Dark Angel aka I Come In Peace (1990): Breakdown by RANTBO
A drug smuggler from outerspace has come to Earth to blow up our cars and steal our happy thoughts. All that stands in his way: a Swedish beef-cake and a wimpy yes-man—our dark angels.
[THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THEIR BADASSITUDE]
Dolph Lundgren is Detective Jack Caine
Dickhead Sergeant: Caine, you’re the only man I know who’d rather die than break his word…
Dolph plays undercover vice detective Jack Caine, whose renegade tactics and insistence on following his violent, yet result-getting, gut instinct have just aided in getting his partner killed, sent his relationship with his girlfriend crashing onto jagged rocks and gotten him one forced vacation closer to being suspended—indefinitely. Could he be any more stock? Let’s check: Dresses like Cobra – Check. Aversion toward commitment with females – Check. Caution-to-the-wind approach to Miranda rights, court orders and warrants – Check. Taste for expensive wine, lofts and décor – Che—Wait. Just a minute… Oh, it’s 1990. Never mind. CHECK.
But in all fairness, Dolph’s version of the take-no-shit, hard boiled ‘Callahan-esque’ officer is every bit as entertaining and bad-ass as one would expect him to be. While I do admit his home life stylings left me scratching my head, Caine more than makes up for his dainty, playboy-esque habitat by not only breaking practically every law in the police handbook to bring about justice, but by also being a martial artist with a penchant for tittybars and billiards. And even though he falls a bit short of becoming the 90s version of our beloved fascist-cop archetype, he’s not too far off. Oh, and kicking the shit out of a seven foot alien bodybuilder also helped.
Brian Benben is FBI Special Agent Arwood ‘Larry’ Smith
Smith: I do my job, I do what I’m asked to do and I respect my superiors—THAT’S the difference between you and me! I’m a team player!
Caine: Well your team sucks.
Smith’s the wormy guy. By the book, anal retentive and prissy. And just look at that gun! Can you say, compensating? When you put a whiny, 5’5” suit-wearing government stooge and set him next to a stoic and imposing Dolph Lundgren, it’s kinda hard to see things from his point of view and get in the guy’s corner. Which is a god damned tattle-telling, by-the-book, dick-less corner, for peeing your pants in… Of course, this is a Buddy-Cop flick, so by the third act Smith has come around to accepting and even joining in on Caine’s renegade police tactics and stops being such a fuckin’ buzzkill. He also beats up a couple goons, all on his own. Which helped—a little. So while he’s far from being bad-ass, he does try awful hard to win over our acceptance late in the movie, and he makes Caine look just that much cooler by comparison so his character wasn’t a complete waste.
Matthias Hues is Talec The Bad Alien
Diane: Who is that guy!?
Caine: Some asshole from outerspace.
Well, just look at that creepy fucker. Even without the platform clodhoppers and white context lenses Matthias Hues is one dude who ought not be fucked with. Did I mention he’s an Alien drug dealer sent to Earth to test it’s human population farming potentials by killing as many people as possible and collecting their liquefied brains to sell on the alien black-market? ‘Cuz he is.
And Talec comes equipped with more than just your average, everyday dealer’s armament of knives, handguns and bitches. On top of a standard alien single-hand-held explosive-round machinegun, Talec’s accessories include a retractable harpoon and a 12 inch blade wrist-mounted all-purpose cannon with long-distance needle projectiles and a razor-sharp magnetized compact disc set to the frequency of the human electrical charge output. Not to mention his species apparently has the natural abilities of a thirty-foot vertical, advanced speed, dexterity and strength, and immunity to bullets. At least man-made ones. Which is pretty much all Caine and crew have, so—yeah. This guy is one bad-ass Martian motherfucker, right here. It’s a good thing for us primates that Detective Dolph’s got this one covered.
[THE SEX AND VIOLENCE]
DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO:
Caine: I think something’s wrong with your ball, Boner.
Smith: So that’s why we came here, huh? To pump Boner. Nice technique. It’s very “legal” AND you got SOO much outta him.
