Does Shout! Factory’s ‘Dark Angel’ (aka ‘I Come In Peace’) Blu-ray Go In Pieces? [REVIEW]

Tout le cine

Dolph Lundgren’s a cop playing by his own rules who finds the rules have changed when an alien drug dealer attempts to rule the streets of Houston–at Christmas!

It’s “Dark Angel,” the 1990 riff on buddy cop films, “Terminator,” “Predator” which is coming to Blu-ray later this month from Shout! Factory in a pretty spiffy disc.

“Dark Angel,” known among the late-night cable and VHS set as the more appropriate “I Come In Peace,” was the second feature directed by longtime stunt coordinator Craig R. Baxley. Baxley, who put in time directing episodes of “The A-Team” before stepping things up with the incredibly nuts Carl Weathers/Craig T. Nelson/Vanity joint “Action Jackson” (wherein our hero murders the villain with his car), and “I Come In Peace” is no different in its level of action/comedy tropes cranked up to 11.

Dolph Lundgren plays Houston cop Det. Jack Caine, whose partner is killed in a drug bust gone wrong with the deliciously evil yuppie White Boy gang (in a weird plot tangent that actually gets ignored somewhere in the back half). When an otherworldly visitor (Matthias Hues) makes off with all of the heroin from the crime scene (and kills a couple of White Boys on his way out), Caine’s just this close to suspension, on the wrong side of both the White Boys and his pathologist ex (Betsey Brantley), and worse, he’s forced to partner up with by-the-book Fed Special Agent Smith (Brian Benben).

High art, it isn’t, but Baxley–working from a screenplay by Jonathan Tydor and Leonard Maas Jr. (with work by “Spider-Man” and “Mission: Impossible” screenwriter David Koepp)–is one of those guys who knows the craft of cutting and shooting a film. And that’s essential. “I Come in Peace,” as silly and broad as it can get, remains a lean action movie at 91 minutes, racing along at a rapid clip from one explosive setpiece to another. Even by 1990 dollars, Baxley’s $5 million wasn’t a lot to work with, but he throws his very game actors into the middle of it and they bring 110% to their roles.

Lundgren is the MVP here, clearly having fun with the role as a wise-cracking cop who occasionally gets to dole out roundhouse kicks to drug dealers and street criminals. He and Benben don’t exactly have a natural chemistry (this isn’t Murtaugh and Riggs, you understand), but both actors were willing to run at full speed away from last-minute fireballs and you have to respect that.

Again, “I Come In Peace” moves along so quickly, you don’t really get a chance to pay attention to the seams. It’s just one fun section after the next (with the briefest of love scenes thrown in) before lurching towards another synth rock-scored moment of violence.

Special features

While it would have been nice to get some commentary or maybe a word from the film’s writers, the 24-minute featurette looking back at the making of the film is still a highlight for Shout! Factory’s disc. Let’s see what else is on there:

  • A Look Back at “Dark Angel” (24:19, HD): In separate interviews, director Craig R. Baxley and stars Dolph Lundgren and Brian Benben talk about the stunts and making of the film. Baxley reveals that the $5 million budget was stretched to the breaking point with his liberal use of explosions throughout the film, plus we learn that star Matthias Hues (a real-world Olympian) is really good at outrunning fireballs. There’s a slightly sloppy piece of editing at the start of the featurette, beginning mid-word Baxley’s opening statement about the film.
  • Theatrical Trailer (02:43, HD):
  • Poster and still gallery

“Dark Angel” will be available on Blu-ray from Shout! Factory on August 27.