Sammo Law, a top flight cop and hand to hand combat instructor from Shanghai, China comes to Los Angeles to search for a crime boss and a female undercover cop whom his department lost contact with. Once there, his temporary mission is turned into an ongoing exchange position and he is partnered with a pair of cops and is met with a clash in culture. As they battle the criminal elements of the city, his skill in martial arts proves to be a big help.
The show is largely inspired by the mid-90's Jackie Chan
craze, and the fights scenes are in the same vein of being fast paced and "blink and miss it" actions. Sammo Hung
is also a long time friend and frequent collaborator with Jackie.
Martial Law provides examples of:
- Acrofatic: Sammo.
- Amoral Attorney: One of the villains in early episodes .
- Ancient Conspiracy: One appear near the end of the second season and Sammo's son is one of the members
- Arch-Enemy: Lee Hei to Sammo.
- By-the-Book Cop: Amy, at the start of season 2.
- Cool Car: Sammo won a cool convertible that accidentally rolled into the bay during a fight The Teaser of one episode. He replaced it with a used taxi, to Terrell's disgust.
- Cliffhanger Copout
- Combat Pragmatist: Sammo, and his niece.
- Cross Over: Chuck Norris' Walker, Texas Ranger appears in one episode and Sammo appears in his show for the conclusion. Sammo later appears in an episode of Early Edition.
- The Danza: Sammo Hung playing Sammo Law.
- Detective Mole
- Doesn't Like Guns: Not that he doesn't like them, he just doesn't get one. Hand Waved as the brass being afraid things might get volatile if he had one. Don't think about it. Just don't.
- Even Evil Has Standards: In season two a crooked guard has no problem with threatening a city with a binary nerve gas to get a huge pay-off. When he finds out his partner plans to use it on the city whether or not they pay makes him try to stop him.
- Fair Cop: Just about.
- Fake Defector: Pei Pei does this to Lee Hei.
- Epunymous Title
- Game Show Appearance: In the first episode, Sammo furnishes his apartment by winning stuff in The Price Is Right.
- Heel Realization: Near the end of second season Sammo managed to talk his son out to make him think about his position in the secret society, without the audience knowing that he was successful.
- Hilarious Outtakes
- Improv Fu: The show has Sammo Law present this art in its finest form.
- Improvised Weapon: Not terribly surprising given Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan were contemporaries in the Peking Academy of Opera.
- Manchurian Agent: One episode features a group of people who were turned into these during their studies in East Germany. A criminal uses them as an Killer-for-hire service.
- Married to the Job: Sammo's co-workers are even afraid to tell him that he has to take a week off.
- Martial Pacifist: Sammo.
- Offscreen Teleportation: Terell apparently pulled this off, two bad guys thought that they pinned him down with gunfire, only for him to appear behind them with a gun on each hand.
- Prison Rape: Referenced when Sammo and Terrell go undercover in a prison. We're shown the shower, which pans over to Terrell showering with every single piece of his clothing on. At the end of the scene, he drops the soap, and watches the other prisoners cautiously as he picks it up.
- Reality Ensues: When Sammo leaves the airport in the first episode, he ends up in a con-man's taxi. The con man drives him out to a remote area, where he is surrounded by a half-dozen men and robbed, without fighting back. Because that would be stupid, seeing as they were armed and could've plugged him full of holes. When they get back from commercial, he's reporting the crime at the police station, and everything is recovered at the end of the episode.
- Re Tool
- Reverse Mole: Sammo's son apparently did a Heel-Face Turn and did his own gambit by shooting Sammo with a tranquilizer to bring him into the Supervillain Lair.
- Rule 34: Sammo's goes to a house looking for a suspect, and ends up in a meeting for people who are sexually aroused by engine vibrations.
- Token White: Louis in season 1, after Dana left. Amy during season 2.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Eveybody's surprised the first time they offer Sammo something to drink, and instead of tea he asks for Diet Coke; it usually happens Once an Episode.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: In episode "Cop Out" Sammo infiltrates into a group of policemen who kill criminals that have not been sentenced.