Above the Law (1988)

R | 99 mins | Adventure, Drama | 8 April 1988

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HISTORY

       Actor Steven Seagal, as his character “Nico Toscani,” precedes opening credits with a voice-over narration. During the narration, a photomontage appears onscreen with images of him as a child and young adult.
       Articles from the 16 Apr 1987 DV and 17 Jun 1987 Var reported that the film would be co-produced by Robert Grand. However, he is not credited onscreen.
       A production chart from the 28 Apr 1987 HR stated that principal photography began 27 Apr 1987 in Chicago, IL. A news brief from the 21 Nov 1987 LAHExam stated that Seagal’s lawyers consulted the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) CIA before filming began, and an 14 Feb 1988 LAT article noted that in early spring 1987, Warner Bros. spent $50,000 for director Andrew Davis to film a number of scenes from the screenplay as a screen test. Filming was projected to be completed by late Jun 1987, as reported by 16 Apr 1987 DV and 17 Jun 1987 Var. The 14 Feb 1988 LAT reported a budget of $7.5 million for the film.
       During production, the 14 Feb 1988 LAT stated that Seagal received a broken nose while filming when he was “accidentally socked” by actor Henry Silva. The incident had no effect on the production schedule, as Seagal returned to the set right away.
       Publicity materials dated 1 Oct 1987 in AMPAS library production files announced a projected release date of Jan 1988 or Feb 1988. However, a news brief from the 20 Jan 1988 Var reported a ... More Less

       Actor Steven Seagal, as his character “Nico Toscani,” precedes opening credits with a voice-over narration. During the narration, a photomontage appears onscreen with images of him as a child and young adult.
       Articles from the 16 Apr 1987 DV and 17 Jun 1987 Var reported that the film would be co-produced by Robert Grand. However, he is not credited onscreen.
       A production chart from the 28 Apr 1987 HR stated that principal photography began 27 Apr 1987 in Chicago, IL. A news brief from the 21 Nov 1987 LAHExam stated that Seagal’s lawyers consulted the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) CIA before filming began, and an 14 Feb 1988 LAT article noted that in early spring 1987, Warner Bros. spent $50,000 for director Andrew Davis to film a number of scenes from the screenplay as a screen test. Filming was projected to be completed by late Jun 1987, as reported by 16 Apr 1987 DV and 17 Jun 1987 Var. The 14 Feb 1988 LAT reported a budget of $7.5 million for the film.
       During production, the 14 Feb 1988 LAT stated that Seagal received a broken nose while filming when he was “accidentally socked” by actor Henry Silva. The incident had no effect on the production schedule, as Seagal returned to the set right away.
       Publicity materials dated 1 Oct 1987 in AMPAS library production files announced a projected release date of Jan 1988 or Feb 1988. However, a news brief from the 20 Jan 1988 Var reported a later release month of Mar 1988, followed two weeks later by a piece in the 3 Feb 1988 Var, noting Apr 1988 as the film’s opening month. The final release date was 8 Apr 1988, as stated in the NYT review published that day, although the 1 Apr 1988 Reader indicated that special "sneak preview" screenings were previously held on 2 Apr 1988.
       The film marked Seagal’s motion picture debut as an actor, producer, and story writer.
       As reported by the 3 Aug 1988 Var and the 19 Nov 1988 Screen International, the film was released abroad under the title Nico.
       End credits state: “Special Thanks to the Illinois Film Office and the Chicago Office of Film and Entertainment.”
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
16 Apr 1987
p. 12.
Daily Variety
30 Mar 1988
p. 3, 24.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Apr 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
31 Mar 1988
p. 3, 26.
LAHExam
21 Nov 1987.
---
Los Angeles Times
14 Feb 1988.
---
Los Angeles Times
8 Apr 1988
p. 14.
New York Times
8 Apr 1988
p. 26.
