Friday, August 30, 2013

Dark Angel

  Every so often you come across a movie you've never heard about in a genre populated by movies you'd be better off not hearing about, and this movie ends up being really damn cool. Enter: Dark Angel (a.k.a. 'I Come In Peace') Dolph Lundgren in the spotlight, and at his finest. This is arguably on par with Showdown in Little Tokyo for sheer enjoyment factor if anything. It's essentially a buddy cop movie, with a sci-fi twist. Gotta love those. With lots of snarky wit and plenty of explosive action, Dark Angel more than makes up for it's tiny shortcomings and with gusto no less. The effects aren't state of the art, but they're unique, well executed and fun to look at. This is a movie for a lazy friday night in, easily marathoned with the likes of The Hidden (which edges out marginally as the better movie, despite many similarities), and Deep Rising (pre-Mummy Steven Sommers, putting giant tentacled creatures on a cruise ship).

  That's the kind of group of movies you can lump this in with. Though dare I say, of those, Dark Angel has the superior plot. In The Hidden (a movie I thoroughly love by the way) a parasitic alien comes to Earth, finds a host body and decides to steal fast cars, listen to rock and roll, do drugs and blow stuff up. Then another alien, teaming up with a local cop, comes to stop him. Deep Rising is well... Aliens on a cruise ship.
Dark Angel however is about an alien who's come to Earth to harvest endorphins from humans, which is known on other worlds as the purest drug in existence. Of course this Vigo the Carpathian looking fucker, doesn't give a shit that his brutal harvesting process is entirely fatal. (Would you like an extraction tube shoved into your skull? No?) It's up to Dolph and partner to stop the evil baddie and save the day.

  The movie balances it's two genres really well. On one hand, you have your typical cops vs. drug dealers story, and all the gunfights and such that you'd expect. On the other hand, you have something of a Terminator nature. A hulking unstoppable otherworldly menace, preying on people, leaving a trail of corpses in his path. He fidgets with his alien weapons and gadgets, bringing to mind the Predator actually. These little gadgets are used to great effect to convince us this guy is an alien, and not just a tall guy with white contacts in. They beep and hiss and have neat little built in lights. They look decidedly cool, very cool. Unfortunately, the villain is kind of a one-trick-pony. He's at his max scary level when he's chasing you or shooting at you. It all falls apart when you make him growl or linger around on screen too long. You realize the guy isn't as scary looking as you might've thought, and his 'alien' growling sounds pathetic.

  That's okay though because his 'space gun' seems to fire Michael Bay bullets. Everything freaking explodes. Like... you have no idea. Each bullet or laser blast or whatever, seems to have the explosive capacity of a hand grenade. Cars explode and fly across the screen in a frenzy of sparks and flame, and you think... woah. That's pretty cool. It's shameless overkill, but it's better than some shitty penciled in animated laser beams that only seem to knock people on their asses. Not to mention the gun is fully automatic. Do the math. It's epic stuff. Not to mention, it's extra cool because Dolph Lundgren is at home in this role. He has a personality. Cliche as it might be, it works. He's not a robot here, nor does the script require him to be. He's not some rogue cop with a tortured past. He doesn't carry a desert eagle, and he doesn't drive a ferrari. He's just a cop who likes to get shit done. We'll allow him the fancy karate kicks, okay? He has good chemistry with his co-stars and they sell it all real well. Granted, Dolph has some lines that are clunkers, but hey... don't kill the messenger yeah? Writer's fault. All in all, him and his preppy FBI partner are pretty damn fun to watch.

  As an action junkie, you won't be wanting after this. You have car chases, fist fights, an obligatory strip club scene of T&A ("I think all the blood is leaving my head...") and PLENTY of shootouts. All of it done with the style and technical proficiency of a movie that you'd never guess is rather low budget. It's technically sound. It looks great too. This is a movie that is completely understanding of what it is. Lowest common denominator entertainment. However, it's surprisingly well acted and the plot is nothing to shrug at either. I was very impressed. If you want some cheap B movie thrills that deliver exactly what those over-the-top VHS covers seem to promise (and rarely deliver...) you'd do well to check out Dark Angel. I really adore movies like this. Fast, bloody, and smarter than it has any right to be, this one kicks ass.

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