DVD Review: Dark Angel (1990)

OCTOBER 25, 2011


AT LONG LAST! I have been bemoaning the lack of I Come In Peace on DVD ever since they started releasing library titles on the format, and… well, I still haven’t gotten it. No, MGM has actually gone back and put the film out on disc (via their “on-demand” service) under its original title: Dark Angel. Personally I think I Come In Peace is the better title, and it’s certainly the one most people know it under by this point (plus no one will confuse it for a stupid Jessica Alba show), but who cares what it’s called? It’s here!

And this isn’t some lame VHS transfer – the film is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and enhanced for widescreen TVs, which means that not a single frame of this amazing movie has been compromised. It’s a pretty good transfer too – nothing award worthy, but there’s detail and vivid color that I had long since forgotten about, and the stereo sound makes U-Krew’s “Ugly” sound better than ever. The trailer is also included, and while it spoils way too many of the film’s awesome lines, it does have the best opening voiceover. “It’s Christmas. Someone special’s coming to town. And it’s NOT Santa Claus!”, which followed by an equally hilarious “Jack Cain. A cop who does things his OWN way!”

But the movie itself is the real bonus. Not only is it possibly the pinnacle in Dolph Lundgren’s career, Dark Angel is simply an awesome movie in pretty much every way. It’s from 1990, but few films define the 80s as well as this one. You get pretty much every generic action movie plot (revenge for partner killed, mismatched partners, drug dealers, and for the hell of it, aliens) rolled into one, and all the usual plot devices (cop being taken off the case, girlfriend who is sick of the hero’s lack of commitment, etc.) to boot. But through it all, the plot is actually pretty original – an alien drug dealer (!!!) has come “in peace” to Earth, in order to extract endorphins from human beings and mix them with heroin, which creates an incredibly potent drug that he will presumably sell on his homeworld to alien crackheads. There’s also a good alien out to stop him.

Dolph, of course, is the cop. He teams up with Brian Benben (then sort of popular due to Dream On; I recall the audience cheering with laughter when he was first introduced), making it one of the few white/white buddy cop combos as well. Dolph even has his hair dyed black (leftover from The Punisher), so they don’t even have different hair colors. But Dolph is of course, a supercop who plays by his own rules, and Benben is a bureaucratic nebbish who wears a suit and won’t drink on the job. But even this is played against type; instead of the usual messy apartment with pizza boxes lying all around, Dolph’s apartment is pretty ritzy, and he has vintage wine to offer. We never see Benben’s place though, but maybe his was a shithole, to offer another difference.

I also love how the drug dealers in the movie are presented as white collar yuppies. They have a boardroom and everything. Dolph infiltrates their headquarters by setting off their car alarms, which sends them all into a panic. Then the head dealer guy (played by Bernard from Lost!) bemoans how his partner had to fly coach on a recent flight to Rio. Hahaha, awesome.

Speaking of Rio, he’s there because he killed Dolph’s partner (Dolph got distracted by a liquor store robbery, a scenario sort of lifted by Seagal in Out For Justice). And he’s still there at the end. The dead partner turns out be a Macguffin, a rarity in a B-movie like this. However, at the end of the film Dolph suggests they vacation in Rio, so maybe I Also Come In Peace will just be about that, without any alien shit whatsoever.

And of course – the weapon: KILLER CDS! When I was 10 I had no appreciation for the foreshadowing in the first scene, in which a yuppie fiddling with his CD player is “attacked” by an overzealous eject CD button (as a kid I was just mesmerized by the idea of a CD player in the car; I don’t think the family car even had a tape deck at this point). It doesn’t get used much in the film, but when it does, oh man. Has there ever been a more awesome weapon in a movie? It even got ripped off in the game Revolution X.

One last thing I must mention, because someone will bitch if I don’t – the film’s final exchange between the alien and the Dolph. For the final time, the alien says “I come in peace!” (which is all he ever says in the movie; though the other alien seems to have a pretty good grasp on the English language), and Dolph, after loading up the cool-ass alien gun (not the CD one though; which would have been more awesome but lacked an explosion), replies “And you go in pieces, asshole.” It’s the “asshole” that really sells it, but in theaters it was hard to hear because everyone was already cheering and laughing from the first part of the line. But if you think about the greatest one-liners of the type in history, they are all punctuated by profanity: “Smile you son of a bitch.” “Get away from her you bitch!” “Yippie Ki Yay mother fucker!”, etc. Dolph just happened to have one that was awesome even without it.

What say you?


  1. God I loved this movie. "Hey, it fits!" "It should. It was mine when I was twelve."

    Watch it back to back with Split Second, which is pretty much identical except instead of an alien it's the devil or something. If you can finish both without running out to immediately karate kick and/or shoot something, you are a better man than me.

  2. I love this movie. It’s a total gem. It has great action, one liners and a sense of fun you just don’t get anymore. And I only realised that the evil drug dealer at the start was played by the Sherman Howard (Bub from Day of the Dead).

    I also love the random moments, like when Dolph’s boss gets really angry at him for disappearing. “You’ve been gone for eight days Jack. A week I could understand but EIGHT FUCKING DAYS!” like the extra day really makes the difference. Or the whole “One, two, three” countdown Dolph gives his partner when he annoys him. You assume he’s going punch him out but all he does is gently push him against a car and tell him he sucks.

  3. Hell yeah. Love this flick, too. Every year for Halloween I host a big triple feature party. I try to theme it. Last year's theme was "Illegal Aliens". It was this, "They Live", and "The Hidden". This was the only one I had to show from a VHS copy.

    BTW, my girlfriend would kick your butt if she heard you smack-talk that Jesscia Alba show. Just saying...


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