Above the Law (film)

Above the Law (film)
Above the Law
Directed by Andrew Davis
Produced by Andrew Davis
Steven Seagal
Screenplay by Steven Pressfield
Ronald Shusett
Andrew Davis
Story by Andrew Davis
Steven Seagal
Starring Steven Seagal
Pam Grier
Sharon Stone
Daniel Faraldo
Henry Silva
Music by David M. Frank
Cinematography Robert Steadman
Editing by Michael Brown
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) April 8, 1988 (1988-04-08)
Running time 99 minutes
Country United States
Hong Kong
Language English
Budget $7,500,000[1]
Box office $18,869,631

Above the Law (also known as Nico: Above The Law, or simply Nico) is a 1988 action film directed by Andrew Davis, probably best-known for being the film debut of Steven Seagal. This came about after a successful screen test, financed by Michael Ovitz, led to Seagal being offered a contract by Warner Bros. Set in Chicago, the film was rated R by the MPAA.[2]



Sergeant Nicolo "Nico" Toscani (Steven Seagal) is a detective in the Chicago Police Department’s vice squad. Born in Palermo, Italy, he and his family immigrated to Chicago when he was seven. Early on, he developed an interest in martial arts, and soon moved to Japan to study from the masters.

In 1969, Nico was recruited into the CIA by CIA Special Agent Nelson Fox (Chelcie Ross) and served a tour with a CIA Special Ops. group serving in Vietnam and Cambodia in 1973, and Nico was involved in some covert operations on the Vietnamese-Cambodian border during the Vietnam War.

There, he became disgusted with Kurt Zagon (Henry Silva), one of his superiors, who used the Vietnam war as an opportunity to get into the money-making business of smuggling drugs. Nico left the CIA. Upon returning, Nico returned to Chicago and joined the Chicago Police Department. He was soon promoted to Detective, and assumed his current role. Nico has a wife named Sara (Sharon Stone).

Nico and his new partner, soon-to-leave-the-force Detective Delores "Jacks" Jackson (Pam Grier) are now investigating a drug ring, and after busting two of the dealers, including Salvadorian drug dealer Tony Salvano (Daniel Faraldo), Nico finds C4 explosives.

Shortly afterward, in a twist of events, everyone that Nico and Jacks arrested is suddenly let go at the request of Federal officials, and Nico is asked to stand down, not to mention the fact that the priest of Nico’s parish is killed in an explosion as a Mass is ending. Fox calls Nico and tells him to move his family to a safer location, concluding that Nico is in danger.

Soon enough, Nico has police searching his house and is asked to turn in his badge. Nico eventually finds that the dealers he busted are linked to Zagon, who is still with the CIA. Zagon wants to use drug money to fund an invasion of Nicaragua, and Senator Ernest Harrison (Joe D. Lauck) puts the heat on Zagon and his group to reveal their undercover operations.

When Nico finds out that the priest’s death was of Zagon’s making, and that Zagon is planning to kill Harrison, Nico seeks to bring down Zagon and all involved with him to justice. Nico has a confrontation with Fox, who is himself corrupt, and who tries to take Nico hostage. Nico is eventually captured by Zagon, who kills Fox for not bringing Nico in.

Nico breaks free after being held in the kitchen of a hotel during a campaign party in which Harrison is attending. Before Zagon can kill Harrison, Nico breaks free, although drugged, and kills all of Zagon's men, including Zagon himself by breaking his neck.


  • Steven Seagal as Det. Sgt. Nico Toscani[3]
  • Sharon Stone as Sara Toscani
  • Pam Grier as Det. Delores “Jacks” Jackson
  • Henry Silva as Kurt Zagon
  • Ron Dean as Det. Lukich
  • Daniel Faraldo as Tony Salvano
  • Miguel Nino as Chi Chi Ramon
  • Nicholas Kusenko as FBI Agent Neeley
  • Joe Greco as Father Joseph Gennaro (as Joe V. Greco)
  • Chelcie Ross as Nelson Fox
  • Michael Rooker as Man in Bar #1
  • Dale Payne as Man in Bar #2
  • Joe D. Lauck as Senator Ernest Harrison
  • Henry Godinez as Father Tomasino


It has been reported that Seagal was asked to make the film by his former aikido pupil, agent Michael Ovitz, who believed he could make anyone a movie star.[4]


The film received generally positive reviews. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times stated “It contains 50 percent more plot than it needs, but that allows it room to grow in areas not ordinarily covered in action thrillers.”[5] Rotten Tomatoes rates it at 57%,. However, Hal Hinson of the Washington Post criticized it as “woefully short on originality.”[6][7]

Box office

It grossed $18,869,631 in the U.S.[8]


External links

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