Sunday, July 14, 2013

Blu-ray Review: DARK ANGEL (1990) aka I COME IN PEACE

DARK ANGEL (1990) 

Label: Shout! Factory / Scream Factory
Release Date: August 27th 2013
Region Code: A
Rating: R
Duration: 91 Minutes
Video: 1080p Widescreen (1.78:1)
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, 2.0 with Optional English Subtitles 
Cast: Brian Benben, Dolph Lundgren, Betsy Brantley
Director: Craig R. Baxley
Tagline: It's Not a Close Encounter... It's the Last!

I thought for sure I had watched this 1990 sci-fi actioner before but quickly realized just a few minutes in that this was simply not the case, I would have remembered Brian Benben (HBO's Dream On) for sure. What it all boils down to an 80's buddy-cop film with some fun sci-fi featuring street tough Houston officer Jack Caine (Lundgren, Red Scorpion) whose partner dies during an undercover drug deal with the White Boys drug cartel when Caine is distracted by robbery in progress. The White Boys henchmen are wiped by a 7 ft  white-eyed weirdo who arrives on scene and makes short work of the baddies with CD-slinging weaponry before running-off with the cache of dope. if you loved that goofy Cenobite from Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth (1992) that similarly fancied the digital compact disc as a weapon you will love this.

After the botched deal leaves his partner dead Caine's captain is furious with the officer's loose-cannon methods and relieves him from case but when the White Boys steal a shipment of heroin from police lock-up facility and blow it up he's put back on the case and assigned a new partner, the straight-laced FBI agent Larry Smith (Benben) and the two set out to sleuth the murder/heroin cases while exchanging comedic barbs with each other. Lundgren's tough-guy cop persona and Benben's sycophant FBI agent characters play well of each other, it's a great buddy-cop schtick and while it's not quite Lethal Weapon it's fun stuff.

Turns out that the 7 ft weirdo whom massacred the White Boys crew is an drug dealer from outer-space, no shit! His name is Talec (Matthius Hues) and he comes across as part Highlander (1986) and part Predator (1987), he's arrived on Earth to harvest human endorphins which he plans to synthesize into a drug and peddle throughout the galaxy. To this end Talec injects his victims with the smack via a sharp-tipped cable that penetrates their chest, then harvesting the endorphins by thrusting a spike, which pops out of his gloved-hand, straight into their forehead and siphoning off the smack-fueled endorphins. Trailing the extraterrestrial drug-peddler to Earth is a alien cop named Azeck (Jay Bilas) who makes contact with his earthly counterparts enlisting their aid in apprehending Talec. 

The performances are what you might expect from a 80's buddy-cop sci-fi actioner, maybe even a little bit better. I really enjoyed Benben here as the comic foil to Lundgren, who doesn't come off quite as stoic as he has in some of his other film roles, tossing off a few good Schwarzenegger-esque one liners, good corny stuff, very 80's. You're probably not watching this film for the performances though, what you wanna see shit blow-up real nice and the film delivers non-stop action from start to finish.

Director Craig R. Baxley worked second unit for directors Walter Hill (The Long Riders) and Don Siegal (Dirty Harry) and the man knows a thing or two about shooting action sequences  additionally he was a stunt coordinator on The Warriors (1979) and Predator (1987) so we get some great in-camera stunt work thrown up on the screen, you get pretty much everything you could want from an 80's sci-fi actioner minus some gore, which is pretty absent throughout. If you don't think about it too much there's not a lot to complain about here, the one things that irked me was the unnecessary love interest who's just squeezed into the story with very little to do, otherwise it's a pretty painless watch.

Blu-ray: Dark Sky (1990) was previously only available in the U.S. as a manufacture-on-demand DVD only from MGM so it's great to see this sci-fi action film get a nice Blu-ray release from Shout!Factory imprint Scream Factory. Presented in 1080p widescreen (1.78:1) the film gets a MPEG-4 AVC encode and is sourced from a very nice print, there are some minor imperfections visible from time to time but overall we get a very solid presentation with strong colors, a very decent hi-def presentation from Scream Factory, yet again. 

The English language DTS-HD Master Audio comes with choice of 2.0 stereo or 5.1 surround mix and it sounds quite nice even if there are no surprises, the 5.1 has more of a presence that the 2.0 with some use of the surrounds but it's pretty tame.Dialogue and effects sound are balanced nicely plus Jan Hammer's synth-heavy 80's rock soundtrack is just awful but in an awesome retro-Miami Vice sort of way, it wouldn't sound out of place on an Astron-6 film. 

Onto the special features we get a A Look Back at Dark Angel (24:17) with interviews from director Craig R. Baxley and actors Dolph Lundgren and Brian Benben. The director reflects on the David Kopepp penned script, meeting Dolph and casting the film while Benben seems to mostly remember being physically hurt by Lundgren on set. Dolph himself speaks fondly of the film, recalling the work of the director and the great in-camera stunt work. We also get a reversible sleeve of artwork featuring the alternate title of "I" Come in Peace, a trailer and an image gallery, it's not the most robust set of features from Scream factory but I'm pretty jazzed just to have it on Blu-ray, a fun film.

Special Features: 
- A Look Back at "Dark Angel" Interviews With Director Craig R. Baxley And Actors Dolph Lundgren And Brian Benben (27:14)
- Theatrical Trailer (1:14) 

- Photo Gallery (4:06)

Verdict: Dark Angel (1990) is a pretty brainless sci-fi actioner and that's alright by me, an entertaining romp with some fun buddy-cop comedy and enough fiery action to stop you from thinking about what's going on, released at the start of the 90's the film is certainly entrenched in the 80's style of action and sci-fi, a trashy slice of fun with some decent carnage. 
3 Outta 5