Smith: Procedure’s procedure, you’re still going on report for your mistreatment of Boner.
Is it terrific? I dunno, Dolph’s a pretty big guy… I know I sure as Hell wouldn’t want it publicly known if he “mistreated” MY Boner. OK—OK, Boner is actually the name of Caine’s informant, played by Michael J. Pollad. Though why he is named this is a question that was left unanswered by the film. Until now.
I personally choose to believe that this “pet” name for the disgruntled stoolie was simply made up on the spot by Caine and Smith as a way to outwardly express their innermost desires and sexual concerns. You see, up until this point, their short relationship had been filled with tension and mistrust, due largely in part to Smith’s anal retentiveness and Caine’s reckless “no foreplay” tactics to “getting the job done” (not actual quotes, just saying it how I see it). This reaches a peak for the newly formed couple when they visit ‘Boner’s’ home-away-from-home, a titty bar. Obviously this makes Smith feel awkward and fearful of what this location might entail to the partnership and this leads him to feel violated and abused. And by doing this to Smith, Caine is making a clear statement that he is in charge and has no qualms about “pumping” anything or anyone to get what he needs, thus solidifying his role as “the pitcher”, “the shot-caller, “the butch”.
Then by using the interrogation of Caine’s informant as a metaphor, Smith lets Caine know that his feelings have been hurt by this cold and insensitive tactic of declaring dominance. And later (after things have cooled down a bit), in telling Caine that his mistreatment of ‘Boner’ is ‘going to be reported’, he’s just letting Caine know that while the act is forgiven, it is NOT, nor will it ever be, forgotten.
That or the filmmakers just thought it would be funny to name a guy after a hard-on and have the leads talk candidly about it for laughs…
Naw—Caine and Smith are boning. I’m sure of it. They even drink wine and share clothes together later on! That’s a couple, no doubt about it.
EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY:
Diane: I like abuse as much as the next girl. (actual line)
Betsy Brantley plays Diane Pallone, Caine’s former girlfriend and homicide coroner. A nice and pretty enough lady, but she serves no purpose other than affirming that Jack is a man that can’t be tied down. Yet this doesn’t excuse her for getting between the odd couple of Caine and Smith. Way I figure it, she had her chance and blew it, dumping the gorgeous stud-muffin Jack just because he disappeared for eight days without a word. Not only that, but she slaps him like two and half times. What a bitch, amirite?
No, of course not. The misogyny clearly comes from the fact that this beautiful and successful woman is not only willing to forgive such nonsense from an abusive and sexually confused man, but also sacrifice her job to the mere mention of a vacation getaway relationship buy-back. Are all women so silly?
Well, most would agree that strippers certainly are, and Dark Angel’s got them too. Naked titties and all. Though I think the best, I mean, most shocking display of anti-femininity comes in the brutal killing of a female mechanic.
Not only is this woman clearly a model (signifying that only good looking women are to be accepted into the workforce while the uggos should stay home to broodmare), but she’s knocked down by Talec, has her shirt torn open and just when she thinks her womb is doomed, he penetrates her far more violently with a harpoon to the chest. And no amount of therapy can make that memory less painful. Not that she has to worry about it for long, ‘cuz then the alien shoves his 12 inch blade into her skull and sucks it out anyways. Along with a good chunk of the brain that housed it. When did chivalry die?
MURDER BY NUMBERS: [ 29 ]
Click HERE for the Body Count Breakdown
Holy explosions Dolph-Man! Seriously, wow. On-top of all the fiery death dealt from dozens of erupting cars and detonated buildings, there’s a whole lotta shootin’ going on. Most of which feature the alien’s explosion-causing hand-cannons with extended plot-convenience clips. Which decimate everything, especially humans. And cars. Cars with humans in them. Though most of the deaths are brought upon by Talec’s patented harpoon-to-chest, brain-suck method of extracting endorphins. He does that shit a lot. But, Dolph racks up three for his career total, so it isn’t a complete good-guy washout.
