Directed By Craig R. Baxley
Distributed by MGM Studios
I first became aware of this movie in the summer of 1990, I believe, as it was being previewed on “Entertainment Tonight”. It immediately caught my interest because it was a Dolph Lundgren movie and for the fact that to this day the only memory I have of that preview is of the bad alien, played by Matthias Hues, behind the wheel of a police car, with the driver’s side door missing, and how calm and collected he looked as he drove it. I also remember his white eyes.
The next memory I have is seeing it in the theater and the reels in the final twenty minutes getting fucked up. Brian Benben’s head was on the bottom of the screen and the rest of his body was on top. I went out to the lobby to find someone to correct it, but there was no one around. I left with intentions of seeing it again a few days later. Never made it to that second screening, for as I headed off to the theater, I remembered there were two friends waiting for me at this local hangout, one of whom became my eventual girlfriend, and at the last minute I blew off the movie to hang with them.
Okay, that ends the nostalgia portion of this review; now on to the movie. Anyone who remembers this sci-fi/actioner may know it under the title I COME IN PEACE. I had no idea it had another title until Anchor Bay released it on VHS in the late 90s. DARK ANGEL is apparently the name it originally went by, but when it finally got released here in the States, it was changed at the last minute to the phrase the bad alien utters right before he kills. I prefer the US title; it’s a better fit than its original moniker.
Dolph Lundgen plays Jack Caine, a Houston detective who pretty much plays it fast and loose with his job, disappearing for days on end and showing up for work when he pleases. This attitude also wreaks havoc on his love life; he’s got a thing going with the coroner, Diane Pallone, played by Betsy Brantley. To make matters worse, in the opening act a stakeout goes horrible wrong, resulting in the death of his partner by the White Boys, white-collar criminals who deal in drugs, money and guns.
And just when things couldn’t get any worse, some really weird shit goes down at that stake out when Lundgren decides to deviate from the plan and apprehend a couple of drugged up douchebags who try to rob the convenience store he’s parked next to. But that’s not the really weird shit. While he’s doing that, and right after his partner was just killed, the remaining White Boys who are left to mop up the body are taken out by an alien who kills them with his nifty device that reminded me of the one the alien used in WITHOUT WARNING. Except here the weapon isn’t a biological organism but a lethal looking CD that flies across the room and ricochets off walls and bodies as it completes its mission of slitting everyone’s throat.
The Feds show up and partner Caine with by-the-book G-man Arwood Smith, played to perfection by a favorite actor of mine, Brian Benben. Yes, he’s basically the comic relief, but when the shit hits the fan, he’s able to kick ass and shoot a gun, even an alien one, competently I might add.
The bulk of the flick is about Caine and Smith trying to get along, eventually becoming friends as they track a series of mysterious deaths, ones that result in the bad alien pumping human victims with cocaine to stimulate the production of endorphins in the brain, which are then sucked out by more alien tech and stored in a portable freezer fanny pack. See, this alien is basically nothing more than a drug dealer, and these endorphins are his version of extraterrestrial crack-cocaine.
Caine and Smith aren’t alone in their hunt either. An alien cop has followed the drug dealer to earth, and while Caine and Smith are doing their detective work and bickering, these two are trying to blow each other into the stratosphere with their alien guns. Trust me, these guns are cool! Wish I had one. Interesting to note IMDB actually has names for these two outer space interlopers: The “drug dealer” is called Talec, and the “cop” is called Azeck, but nowhere in the film are their names uttered.
This has always been a favorite Lundgren movie of mine, and I wish it had gotten a better transfer on MGM’s MOD (Manufacture-On-Demand) Program. The transfer they burned is dark. I wouldn’t recommend watching it in the day, especially in a room where the sun is cascading in. I watch all my movies at night, however, in a room where the only light is from the television, but I did manage to put it on when I first got it, as I always do, just to see how the transfer looks.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not unwatchable; it just could be better. There are some audio issues, too. Mainly in the scene after Caine and the police are in the club looking over the dead bodies of the White Boys. There’s some hissing for a few moments, but then it goes away. DARK ANGEL is also available in the UK, and I’m curious now as to what that transfer looks like. Making a mental note to some day pick it up and compare.
The trailer is also included and that, too, looks as dark as the film.
5 out of 5
1 out of 5