Reader
1 Apr 1988
p. 21.
Screen International
19 Nov 1988.
---
Variety
17 Jun 1987
p. 5.
Variety
20 Jan 1988
p. 96.
Variety
3 Feb 1988
p. 39.
Variety
6 Apr 1988
p. 12.
Variety
3 Aug 1988
p. 16.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Men in bar:
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Warner Bros. presents
An Andrew Davis Film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
2d 2d asst dir
1st asst dir, Vietnam seq
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Addl photog/Cam op
Cam op
1st asst cam
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
2d asst cam
Gaffer
Elec best boy
Key grip
2d grip
Still photog
Dir of photog, Vietnam seq
Cam op, Vietnam seq
Cam op, Vietnam seq
Asst cam, Vietnam seq
Key grip, Vietnam seq
Gaffer, Vietnam seq
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir, Vietnam seq
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Addl ed
Addl ed
Asst ed
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Lead person
Prop master
Asst prop master
Set dec, Vietnam seq
Const coord, Vietnam seq
Prop master, Vietnam seq
COSTUMES
Set costumer
Costume supv, Vietnam seq
MUSIC
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Asst sd ed
Supv ADR ed
ADR ed
Prod sd mixer
Boom op
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd mixer, Vietnam seq
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Computer graphics
Title des
Opticals
Spec eff, Vietnam seq
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
Makeup artist, Vietnam seq
Hairstylist, Vietnam seq
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Loc mgr
Scr supv
Tech adv
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Craft service
Unit pub
Extras casting
Prod secy
Office secy
Prod accountant
Asst to Mr. Davis
Asst to Mr. Davis
Asst to Mr. Seagal
Casting asst
Casting asst
Prod runner
Prod runner
Prod runner
Prod runner
Prod runner
Scr supv, Vietnam seq
Tech adv, Vietnam seq
Transportation coord, Vietnam seq
STAND INS
Aikido fights
Aikido fights
Aikido fights
Aikido fights
Aikido choreog
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
DETAILS
Release Date:
8 April 1988
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 8 April 1988
Production Date:
27 April--late June 1987 in Chicago, IL
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, Inc.
Copyright Date:
2 June 1988
Copyright Number:
PA382754
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
99
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29113
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1969, while studying martial arts in Japan, Nicolo “Nico” Toscani, an Italian immigrant from Chicago, Illinois, is recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Four years later, in 1973, he is working at the Vietnam – Cambodia border with a team of operatives. There, they meet a group of chemical interrogation specialists, led by Kurt Zagon. That night, Zagon’s chemical injections kill a captured villager. When Zagon begins to threaten another villager, Nico questions Zagon on his methods, but his friend, Nelson Fox, tells Nico not to get involved. As Zagon attempts to cut off a villager’s foot, Nico stops him with brute force, then walks away, announcing that he is done with the CIA. Nico later returns to Chicago and becomes a police officer. By 1988, he and his wife, Sara, have a newborn son, Juliano, who is baptized by Father Joseph Gennaro. At the following celebration, Nico’s partner, Det. Delores “Jacks” Jackson, congratulates Nico, then joins fellow officers Lukich and Lt. Fred Strozah. The men joke that they will miss her after she leaves to become a District Attorney in eight days. Sometime later, Nico discovers that his cousin, Gia, is missing and stops his and Jacks’s cruiser to search for the girl at a bar. When Nico inquires about her whereabouts, patrons mock him, and a fight ensues. Defeating the men, Nico learns that Gia is upstairs with a drug dealer. There, the dealer confesses about an upcoming drug shipment to avoid arrest. According to the dealer, Carlos Abandano, a lawyer of drug traffickers, is involved in the deal. That ... +


