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The Curator of Schlock #75 by Jeff Shuster

Above the Law

Yuen Biao is ABOVE THE LAW!

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It’s high time we had another vigilante month. Why? Because I like seeing low-life scumballs get what’s coming to them, and so do you! We’re going to do something a little different. You guessed right, it’s Vigilante Month: International Edition! First stop: Hong Kong!

Above the Law from director Corey Yuen tells the story of Hong Kong barrister Hsia Ling-chi (Yuen Biao). This movie has the greatest teaser I’ve seen since Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator. Hsia has just finished his barrister training in New Zealand under the guidance of his fearless professor. Said professor is so fearless because he’d rather risk death than let “low-life scumballs” back on the streets to terrify the citizenry. The professor gives Ling-chi a parting gift, a book of the law, which will serve him well in his fight against crime back in Hong Kong.

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All the while, a group of assassins are assembling to take out the professor! The first one aims a silencer pistol right at the professor’s head, but Ling-chi deflects the bullet with the book before opening up a can of kung fu on the assailant. Ling-chi’s extra-literary efforts are for naught when a sniper shoots into the professor’s back. A drive-by with machine gun fire finishes the job. I’m impressed. These assassins were prepared.

Anyway, Ling-chi drives after them and blows up their car with that pistol he nabbed.

Assassins are a major problem in this movie.

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Ling-chi manages to secure an informant in a case against some Hong Kong organized crime members. They end up sending an assassin dressed up as a police officer to shoot the witness and his extended family. As the children wail over the bodies of their dead parents, the assassin places an explosive on the door to ignite the whole floor of the apartment, killing the children and maybe some neighbors in the process. Excuse me while I yell SON OF A…barrister.

The suspects and the defense attorney sneer at Ling-chi as they walk away thanks to lack of witness testimony. Ling-chi won’t have any of this, dressing in black and scaling the side of an office building until he finds the floor the suspect is on. One kick through the window and the suspect gets a face full of glass before Ling-chi twists his head in a neck brace.

The police don’t like this rash of vigilante activity so Senior Inspector Cindy Si (Cynthia Rothrock–yes, the Cynthia Rothrock) is called in to investigate. So yeah, this movie just added a whole lot more ass kicking for our viewing pleasure. Don’t give this inspector any sass. She’ll wipe the floor with you and the rest of your drug-peddling friends.

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Like many Hong Kong action films, the fighting is brutal and the stunts are dangerous. There’s a scene where two cars try to plow into Ling-chi from opposite ends.  Ling-chi manages to duck down, missing his fate, but still getting pinned between the two cars when his leg is caught. You’d have to think if Yuen Biao had waited any longer that he may have had a much different career.

If I have one complaint it’s that this movie presents vigilantism in a bad light. That’s not the Hollywood way! Oh, wait. This is Hong Kong.

5 Things I Learned from Above the Law

  1. If your chief of police is also in charge of all the organized crime the city, you’d better get out of Dodge!
  2. When a corrupt police chief offers you a million dollars to keep your mouth shut, that really means he’s going to murder you and your grandfather twenty minutes later.
  3. Don’t keep yelling, “Come on!” to your opponent. It only cheeses them off.
  4. Cynthia Rothrock can kick people in the face with ease. I’m sure they deserve it.
  5. Water doesn’t always break your fall. Sometimes it breaks you.

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Photo by Leslie Salas.

Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeffrey Shuster (episode 47episode 102, episode 124, and episode 131) is an MFA candidate at the University of Central Florida.

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