The Kidd here...
We've all heard that one man's trash is another's treasure, and, while we all continue to scour the earth searching for the gems of the cinematic world, there must be out there on the other end of the spectrum, picking through the garbage for some type of entertainment. Enter Jon Doe, who's all about the critically unacclaimed. To say that he embraces the films we might usually cast aside is a bit of an understatement, because, as the rest of us stay up late at night watching movies that might enhance our overall knowledge, he's doing the same, only he's ignoring the best of the best for the worst of the worst.
He may watch a ton of crap, but, every once in awhile, he might find something "good." So, from here on out, it's all him, as his first entry into the world of painful movies takes him in the direction of the Dolph Lundgren's 1990 flick DARK ANGEL.
“I come in peace”
I know that for many, this may sound like an obscure statement that the average person might attribute to some war-ridden third world country’s presidential candidate’s political campaign. I could also see how one might think it to be the utterings of a foreign extremist-like looking individual trying to cross onto American soil. Strangely, neither of these are the case.
For me, and what I assume to be a small percentage of the human population at large, “I come in peace” vivaciously resonates in the mind with countless other popular 80s/90s cheesy kill phrases such as “Hasta la vista, baby”, “Yippee-Ki-Yay, motherfucker”, and “Get off my plane”.
Yes, “I come in peace” is a line from an old school action flick that literally knocked my pre-pubescent socks off.
I remember watching this film way before I know what masturbation was, a time when the big decisions in my life included choosing which shoes to wear to school and my major struggles were convincing my mom to let my best friend come over on Saturday. It was one of those films that went somewhat under the radar at the time, but for everyone who has had the chance to watch it, it stuck with you for years to come, like the repugnant smell of cigarettes on the breath.
If you’re looking for some cinematic masterpiece, complete with top notch acting, a superb script with lines delivered almost as excellently as they were written and a production value that rivals that of all those multi-million dollar award winning films, then you need not read further. This is not one of those films.
I could sit here and try to tell you what happens in the film, but sadly, the synopsis does the film no justice. Hell, I could tell you that DARK ANGEL is about a bad-ass cop named Jack Caine (Dolph Lundgren) who takes no shit in his quest to find the drug lords who murdered his partner in the opening moments of the film, but flicks like this have already been done. I could throw in the sci-fi twist that our main characters get involved with, telling you about the good alien (Jay Bilas)/bad alien (Matthias Hues) scuffle going on that complements the earthly conflicts at hand, as it involves the trade of otherworldly anesthetics, but you might think that to be stupid. Even speaking on the romantic aspects of the film might not sound enticing enough to get you lusting for this adventure, but know that the greatness of the film lies in the finer details.
Right off the bat, it’s got Dolph Lundgren, a man known for kicking ass both off- and on-screen for years. Hell, the guy was The Punisher and He-Man, not to mention, going toe-to-toe with Stallone in ROCKY IV as Ivan Drago. (How did no referee stop that fight?!) It’s almost like the man came out of the womb chewing his last stick of bubble gum. His performance here is no exception as he plays the cop who abides by no police handbook I’ve ever heard of, doing whatever it takes, whenever it takes it, to handle the situations of both terrestrial and extraterrestrial proportions. Oh, and gets to deliver one of the greatest (read: cheesiest of the cheesy) final kill lines ever. It’s simply spectacular.
As if his performance wasn’t enough, DARK ANGEL features one of the most amazing enemy weapon arsenals I’ve ever seen. Walking around with his pupil-less eyes, declaring the aforementioned maxim “I come in peace” at every somewhat free opportunity that he can, our bad alien, Tarec, kills his enemies with a high-speed, super sharp compact disc that slices the throats of his targets. Furthermore, he totally goes Scorpion (from Mortal Kombat) on his victims by extracting his desired substance (the contraband for which he comes to earth in the first place), human endorphins, via a harpoon like spear that he shoots into their heads. Then he’s got all kinds of alien guns that blow shit the fuck up. I get excited thinking about it, because it is understatedly awesome to watch him do what he does so well against his obviously unprepared extraterrestrial assailant, Azeck and the relatively infantile earthly police force trying to stop him.
Combining these elements, the film displays some of the pretty cool fight sequences smothered in cheese, not only of its time, but beyond as well. It’s chock full of that stupidity that made these older films what they are and such an enjoyment to watch.
Is it ridiculous?
But therein lies the beauty of it. It so excellently parodies reality and gives you the vacation from the mundane that started fantastical television and film to begin with. Sometimes an attempt to remain true to life is necessary, but there are those occasions when an excellently executed escape from realism, such as this film, is welcome. Luckily this is one of the movies that manage to succeed in delivering just that.
DARK ANGEL is the type of film that drives people like me. It was definitely a childhood treasure and revisiting it has definitely proven to be a nostalgic joy. It’s the search for the high that films like this spawned in me that fueled some of my all-nighters watching the obscure gems that I discovered at the East Village’s late, great, super-extensive rental warehouse, Mondo Kim’s video. Knowing that while the rest of the world is out there watching what the mass media tells them to, I can revel in the lesser-known masterpieces such as this one and, as your guide to some the unknown magnum opuses, I definitely suggest you give this one a go. It’s literally and figuratively out of this world.
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