Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Dark Angel - Scream Factory Blu-ray Review

Director: Craig R. Baxley
Writer: Jonathan Tydor, Leonard Maas, Jr.
Stars: Dolph Lundgren, Brian Benben, Betsy Brantley, Matthias Hues, Jay Bilas
Year: 1990
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Studio: Scream Factory
Region: A
Alternate Title: I Come In Peace
Buy it from: Amazon

The Humans
  • Jack Caine () - Hard-ass cop who plays by his own rules. See: Every lead cop in a movie since 1968. Favorite Fight Move: Overly Graceful Roundhouse Kick
  • Arwood "Larry" Smith () - Caine's by-the-book partner who provides much of the comic relief. Weapon of Choice: Smarm
  • Victor Manning () -  Leader of the notorious White Boys gang. Terrible at: coming up with gang names.
The Aliens
  • Bad Alien ( ) - Alien drug dealer with an amazingly metal haircut who gets his supply on the cheap by embezzling endorphins from human brains.
  • Good Alien ()- Intergalactic Narc who looks like Clint Howard with an unbraided Manchu haircut. Could've ended this movie in about 3 minutes if he'd have taken a couple of seconds to line up a shot. By the way, I'm not being a lazy idiot here, the credits list them as "Bad Alien" and "Good Alien". I think their names might've been Tarmac and Melmac or something, I don't know, I think there was an "ac" or "ec"at the end of the names.

The Story

Jack Caine (Dolph Lundgren) is a badass cop whose partner is killed during an undercover drug deal with the ridiculously named "White Boys" gang - a gang comprised of a bunch of Yuppies who drive Ferraris headed by, get this, Sherman Howard. That's right, The White Boys leader is none other than Bub the fucking zombie.

As Caine and his new by-the-book partner Smith (Brian Benben) attempt to bring the White Boys to justice, they discover a much greater threat; an evil alien who has come to Earth in search of an endorphin found in the human brain. On his planet, this endorphin is highly sought after due to it's mind-altering properties. Yes, it's as dumb as it sounds, this guy is an alien drug dealer and Caine and Smith must team up with an alien cop to stop the evil alien's path of destruction.

Dark Angel is a mix of ultra-violent sci-fi action in the vein of The Hidden and any number of mismatched buddy cop comedies from the 80's, let's go with...I don't know, Beverly Hills Cop II. It's not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, but it's so filled with action and humor and moves at such a quick pace I hardly had time to notice the flaws.  The action is pretty remarkable for the budget, and while the plot is a bit on the daft side the film somehow still totally works and I found myself completely engaged by it throughout the entire running time.  It's just a genuinely enjoyable film with well-shot action scenes, an intense villain and plenty of effective comic relief from Lundgren and Benben (HBO's Dream On). In my opinion, Dark Angel is one of the best overlooked sci-fi/action gems of the early 90s.

The Disc
Scream's presents the film in a AVC encoded 1080p 1.78:1 transfer that looks solid if not spectacular.  Sound is also very solid and is available with both DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and DTS- HD Master Audio 2.0.

The list of features isn't very long, but the 24 minute long A Look Back at Dark Angel feature is pretty great. It's a lengthy set of interviews with Baxley, Lundgren and Benben. All three guys have a great deal of affection for the film with Baxley especially proud of his work. Also included on the disc are a theatrical trailer and a poster & still gallery.

The hottest female mechanic you'll ever see is shown in a bra briefly before getting her head impaled quite brutally on Bad Alien's endorphin extracting spike. For the ladies out there you get an extreme closeup on Michael J. Pollard's bulge.

Tons of people are killed in this movie, but none of the deaths were overly graphic or gory. Several guys have their throats slit with a spastic CD-sized disc, and a few people receive the old brain spike directly in the center of their skulls but there just really isn't much actual gore, mostly just a bit of blood here and there. They make up for the fairly limited amount of blood and guts with a glut of spectacular explosions. There are so many explosions that I lost count. The best thing is that the detonations are often taking place with the actual actors close by - sometimes dangerously so, and I think seeing the actor's faces with junk exploding 10 feet away from them helps to make the action more exciting. There's a bit with Matthias Hues hurtling a series of exploding cars in a parking garage that's actually pretty goddamn amazing - if he'd mistimed one of the jumps they would've been picking up pieces of this guy for hours.

Things to Watch For:
Ben Savage: Law Enforcer
Fake Bad Guy. Real kick in the face by Dolph Lundgren.
Extraterrestrial Breast Exam
Michael J. Pollard's Boner
Blues Brothering a Shopping Mall

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