|Dark Angel (1990)|
(aka I Come in Peace)
(Release Date: August 27, 2013) No, this is not the Jessica Alba series from 2000-2002. Released internationally with its original intended title "Dark Angel," but put out in the U.S. as the admittedly more fitting and memorable "I Come in Peace," this 1990 sci-fi/action film is one of those low-budget B-movies that would have likely been all but forgotten were it not for companies like Shout! Factory and its genre label Scream Factory coming to the rescue. Pitting Houston vice cop Jack Caine (Dolph Lundgren) and slight FBI agent Lawrence Smith (Brian Benben) against an albino alien invader (an inspired Matthias Hues) out to steal endorphins from the human race and stockpile a special drug made out of them, "Dark Angel" is junk food for action die-hards. Don't expect a hard-hitting story or even particularly good performances. Lundgren has the right looks and stature, but gets bad laughs every other time he opens his mouth; then again, few people could probably sell this dialogue without turning it into a farce. As pathologist love interest Diane, Betsy Brantley is asked to say baffling things such as, "I like abuse as much as the next girl." Meanwhile, the best (or worst?) exchange is saved for last. "I come in peace," the murderous alien says. "And you go in pieces," Jack replies in a climactic one-liner either criminally bad or plain genius. "Dark Angel" is a weird amalgam that flirts with the horror genre, especially when the bad guy is flinging what looks like dead compact discs into his victims' throats, but the picture is largely disposable and setting it during the Christmas season feels like a shameless bid to mimic "Die Hard."
The crisp high-definition picture presentation of "Dark Angel" guarantees that the film has never looked so spiffy since it was in theaters twenty-three years ago. Errant dirt and debris pop up sparingly, but otherwise this is an accurate representation of how it was meant to be seen. Now, to be fair, audiences shouldn't expect a miracleit is, after all, a $5-million film from a couple decades agobut just because it doesn't look like as sparkling, new and blemish-free as something like "Oz the Great and Powerful" doesn't mean it isn't impressive. Some shots, particularly close-ups of the actors, especially exhibit that special 1080p charm that brings appreciable dimension to the image. In regards to audio, consumers are offered two choices: the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and the original 2.0 track. Both are solid, with the sound effects of the pyrotechnics getting a bigger workout in the otherwise mostly front-heavy 5.1 mix and the dialogue sounding ever so slightly more clear and full-bodied in 2.0. Take your pick between the two; they're both solid.
"A Look Back at Dark Angel" Featurette with director Craig R. Baxley and actors Dolph Lundgren and Brian Benben (24:19,HD); Theatrical Trailer (2:43, HD); Poster and Still Gallery; Reversible Cover with Original "I Come in Peace" Key Art
There are undoubtedly fans of "Dark Angel" out there, but as someone who did not catch the film in theaters or on VHS and has no nostalgic affection for the title, it's pretty pedestrian stuff. As far as undiscovered gems straddling the horror-action divide, I'll take the more loopily entertaining "Ninja III: The Domination" over this one any day. Nevertheless, this Blu-ray release is about as close to a dream as one could ever hope to see from this little-known title. Without Scream Factory, "Dark Angel" might have been destined to forever gather dust in a Hollywood warehouse. Now, at least, it will be readily available for people to make up their own minds on its quality. In the meantime, the A/V components are satisfying and strong, while the newly produced featurette offers a bevy of interesting behind-the-scenes tidbits from director Baxley and stars Lundgren and Benben. I wish I could wholeheartedly recommend "Dark Angel" as a movie as much as I recommend the Blu-ray's technical side. Ultimately, it will better serve that select group who are already "I Come in Peace" (or Dolph Lundgren) converts. You know who you are.