Friday, February 17, 2006

I Come In Peace (aka Dark Angel) - Cinematic Cheese Series: #4

Sometimes you just know from the outset that a film is going to be great. Perhaps it’ll be a schoolgirl sleepover that ends in a mysteriously terrifying way as in Ringu. Or a couple of out of work actors knocking back lighter fluid as in Withnail And I. Maybe even the flowing tears of a Jeff Fahey in Revelation. Or a high speed car journey through the desert ala Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas.

I Come In Peace (aka Dark Angel) also falls into this category. Not only does the opening scene feature an unsuspecting man getting blown up by an eight foot tall alien, but the following scene has a criminal stealing a bunch of illegal substances from police HQ then blowing the building up (the blowing up of things and people will be a recurring theme in this movie). Then to top that off, as if any additional ingredients were needed, the very next scene has a slightly miffed Dolph Lundgren sitting in this car drinking coffee. I really couldn’t have envisioned anything superior.

This film, made in 1990, before Lundgren’s The Punisher black hair-dye had washed out, concerns a plot that surely must have been formed in the golden cauldron of cinematic delights back in the dawn of eternity. Lundgren plays Jack Caine, a harsh, rebel cop, who doesn’t play by the rules, but by hell gets the job done. He don’t lay down for no establishment, no authority is gonna order him about; he’s a man of the world, a PHD holder from the school of hard bastard knocks. An unexplained spate of mob murders leads him into the murky world of alien drug-ringing, yes turns out a large alien looking like Chris Lambert in Mortal Kombat is running around killing mob people and civilians in order to extract some sort of brain mush from their skulls. It’s up to Lundgren to stop the fucker.

Co-starring with Lundgren is the delectable Brian Benben as a whinny fed assigned to make sure Lundgren doesn’t go mad and start taking his testicles out. It’s a good partnership, one which, in the vein of classic team-ups, starts off despondent and hostile, but soon develops into the type of camaraderie that we’d expect from Danny Glover and Mel Gibson (except they’re getting too old for this shit), or Charlie Sheen and Clint Eastwood. And the alien guy’s pretty cool too, strolling around the neighbourhood killing passer-by’s with rampaging compact discs.

I first discovered this film one fateful evening last year. I had been watching a film by the name of Renegades starring Kiefer Sutherland and his old buddy Lou Diamond Philips, an old VHS that had been ripped from the eons of antiquity from an ancient video shelf. As my acquaintance and I finished laughing our gall bladders out our femurs, we noticed that the tape did not stop, oh no, it did in fact continue to play. Turns out there was another film on that there plastic. It was none other than Dark Angel (the UK title). And what a joyful time we had viewing it, turned out to be even better than Kiefer’s moustache!

It’s interesting to think how film premises are worked out and developed, what genesis leads to a film being made. Often it’ll come from a literary product (I read the other day that something like 30% of all movies are literary adaptations), maybe an idea of giving a famous actor a vehicle for him or her to show off whatever their particular niche talent may be. Rarely does a film originate from such profound and enlighten areas of thought as the one-liner. I Come In Peace is one such article. Our big bad alien dude, as he comes across a potential human victim, will often say the following words, “I come in peace.” There’s no reason for this, he isn’t luring them into a fall sense of security like in Mars Attacks, they’re right there, he doesn’t need to use intellectual tactics like that. No, the only reason for this plot point is so that at the penultimate stage of the movie, when the big epic final battle is taking place in what looks like a reject derelict from Darkman, the alien can say those wistful lines and Lundgren can hit back with the rejoinder, “And you go in pieces, asshole!”

It’s poetry right there running across your jowls. It makes sense, base a film around a cheeseball line your main character gives before he blows up the bad guy.

And that brings me back to the central theme of blowing stuff up. A good alien shows up on earth to try and stop the bad one (I know, this reads like Balzac). The aliens possess handguns that act more like the gatling guns of a warship; they’re the most over-the-top piece of film weaponry I think I’ve ever seen. And they’re brilliant for it. The guns can reduce a fine, upstanding concrete wall to the sort of dust found at the bottom of a Rice Krispies packet, infernal dust that ends up afloat on the surface of your milk.

And what of Lundgren asks yee? He’s in fine thespian form, just watch as he attempts to shake his dead partner back to life with cries of “come on!” Usually these kinds of resuscitation fail, and this was no different, but I’m sure if anyone could break the circle of mortality it would be Dolph Lundgren. Perhaps Lundgren is existence, I’m not sure, where’s Sartre when you need him? Probably riding the bumper cars in Brighton, or watching an imported DVD of Body Melt.

Concluding remarks, this film stands up there, shoulders back and head raised proud, a posture to rival Aristotle, right up there with the likes of The Punisher 89 and Commando, as a genuinely brilliant piece of fun movie cheese. It may not have quite the level of stupidity of Frank Castle’s adventures, or the sheer scope and magnitude of quotable lines from the John Matrix situation, but it nevertheless proves itself a hilarious zenith for films where big humanlike aliens come to Earth and pissed off rogues must an end to their massacring ways, well it sure as hell beats Suburban Commando.


Blogger midnitcafe said...

Seriously I spent the review wondering when you would get to the "And you'll go in pieces line"

I'm amazed, or ashamed, at the number of these cinematic cheeses I have actually watched.

3:47 am  

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