::.

Above the Law is one of hundreds of Hong Kong action films that came out during the mid 80's into the mid 90's when it hit its peek with Jackie Chan and Jet Li films. This particular film is likely not known to American audiences because it does not star one of the internationally known Hong Actors like Li, Chan or Chow Yun-Fat. However, Above the Law marks one of the first films for action director Corey Yuen who American audiences might know as the director of The Transporter as well as being the martial arts choreographer on the Jet Li film Kiss of the Dragon. The film stars Yuen Biao, who was one of the biggest action stars in Hong Kong during the 80's and 90's. The film has a generic action film story of revenge and for the most part is rather entertaining to watch. Given the fact that the film was made on an extremely low budget, it is impressive to see some of the action sequences Yuen Biao and Corey Yuen choreographed together.

As most people know by now, one of the trademarks of Hong Kong action films are the remarkable stunts and well choreographed fights. The final sequence in which Yuen Biao actually hangs off a plane is quite impressive. During the commentary, Bey Logan (a Hong Kong action film expert) even mentions the fact that it is a James Bond type of stunt but on a low budget film. In the end, the film has its moments here and there but they are few and far between. I would definitely say this is one of the more average Hong Kong action films that I have seen.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The DVD includes an audio commentary by Bey Logan who as I mentioned before, is a Hong Kong as well as overall Asian cinema expert. He is able to give you the background of every actor in the film as well as linking them to other well known action stars as well. Logan discusses the stunts in detail and is also not afraid to point out any mistakes the film might have in terms of story or continuity. Logan also refers to alternate versions of the film that were made for Western audiences as well as its Hong Kong audience. His wealth of knowledge makes the commentary worth listening to.

The Vigilante: An Interview with Yuen Biao runs about 16 minutes as the star of Above the Law covers topics such as hiring American actors to sell the film to Western audiences as well as how he got involved with acting and directing. Yuen Biao also compares some of the differences between Hollywood and Hong Kong filmmaking as well.

Action Overload: An interview with Cynthia Rothrock is an interesting interview because not only is Rothrock a female doing action films, she is also an American making Hong Kong action films. This interview runs about 12 minutes and Rothrock discusses how she was the first American woman to do a Hong Kong movie as well as the inability to communicate with a lot of the cast and crew because of the language barrier.

The last interview is From the Ring to the Silverscreen: An Interview with Peter Cunningham. This interview lasts about 18 minutes and is also interesting because Cunningham is one of the first African American martial artists to be in a Hong Kong action film. Though his part is rather small, it is still interesting to hear about his experience doing the film. Cunningham also talks about the fact that he is enjoying his career as a writer and martial arts instructor.

The DVD also includes 2 alternate endings which runs about 22 minutes.

Spoilers******

The first alternate ending deals with Cynthia Rothrock and well as Yuen Biao's characters not dying in the final sequence. They both live but Yuen Biao's character gets 8 years in prison for killing the "bad guy."

The second alternate ending is identical to the first one expect for the fact that Yuen Biao's character gets life in prison for killing the "bad guy."

****End spoilers

The DVD also includes a trailer gallery which has an American promo trailer as well as the original Hong Kong promo trailer.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

As one would expect, the audio on a Hong Kong action film is quite weak because of the dubbing that is needed. I would say that the audio is slightly above average in terms of what I have seen in other Hong Kong action films in the 80's. The DVD is available in Cantonese 5.1 and Mono as well as English 5.1.

The video transfer on the other hand is actually rather good in terms of what I have seen in previous films in the genre.



.::OVERALL::.

I think fans of either Yuen Biao or Corey Yuen will appreciate the DVD that Dragon Dynasty has put together. I was impressed with the packages they put together for Seven Swords and The Protector and I am equally impressed with what they put together for this film given the fact that it is over 20 years old. While the film itself is on the average side, fans of the genre will enjoy the extra features and interviews Dragon Dynasty has put together for the DVD.