"Above the Law" is a 1986 effort from director Corey Yuen (responsible for directing and choreography on the recent action film "The Transporter" and the choreography of its sequel), which stars Yuen Biao as a Hong Kong prosecutor named Hsia. In an early sequence, he's stunned when an old friend is assassinated right in front of him. Not willing to let the criminals get away, he goes after them in a thrilling car chase sequence that ends with him not calling the cops, but instead shooting the other car's gas tank as the criminals attempt to flee their wrecked vehicle.
Meanwhile, a witness in a case that Hsia is working on is killed, along with his entire family. Furious that the system seems to let criminals slip from its grasp day after day, he decides to take matters into his own hands, tracking down the crime boss and taking him out of the picture on his own. When the police department assigns detective Shih Li-yi (Cynthia Rothrock) to find out who's behind the death, she comes to believe that Hsia is the one behind it and starts trying to convince the authorities. Meanwhile, the two find that a high-ranking officer on the force is corrupt.
The main issue with "Above the Law" isn't the story (which is rather thin, but there's enough here to be moderately involving between the action sequences) or the performances (which are fine enough), but the fact that the film has the most severe case of 80's-itis I think I've ever seen. The film's look (fashions, etc) and score are incredibly, sometimes painfully dated.
Still, while the film isn't much in the visuals department, at least the action sequences are exciting, as there are several fast-paced, tense sequences, including a superbly choreographed fight that involves several cars in a garage and a final battle at the airport and then in the air. Director Corey Yuen's action sequences are all quite entertaining, and the film never goes too long without an action sequence.
"Above the Law" (a.k.a "Righting Wrongs") does have some issues, but otherwise, it stands out as a fun, fast-paced Hong Kong action flick.
VIDEO: "Above the Law" is presented by Genius Products in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. In my experience, most Hong Kong films from this era look as if they've seen better days, as most show some considerable wear-and-tear. Surprisingly, while "Above the Law" does have some specks, marks and other debris present times, the film as a whole looked in surprisingly good shape, considering its age. Some slight edge enhancement and artifacting were seen, but these issues weren't very noticable. Sharpness and detail weren't entirely consistent, but the picture at least looked crisp at best. Colors remained natural and accurate, with no smearing or other issues.
SOUND: The film is presented here with two Dolby Digital 5.1 options - English dubbed and Cantonese. The English dubbed soundtrack is - not surprisingly - rather poorly dubbed. The Canontese soundtrack seemed okay for its age, with flat sound effects and score, but clear dialogue.
EXTRAS: The DVD includes a commentary from Hong Kong cinema expert Bey Logan, as well as new interviews with co-star Peter Cunningham, star/producer Tuen Baio and Cynthia Rothrock. The interviews are newly recorded and quite informative. We also get alternate endings and a trailer gallery.
Final Thoughts: "Above the Law" (a.k.a "Righting Wrongs") isn't without some concerns, but otherwise, it stands out as a fun, fast-paced Hong Kong action flick with some terrific action sequences. The DVD provides satisfactory audio/video and a good selection of extras. Recommended for Hong Kong action fans.
The Film B