Sunday, 8 April 2018

Dark Angel AKA I Come In Peace (1990)

Although released towards the end of 1990, it's hard to think of a more brilliantly '80s action movie than Dark Angel AKA I Come In Peace. This has everything you could want from a Saturday night action film from that time, from the sharp fashions worn by our hero to the script that feels like an action movie cliche "greatest hits" mixtape.

Matthias Hues plays an evil alien, named Talec, who lands on Earth and starts leaving a trail of dead bodies in his wake. He pumps his victims full of drugs and then harvests the chemicals via a large needle that is stabbed in their head, with the end result being unsurprisingly fatal. Dolph Lundgren is Detective Jack Cain, a cop who ends up crossing paths with the alien as he tries to bring to justice the drug dealers responsible for the death of his partner. Cain is now partnered up with an uptight special agent named Arwood Smith (played by Brian Benben), but he won't let that stop him doing things his way. He's unorthodox but, dammit, HE GETS RESULTS!

If you measure Dark Angel up against a selection of outright cinematic classics (e.g. Casablanca, The Godfather, etc) then it's going to come up short. The script, written by Jonathan Tydor and David Koepp (using a pseudonym), is full of dialogue and characterisation that would make many cinephiles roll their eyes and chuckle, and the direction by Craig R. Baxley is competent, if a bit more restrained in places than I wanted it to be.

But it's also those exact same qualities that make the film so much fun. The action starts up quickly enough, the stereotypical leads are put in the right places at the wrong times, and there are enough set-pieces (either action or just showing the bad alien working on his plan) to keep things perfectly paced.

Although it's the general premise of the film that makes it such a fun ride, the other major plus point is Lundgren in the lead role. He remains a great action star but there are definitely some standouts in his filmography (and this is one of them). His performance is the one that carries the material from start to finish, other than Hues with his villainous turn. Benben is decent enough, but stuck in the role of unwanted partner who tries too often to stick rigidly to the rules, Betsy Brantley is as poorly served as you might expect the lone female figure to be in this kind of film, and Sherman Howard is underused as the head human bad guy Dolph really wants to get his hands on.

If you somehow missed this when it was first released then make up for that error now. It remains a lot of fun, especially for fans of Dolph.


There's a DVD here for UK fans.
Americanos can get it here.

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