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I Come in Peace (Arrow Recommends)

I Come in Peace (Arrow Recommends)
8 10


Arrow Recommends is a column that has my sorry ass advise older movies to your royal asses. I will be flexible in terms of genres i.e. I will cover whatever the bleep I want. For now, it will be the way to keep my voice on the site.

PLOT: An intergalactic alien drug dealer (Matthias Hues) comes to earth with a peculiar M.O. on the fritz. To cause human beings to overdose on smack and then suck out the endorphins out of their heads with the intention of selling the fix on his home planet. Yup, you heard me...that’s the plot and I’m sober as I write this. With "doesn't play by the rules cop" Jack (Dolph Lundgren), his goodie-two-shoes FBI partner (Brian Benben) and a space cop with bad hair on his intergalactic tail, our “peaceful” alien friend has his hands full. LET THE FIREWORKS BEGIN!

LOWDOWN: I’ve always been a fan of I COME IN PEACE aka DARK ANGEL (get the deluxe Scream Factory Blu-ray here). It's a a fun, action driven and explosive romp that never stopped for a pee break! It’s what a B Movie should be all about i.e. ambition even on a humble budget. The film kind of went under the radar upon its initial theatrical release and the reviews were not kind. But over time the film has not only earned cult status but also some damn long overdue respect. Re-watching it today, I got to esteem it even more than I already did and here’s why!

First and foremost the premise was actually pretty f*cking original. I mean a drug dealer from out of space who rips off dealers on earth, provokes victims to overdose to then extract shit from their brain to sell it as a drug back on his home planet? Come on! You don’t hear that one everyday. Who the hell came up with that slice of genius? And more importantly what were they on when they came up with it? I want some! The script was written by Jonathan Tydor, but prolific screenwriter David Koepp (Jurassic Park, Mission impossible, Panic Room, Spider-man) was brought in for a hefty (un-credited) rewrite and to this day director Craig R Baxley attributes how well the film turned out to Koepp’s spit-shine. 

Speaking of director Baxley, he’s also one of the key reasons this ride so hit the H spot. Coming from a stunt coordinator/stuntie background and right off his directorial debut ACTION JACKSON starring Carl Weathers, Baxley brought his mammoth wam-bam experience to this one and milked his low budget as much as he could. The result? He filled the screen with as much in-camera mayhem as he could. You like real explosions? You’ll be BEYOND well served here cause the flick went Kaboom crazy! And to top that off, more often than none it was the actual actors doing the stunts. For example that epic bit where our the baddie runs on top of car hoods as they blow up one after another behind him was executed by the actor behind the role Matthias Hues. Damn. Impressive! Much respect!

And the same went for the many falls, crashes, chases and fisticuffs, which were all done safely (I assume, nobody died on that show…lol) yet for real (some poor dude did a spinning back kick straight to the face from Dolph after missing his mark and yeah the take is in the film). All that to that to nade-drop, the flick was a practical stunts extravaganza that had my jaw dropped as to the genius that was achieved and on a low budget no less. Baxley actually gave us three potent action charged gems: Action Jackson in 1988, this one in 1990 and the solid testosterone-fueled biker action flick Stone Cold in 1990. Not sure why after the latter he wound up in TV Movies land. But here’s to the lad returning to elevated action mayhem one of them days! “Raises glass of Whiskey”. 

What about the cast you may ask? Loved it. Dolph Lundgren was at his best as the jaded, “break all the rules” cop. Brian Benben made for a swell ying to his yang as the by the book FBI agent. Both men shared a well-oiled chemistry and made the “buddy movie” tendencies of the affair go down smoother than a BJ on prom might. Betsy Brantley did what she could with a meh role on paper and brought depth to it via her sly acting choices while Matthias Hues gave a showcase to remember as the tall, silver haired and menacing bad guy.  And the fact that he kept name-dropping “I come in peace” as he killed peeps left and right only added to the amusement.

Add to all that love a sleek look, cool as f*ck artillery (the guns in this film were nuts – I want one – and that killer CD? Nough said. ), a beautifully dated yet engaging score by Jan Hammer (who also did the catchy Miami Vice opening credits song), a FU attitude that greased me right, clever 90’s action one-liners (with that last one being the best) and a bleak sense of humor and you get an excessive bash at the B Movie Drive In.

Any peeves? Sure. Some of the dialogue was over peppered with cheese, but no biggie, I know what I’m watching over here and it ain’t Hamlet. Moreover, the acting was so-so by some of the side characters and the yuppie villains (The White Boys… yes I’m offended, somehow that’s racist, will tweet about it and have the film banned from the world – just kidding... the world we f*cking live in....) got on my nerves in terms of their cartoonish demeanor (same for Michael J Pollar's cameo while I'm at it - wanted to throw him out a f*cking window). But again, no drama.  

I guess the film’s worse sin is that it’s actually set during the Holidays but didn't run with it (outside of the opening). Can you imagine how much cooler this movie would have been if it had gone full on old school Shane Black on us with the X-Mas vibe? Missed opportunity right here (most likely due to budget restraints). On the whole though I COME IN PEACE came through once again! You craving a fast-paced, funny and totally out there action/sci-fi with all kinds of practical stunts for your bucks? Stop searching – go in peace with this one! PS: Where’s my sequel? Come on Matthias and Dolph, let’s do it again! :)

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