MOST SATISFYING ASS-KICKING AND/OR DEATH:
AVD: Alien vs. Dolph
After various attempts at a K.O. via martial arts, Caine learns the hard way that his close-quarters combat techniques won’t work so easily on extra terrestrials—so he tries a shotgun instead. But, after eight or so rounds to the chest, Caine succeeds in only pissing the Alien off and is forced to do battle with his Scorpion-esque harvesting harpoon. After a tense and sweaty struggle, Caine perseveres in staving off a fate worse than death (read: harpoon ocular rape), and shoves it back in the Alien’s face. Literally.
Talec: I win!
Caine: Fuck you, Space-Man!
As for what happens after that, see the next section.
[THE BEST OF THE REST]
EPIC MOMENT & BEST LINE:
AVDR: Alien vs. Dolph – Requiem
The aforementioned fight concludes, and in the best way possible. With Talec being impaled on a jutting pole, a cheesy one-liner and a giant explosion brought on by Caine turning The Bad Alien’s own weapon against him…
Talec: I come in peace…
Caine: And you go in pieces—asshole.
A feature-length set-up that doesn’t disappoint, you gotta love it.
The magical story of the hideous drug-smuggling alien and the dashing rebel officer’s quest to stop his siege on the good people of Houston, is a tale as old as time. Retold generation after generation in virtually every country across the globe, this enduring fable has also been known by many names, under many various cultures. For instance, here in the United States we know it’s current incarnation as I Come In Peace, and in Europe the delightful account is known as Dark Angel. Though, I can’t begin to imagine why…
Is the ‘Dark Angel’ Talec The Bad Alien? He has long flowing blonde 80s metal hair, which is often depicted in angel centric artwork. And he’s a bad-guy, who wears black clothing which would justify the ‘Dark’. Or is the title in reference to Jack Caine? Dolph Lundgren’s tall, hansom and Swedish, all things I could attribute to an ideal angelic creature (especially those abs, wowza). And he still had his jet-black hairdo from The Punisher, which could account for the “Dark” adjective. Plus he’s a hero, who bends the rules, but ends up saving Earth from untold terrors… yet still, is this really a connection most people would be willing to invest deep thought into? No. I think not. And while the title I Come In Peace sells the film a bit short by coming off as a little too cheesy, I’m going to go ahead and proclaim it as my preferred title of choice.
Now that that’s out of the way… Let’s talk about the story. Dark Angel is essentially a combination of 3 great 80s actioners; The Terminator, Predator and Lethal Weapon. In Terminator, two men (well; one man, one cybernetic organism), arrive from the future via a crater. One with an agenda to kill humans, the other to save them. Same is the case for Angel, only the “men” are from outerspace. In Predator, an alien seeks out human prey to bring back trophies to his home planet. Same is true for Talec, the Bad Alien. And in Lethal Weapon two mix-matched cops, a stiff and a wacko, are made reluctant partners, but over the course of a crazy investigation, become friends. Same is true for Caine and Smith. So the question becomes, does the sum of Dark Angel‘s parts add up to a satisfying and comparable watch? Strangely, yes. Yes it does.
While Dark Angel was released in 1990, the influence of the 80s was (obviously) still strong. The first thing Talec The Bad Alien does after arriving in “peace” is steal a shitload of heroin from a bunch of business-executive drug dealers (the same dealers that Vice Detective Jack Caine loses his partner to, in fact). Talec then uses the heroin on his victims, injecting it in massive doses directly into their hearts, causing a mad rush of endorphins to their brains, which he then sucks out through a turkey-baster blade-thingy. This of course hearkens back to the excess of violence and over-use the influence of drugs had had over the past decade. Especially with the yuppie cock-sucker business-executives. Which are represented superbly by their leader, Victor Manning (Sherman Howard).
So Detective Dolph’s cases become intertwined and the rest is bad-ass history.
