Nico: Above the Law (1988)
|Year Of Production||1988|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Andrew Davis|
Warner Home Video
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
This incarnation starts in 1973 with Nico Toscani (Steven Seagal) having been recruited into The Company (otherwise known as the CIA) to engage in covert operations in Vietnam and Cambodia. Following a rather inconsiderate disagreement with Zagon (Henry Silva) over the fact that he seems to be using the CIA as a cover for his personal drug-dealing activities, Nico departs the CIA. Jump forward to Chicago, 1988 and Nico is now married to Sara (Sharon Stone) and working for the Chicago Police Department with his partner Delores Jackson (Pam Grier). As an aside here, I guess that the whole "thing" about the CIA operating outside the law and financing its activities from drug money have been done to death, but will we ever know the truth? Anyway, basically the whole film is about the efforts of Nico to expose the corruption of his former employer and bring to justice the bad guys. Ummm, where have I read this plot before? Along the way we get ample opportunity for all the clichéd bad guys, the usual spate of ludicrous fight scenes, and generally good triumphing over evil.
Well, no one ever accused any Steven Seagal movie of being original and in that respect the only original thing about this film is the fact that it is the first Steven Seagal take on the clichéd corrupt cop routine. Obviously, he cannot act to save his life and so just plays himself, which is not too bad an idea as it is claimed to be an almost autobiographical film - although his alleged involvement with the CIA remains unsubstantiated at this time. Pam Grier was obviously brought in as the serious actor to lend some credence to the film, but she ends up being almost as bad as everyone else - although with the dialogue on offer here it is little wonder. Sharon Stone looks quite plain (well at least as plain as she can look) but at least is worthwhile looking at - even though her acting ability is not especially wondrous either. As for the rest? Forget it. They can be summed up as a bunch of hacks trying to act and failing quite miserably at it. Surprisingly, someone actually owned up to directing this piece of rubbish and his name is Andrew Davis - but since he was also the producer along with Steven Seagal, I suppose he could hardly be held blameless in any form anyway.
So really what we have on offer here is a over-clichéd, badly-written screenplay, full of over-clichéd characters, brought to life (I use the phrase in the loosest possible sense) by a bunch of inept actors who fail miserably at just about every level in a film that completely lacks any sort of direction. So really, this is just another patented Steven Seagal film.
This is a fairly typical run-of-the-mill transfer, decent enough but not as good as perhaps it should have been. It is not really a sharp transfer, and at times is just a little too close to a soft transfer although with adequate-enough definition. Overall, this simply lacks the sparkle of a sharp, clear, well-defined transfer. The picture is a little grainy at times, which is a reflection of the lack of clarity in the transfer. Shadow detail was in general nothing more than decent. There appear to be no problems with low level noise in the transfer.
This presents a slightly muted palette of colours and is not anything approaching a vibrant transfer - again quite typical of a Steven Seagal film. There is no hint of oversaturation in the transfer at all, and the transfer rarely conveys any sort of life. Really, this is quite an underdone effort, but probably a reflection of the way the film was shot anyway - I cannot imagine that this had a seriously-sized budget. Of particular note is the rather poor efforts at blood - rather too obviously of the fake variety.
There were no MPEG artefacts noted in the transfer. There did not appear to be any really significant film-to-video artefacts in the transfer, although minor aliasing was quite prevalent if you looked for it and there seemed to be occasional problems with jitter in the image. There were a few noticeable film artefacts floating around but nothing too distracting.
Dialogue was reasonably clear and easy to understand.
There were no apparent audio sync problems with the disc.
The score by David M. Frank is hardly the most compelling thing I have ever heard, but then again the film would hardly inspire one to contemplate writing something along the lines of Mozart's Requiem Mass. Full of clichés, I guess in that respect it suits the film rather well.
This is an adequate enough 5.1 soundtrack, rather lacking in detail, with the surrounds and bass channels barely getting a decent workout, even during the explosions. There was rather limited action out of the rear channels and this really should have been a lot better. The sound is rather congested and muddied at times, so the overall soundscape is hardly the most natural-sounding effort I have ever heard. Not the best that I have ever heard, and frankly a little underdone for a 5.1 effort, but nonetheless an adequate effort.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
An adequate video transfer.
An adequate audio transfer.
A non-existent extras package.
|DVD||Pioneer DV-515, using S-Video output|
|Display||Sony Trinitron Wega (80cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Energy Speakers: centre EXLC; left and right C-2; rears EXLR; and subwoofer ES-12XL|