In 1969, while studying martial arts in Japan, Nicolo “Nico” Toscani, an Italian immigrant from Chicago, Illinois, is recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Four years later, in 1973, he is working at the Vietnam – Cambodia border with a team of operatives. There, they meet a group of chemical interrogation specialists, led by Kurt Zagon. That night, Zagon’s chemical injections kill a captured villager. When Zagon begins to threaten another villager, Nico questions Zagon on his methods, but his friend, Nelson Fox, tells Nico not to get involved. As Zagon attempts to cut off a villager’s foot, Nico stops him with brute force, then walks away, announcing that he is done with the CIA. Nico later returns to Chicago and becomes a police officer. By 1988, he and his wife, Sara, have a newborn son, Juliano, who is baptized by Father Joseph Gennaro. At the following celebration, Nico’s partner, Det. Delores “Jacks” Jackson, congratulates Nico, then joins fellow officers Lukich and Lt. Fred Strozah. The men joke that they will miss her after she leaves to become a District Attorney in eight days. Sometime later, Nico discovers that his cousin, Gia, is missing and stops his and Jacks’s cruiser to search for the girl at a bar. When Nico inquires about her whereabouts, patrons mock him, and a fight ensues. Defeating the men, Nico learns that Gia is upstairs with a drug dealer. There, the dealer confesses about an upcoming drug shipment to avoid arrest. According to the dealer, Carlos Abandano, a lawyer of drug traffickers, is involved in the deal. That night, Nico wire taps Abandano’s telephone, and he and Jacks overhear that a shipment is due on Tuesday. After the call, Nico and Jacks follow Abandano to a restaurant called Bogotá. Inside, Nico and Jacks watch Abandano join a table with an infamous drug dealer named Salvano. That Tuesday, Nico, Jacks, and Officer Lukich work undercover at a meatpacking warehouse, waiting for Salvano. There, Nico and Lukich notice a number of federal undercover agents. When Salvano and his driver walk to a delivery truck, Nico and Lukich approach them, but a car speeds past, alerting Salvano to the potential threat. Although Salvano and his driver attempt to escape, Nico jumps onto the roof of the car and arrests Salvano. Back at the delivery truck, Lukich shows Nico engine blocks stuffed with military-grade explosives. That night after the arrest, Salvano meets Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents Neeley and Halloran and is set free. As Salvano walks away, Zagon appears behind him and warns him to stay out of trouble. The next morning at the police station, Lt. Strozah introduces Neeley and Halloran to Nico, Jacks, and Lukich. Neeley informs them that Salvano is currently involved with a federal agency, and must be left alone. Later, Jacks and Nico continue to track Salvano against orders, and follow him to Nico’s church. There, Father Gennaro shows them a hidden room full of immigrant adults and children in the basement, and introduces Father Tomasino and Sister Mary, who care for the foreigners. Upstairs, Father Gennaro asks Nico to come to church on Sunday, and watch for anything unusual. Following the priest’s request, Nico attends service and watches as a woman sets a bag down in the aisle before walking away. The bag explodes and kills Father Gennaro. At the hospital, Nico asks Jacks to interview everyone from the church, then runs into FBI Agent Neeley. Asking to speak to him privately, Nico tells Neeley that the bombing was Salvano’s fault, as the woman who planted the bomb was seen dining with the gangster at the Bogatá restaurant. As Nico searches for Salvano, he is trapped in an alley by four armed men, but kills three of them. As the surviving man runs, Nico gives chase and captures his pursuer, who admits that Salvano sent him. Meanwhile, at the morgue, Jacks learns that another victim of the bombing was Alan Singletary, an aide to United States Senator Ernest Harrison. Later that night, Nico receives a telephone call from his former CIA comrade Nelson Fox, who reveals that Nico’s family is in danger. Hours later, FBI agents Neely and Halloran arrive at Nico’s house and escort him to the police station. There, Deputy Supt. Crowder suspends Nico for his unauthorized involvement in the Salvano case. The next morning, Jacks tells Nico and Lukich that the immigrants in the church are refugees from Chile, Guatemala, and El Salvador. She also mentions that Senator Harrison is on the Foreign Relations Committee, and has been gathering evidence on government agencies involved with trafficking drugs in Central America. Later, Nico and Jacks go to the church and speak to Sister Mary. She says that Father Tomasino had been gathering evidence for Senator Harrison, and that he was originally scheduled to give the service the day of the bombing. When Nico is unable to learn Father Tomasino’s whereabouts, he tells Jacks not to get involved, but she insists on continuing her investigation. Later, Nico tells his family to hide at his Uncle Branca’s house, then abducts Agent Neeley at gunpoint. They drive to a FBI warehouse to find the explosives from Salvano’s arrest. However, they learn that CIA agent Nelson Fox is also involved. Later on, Nico asks his friend, Watanabe, for help gathering information on a number of CIA operatives, and she finds data about on number of agents, including Fox and Zagon. Elsewhere, Jacks receives a telephone call from Sister Mary, telling her Father Tomasino is hiding in an apartment. As she, Lukich, and Nico drive to the scene, Zagon’s aides break into Father Tomasino’s apartment, with Zagon and Salvano following. As Zagon prepares chemicals for Father Tomasino’s interrogation, he asks if he has told anyone about the CIA’s plan to kill Senator Harrison. Meanwhile, Nico and Lukich climb through the roof of the apartment building, leaving Jacks in the car. Once in the hallway, they hear Zagon talking about killing the senator. Nico and Lukich break down the door and start shooting. As they are pushed back into the hallway, Jacks runs up the staircase, but Zagon shoots her in the chest. Nico runs back to the roof, followed by Zagon and Salvano. He jumps onto a passing elevated train. When the train stops, however, Salvano and Zagon board the train car, looking from him, but Nico escapes on another train. The next morning, Nico arrives at Uncle Branca’s house. Branca tells him that Jacks is alive because she was wearing a bulletproof vest. That evening, as Nico and Fox head to the apartment building’s parking garage, they are accosted by Zagon, who tells Fox to hand Nico over. However, Salvano shoots Fox dead. Nico then jumps into another car, and backs into Salvano. He continues reversing the car through the wall of the garage, causing Salvano to fall to his death on train tracks. Nico finds another car and tries to escape. However, when he exits the parking structure, he crashes and is taken away by Zagon’s CIA agents in an unmarked van. Later, as Senator Harrison is honored at a theater, Zagon holds Nico captive in the venue’s kitchen. As Zagon injects Nico with his interrogation chemicals, then picks up a knife, but Nico breaks away and attacks Zagon’s men, killing them. Zagon lunges at him, but Nico breaks Zagon’s arm and kills him. Nico limps into the theater’s lobby and passes out as in front of Jacks and Lukich. Days later, Senator Harrison arrives at Nico’s house, thanking him for saving his life. He introduces Judge Roberta Alspaugh of the Fifth Circuit Court. After the Senator departs, Nico tells the judge, on the record, about the CIA operations he was involved with. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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