As you can no doubt tell by the above picture, humor does abound in this flick, though it is surprisingly (and thankfully), mostly un-cheesy, as the ridiculous plot already has the project thickly coated. This noteworthy tactic of allowing the premise to supply the majority of the comic relief, has since been lost in recent years and is sadly missed in modern-day cinema…
Speaking of cock-suckers and Transformers, there are enough explosions in this movie to give Michael Bay a Michael J. Pollad . Not only that, but they are real and make sense within the context of the story. You know, the opposite of everything Bay has ever done. Directed by the legendary (at least to Bad-Ass Cinema fans), Craig R. Baxley, not only is the action fast, intense, hard-core and violent, it’s also extremely well shot. Of course, if you’re a fan of Action Jackson or Stone Cold, you already know that no one can shoot collateral damage like Baxley. The shrapnel simply shimmers. And by featuring top-notch, and often hilarious transitions, a fiery vehicle detonation every few minutes and a Blues Brothers-esque car chase through a mall, Dark Angel is no exception to Baxley’s bad-ass rule.
Now, about that bitchin’ CD gun. Apparently 1990 was THE year for bladed alien disc weapons, as not only were they featured here, but Predator 2 had one as well. And I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to assume that the beloved Revolution X arcade game owed Dark Angel a special thanks in their credits for the idea of literally making music a weapon. Though I don’t think anyone outside of the developers of the game would be able to supply verification as to the inclusion of said thanks, as who the Hell actually managed to find all five members of Aerosmith to get the full ending? Even being a fan of the band at that time, I couldn’t be bothered enough to learn the names of all five members, let alone waste my quarters searching around for them… Back on point: the gun. I really dug that gun. And this seems to be the point of the entire movie, as very little else is resolved, or explained.
Not to say Dark Angel doesn’t have a satisfying ending, it does, but the story does seem a little loose and sloppy. In an example of what I mean, here is a short list of un-answered questions: What planet did the aliens come from? Will there be more? The Good Alien, Azeck (played by Jay Bilas, a minor role) only tells us that if Talec is not stopped, his drug-smuggling buddies will surely follow. So, what happens now that he’ll never report back? Will they send a search party? Is there honor amongst outer-space endorphin thieves? Why did he keep saying, “I come in peace” before he butchered people, was this just his sense of humor? ‘Cuz he never once smiled. Was that indeed cottage cheese that Azeck was bleeding out of his stomach? How’s Caine going to explain shooting a high-level CIA agent in the head and leaving the body in a public fountain? Will Caine and Smith be able to patent the alien’s hand-cannon and become billionaire weapon manufacturing tycoons like Tony Stark, move to Rio and finally find Victor Manning? How did Dolph gets such fabulous abs? And why the fuck was this movie called Dark Angel!?
I guess we’ll never know for sure, as there’s unfortunately no sequel, or commentary on the VHS tape (go figure). One thing is for certain though, this movie rocks. Featuring Dolph Lundgren in his prime and shoving his enormous foot-up an evil alien’s equivalent of an ass, it’d be hard-pressed not to. And that’s without the stellar direction, groovy score, strippers, CD gun and a guy named Boner. All-in-all, if you can find this nearly forgotten gem, on any format, consider yourself the claimant of lost action gold and buy the thing. It’s sure to at least but a smile on your face and a give your nuts at least a couple good pumpings.
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
E.T. is not your friend, he’s a drug dealer. And drug dealers are not your friend.
[THE AOBG ACTION CHECKLIST]
[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[ ] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[X] Crotch Attack
[ ] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[ ] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[X] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[ ] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[ ] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[ ] Manly Embrace(s)
[X] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting [Al Leong]
[ ] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[X] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[ ] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[X] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[X] Tis The Season [Christmas]
[X] Torture Sequence(s)*
[ ] Unnecessary Sequel
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[X] Vigilante Justice
*The gruesome and drawn-out way in which Talec harvests his drug counts in my book.
[TOTAL: 16 outta 25]
Dark Angel (1990) © VISION p.d.g. / Review © AllOuttaBubbleGum.com and Ty ‘RANTBO’ Hanson