Film Review: Dark Angel (1990)
Dark Angel (originally released as I Come in Peace in the US) is the film I wish Predator 2 was.
Dolph Lundgren plays Jack Caine, a loose cannon cop who doesn’t play by the rules, who is trying to bust a gang of drug dealers known as “The White Boys”, who are made up of Yuppie Scum MBAs. Caine soon finds out there are other fish to fry when an alien hunter steals some heroin from The White Boys, and starts ODing people and extracting the endorphins from their brains. The alien, a drug dealer on his own world, is planning on collecting the raw endorphins to sell, and then coming back in numbers to harvest humans en masse.
Meanwhile, the White Boys are still gunning for Caine, who think he’s responsible for the loss of their product, the chief is breathing down his neck, the Feds are sticking their nose in, and finally he’s saddled with a new, wet behind the ears, by-the-book partner by the name of Larry Smith (Brian Benben).
And that’s bingo.
That said, this works so much better than Predator 2, which came out a few months better. The unfortunate racist undertones in Predator 2 are rendered completely absent by shifting the gangsters from Jamaicans, to lily-white Yuppie Jackasses. The film’s score by Jan Hammer – the same person who scored Miami Vice – really highlights this part of the story.
Also, Caine and Smith are generally written fairly well. Caine manages to avoid the normal Schwarzenegger/Stallone meathead cop cliches by showing some intelligence to his police work, making intuitive leaps that make sense almost immediately. Smith, on the other hand brings legit book smarts that Caine doesn’t have (like knowing about human electrical fields – dumb science but it works for purposes of the story). Unfortunately, the film frequently tosses the idiot ball to Smith in some really stupid ways that undermines his positive traits. In particular, he encounters a weapon that can home in on the biomechanical signals of humans and he refuses to believe that it’s not from then-modern, late 20th century earth.
All in all, this film is a fun dumb movie. It manages to avoid the worst of the bad cop film cliches, and the ones it doesn’t avoid, it owns fairly well. If I had to choose between re-watching this or re-watching Predator 2, I’d pick this any day.
Dark Angel is currently available in a bare-bones Scream Factory release on Amazon.com.