The first couple of years during the nineties were filled with movies that were inarguably left over from the eighties. There were sequels to films from the eighties that would become franchises, such as Die Hard 2, but there were also movies like Men At Work, which I’ve always considered an eighties movie, despite the fact that it was released in the year 1990. And then, you have a film like Dark Angel, known stateside as I COME IN PEACE. Dark Angel takes all of the elements of genre greats of the eighties, and mashes them together in one bad ass Science Fiction romp, with Dolph Lundgren and Brian Benben(DREAM ON!) as your pilot and navigator, respectively. It took so long for this film to be released on DVD, that I never thought possible that one day, I would be sitting up at three in the morning one Saturday night, watching it on Blu Ray. It had been an extremely long time since I had seen it, so much so that I had completely forgotten about Brian Benben being Lundgren’s partner. I loved HBO’s sitcom, Dream On when I was a kid. Mostly because it was a great show, and even as young as I was at the time, I certainly identified with sitting in front of the television as a child while both of my parents worked 16 hour shifts, but also because I was going through puberty about the time that show started, and it was a show that featured copious amounts of nudity. I digress.
Dark Angel is a story about a rogue cop(surprise!), who, while seeking vengeance for the murderer of his partner, stumbles upon a drug dealer from outer space, that injects humans with a lethal dose of heroin, in order to harvest the endorphins(neurotransmitters) it creates in the brain. Apparently, on his planet, human endorphins are tantamount to the major narcotics on our planet. Following the path of destruction, it is also revealed that there is a cop from said planet, trying to catch the drug-dealing extra terrestrials before he lays waste to thousands of people. Eventually, as circumstances would have it, it becomes the sole responsibility of Lundgren and Benben’s characters to stop the alien’s killing spree, and at the same time, avenge the death of a cop. This is the type of movie that would never get made with the cinema landscape being what it is today. For the most part, nobody is making movies to be fun anymore. Everything has to be gritty and realistic. I’m not saying that I find these movies to be bad, but every now and then, I like to have a movie so over-the-top in concept, that it’s FUN to watch. This is the type of movie that those of you in my age group(30-35), grew up watching late at night on HBO, and renting multiple times from the video store.
One thing Dark Angel is not, is Dolph Lundgren versus the apocalypse. There is no alien invasion to speak of. There is just one alien baddie, and he has no desire to enslave our planet. For him, it’s all about the money, Lebowski. One could put forth the argument, I suppose, that in that regard, Dark Angel is itself a little more gritty and realistic than other alien orientated action movies of the eighties and early nineties. I could possibly concede to your point partially, but even still, it is very much not a serious film. It wasn’t designed to make you think, nor is it an examination of the human condition. It is a mash-up of elements from some of the better cop and alien films during those two decades. Immediately, you’ll think Terminator. Nobody has been sent back in time, but there is something hunting and killing people, and another something from the same place trying to stop him. If you’ve seen Lethal Weapon, Death Wish or Dirty Harry, you should be familiar with the crime thrillers that Dark Angel borrows from, heavily. There is, of course the character of Detective Jack Caine, played by Lundgren, who represents every other violent, thirsty-for-revenge rogue cop in cinematic history. There is the complete disregard for procedure, though at least at first, Special Agent Arwood Smith, played by Brian Benben, tries to inject some rules from the book into the investigation. And, of course, there is the angry, yelling police captain, Captain Malone, played by Jim Haynie. Haynie is responsible for some of the greatest line delivery and sarcasm in the film. When we’re first introduced to his character, he is giving Lundgren’s character shit for going off-the-grind for eight days. Not only is it one of the greatest lines in the film, but it becomes a running joke.
Dark Angel is not one of Scream Factory’s massive “SPECIAL COLLECTOR’S EDITION” releases. So, it is of no surprise that there aren’t tons of special features. There is, however, a pretty entertaining featurette, in which director Craig R. Baxley, Dolph Lundgren and Brian Benben are interviewed, taking a look back at the film. And, of course, there is the theatrical trailer, but that about does it for extras. This is a case where we should just be grateful that such a film was released by a distributor on the Blu Ray format. I realize that there are several home video distributors currently, some new, some old, that are battling it out for these catalog titles. But, as much as fans of this film have wanted a Blu Ray release(Previously, it went unreleased on DVD until the MOD was put out), this isn’t exactly a title I could see creating a massive bidding war between the different houses. Dark Angel/I Come In Peace fits the Scream Factory catalog perfectly. The video quality is great. Actually, as I took a quick potty break towards the end of the film, I left the disc paused on a scene where Dolph Lundgren was just knocked on his ass, and the level of detail was pretty impressive. I love it when we get a release like this, and it’s clear to me that the people that oversaw the transfer are fully aware that that gritty and grainy look is the way that I COME IN PEACE was intended to be seen. The Stereo DTS-HD Master Audio track is noteworthy as well. It might not have the multiple channels that would fill all angles of your living room up with the sound of a whizzing disc as it tears through neck after neck, but it is crystal clear. If you are a fan of this film, this is undoubtedly the best release of it that you are ever going to see. The default cover is of course, under the name Dark Angel. Those of us from the states that remember this movie from when it was first released to it, know it as I Come In Peace, and thankfully, Scream Factory have supplied that cover art as well on the flip side.
Dark Angel/I Come In Peace will be released on 8/27/2013, by Scream Factory. You can pre-order it here