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Columbia TriStar Home Video presents
Outside The Law (2001)

"Looks like it's just you and me!"
- Julie (Cynthia Rothrock)

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: July 29, 2002

Stars: Cynthia Rothrock, Jeff Wincott, Seamus Dever
Other Stars: Dan Lauria, Stephen Macht
Director: Jorge Montesi

Manufacturer: DVXX
MPAA Rating: R for some violence
Run Time: 01h:30m:00s
Release Date: June 25, 2002
UPC: 043396070646
Genre: action

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
C C-CB- D-

DVD Review

Cynthia Rothrock has starred in many straight-to-video films over the years, yet she remains a relative unknown to most movie-goers. This, however, is most understandable given the relatively mediocre quality of those films. Despite this, Cynthia Rothrock is one of very few Western martial-arts film stars who, at one time, was actually good enough to keep up with her Hong Kong-based peers. For a short time, she starred in some entertaining Hong Kong productions, including her near-legendary appearance in Sammo Hung's Shanghai Express. None of her domestic work has even approached the intensity and craft of what she did overseas, and Outside The Law is yet another Cynthia Rothrock vehicle to add to that ever-growing pile, I'm sad to say.

The film opens with Julie (Rothrock) and her husband-to-be, collaborating with some mysterious government agency in Columbia to do something that's not quite explained until much later in the film. Regardless, the mission that they're on is foiled quite badly when the local drug cartel kills her whole unit off. Again, I must stress that the specifics of what exactly is going on are not really well explained. In any case, when she tries get the secret agency that she works for to bring her back out of the field, she suspects that someone higher up actually wanted everyone to be killed, including her. So, she takes off on a mission to figure out what's going on, while using her agent skills to avoid being found. Whilst traveling incognito in Florida, she happens upon a small diner where the owners invite her to stick around. Her newfound friends, however, turned out to have ties to the local mob, which results in a tricky situation for her.

Obviously, this is all a layer of excuses for Rothrock to kick butt whenever possible. The problem is, it isn't very exciting or impressive. As a basic action film, Outside The Law is flatter than flat, and almost completely lifeless where it counts. The fight sequences don't showcase much of Rothrock's talent, and aren't really much above the average, clumsy street fight you might see on a television show. Her character is patterned after the "bad good guy" image we see from Steven Segal and Chuck Norris, but it just isn't her. She's not terribly convincing, and the amazingly low budget means that the elaborate secret agent plot isn't fleshed out too well. Bottom line: it's boring, which is death for an action film and the story sure isn't going to carry much. I really wanted to like this movie, especially since I'd love to see Rothrock recapture some of that spark of her earlier career, but this just isn't the way. There's no spark or intensity, it's just a collection of action film clichés. Rothrock produced this movie, so maybe it's earnestly what she'd like to be doing, but I know there's better for her. Outside The Law will suffice if you're desperate to see her beating up some bad guys, but it just isn't very exciting or involving.

Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: The film starts off widescreened at 1:85:1, but then switches to full-screen, leading to the assumption that the film is not properly presented. This would make sense, given some of the poorly out-of-composition shots in the film. That aside, the source itself isn't all that great. It's heavily artifacted by grain, which softens the image quite a bit.

Image Transfer Grade: C


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Frenchyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby 5.1 track, while roomy and airy, isn't particularly vibrant or exciting. There's not much in the way of effects, surround or otherwise, but all the elements sound fine, without any distortion or harshness.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in Spanish, French, Korean, Thai with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The disc has no real features, beyond subtitles and the basic necessities.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

In a light sort of way, Outside The Law is O.K. 'rainy day' entertainment, but just isn't much of an action film. Rothrock fans will be firmly comfortable here, but there's nothing new or especially creative here.


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