Dark Angel (1990)
Directed by Craig R. Baxley • Written by Jonathan Tydor and David Koepp.
With Dolph Ludgren, Brian Benben, Betsy Brantley, Matthias Hues and Sherman Howard.
It might surprise many to discover that Dark Angel is a well directed slice of sci-fi-action junk that is emboldened by a sense of pace and an easy flow. Released in the United States under the shaky title of I Come In Peace, the movie is a lively recycling of better films, complete with a fun buddy-cop pairing and a low-rent James Cameron swagger.
Dolph Ludgren plays Jack Caine, a Houston detective on the trail of a 7-foot alien with a glam-rock haircut. Complete with 3 inches of platform shoes, said alien (Matthias Hues) is indiscriminately killing people by first administering a lethal dose of heroin before voilently collecting the endorphin juice from their brains, which is to be used or sold as a rare drug on his own world. If you’re seated with low expectations and the hope of a trashy time, the idea is bare-faced enough to lend a little lowbrow character.
After his partner gets a bullet by some local mobsters, Lundgren is buddied-up with Brian Benben, best known for his role on TV’s Dream On. A dopey-sounding Lundgren is well-supported by Benben, who appears to embrace the daft script and goes along with it. So too does Betsy Brantley in a small role as Lundgren’s disgruntled girlfriend.
Craig R. Baxley directs well, ensuring a sense of purpose alongside the preposterousness, with some clever camera moves that allow the film to occasionally punch above its weight. Ludgren’s acting isn’t convincing, but he’s mostly excusable, given the overall tone and willing support around him.
Dark Angel boasts an array of magnificent fireworks, car chases, space guns and multiple deaths by compact disc. It’s also colourful and self-aware enough to get away with the loose abandon with which it embraces genre cliché. Dumb fun. 3/5