I vividly remember the first time I watched 'Dark Angel', or as it was known back then, 'I Come In Peace'. I was with my dad, and we both watched Dolph Lundgren kick some alien ass on-screen for 90 minutes with a message that said "Drugs are bad". I also remember wanting to dress up as the bad guy alien from this movie the following Halloween, but I was unable to pull it off. Still to this day, 'Dark Angel' holds up as one of the better very early 90s action movies, complete with funny one-liners and some heavy violence in a sci-fi world.
Director Craig R. Baxley was a former stunt performer on a number of films and television shows and made his directorial debut with 'Action Jackson'. It seem that Lundgren loved being in films by former stuntmen, such as Joshua Tree. And the title 'I Come In Peace' was given to the film, because 'Dark Angel' had already been a title for previous movies. But this mix of action and sci-fi is done rather well and is an entertaining and brainless film that still garners laughs, thrills, and smirks.
Taking place in Houston, Texas, Jack Caine (Lundgren) is a police officer who could care less about rules and is willing to take down bad guys, specifically drug lords by any means necessary. Which of course drives his boss up a wall, a typical stereotype in these films. Jack is hell-bent on taking down a gang called the White Boys, who deal drugs in fancy suits and cool cars. This gang is led by Victor Manning (Sherman Howard). Unfortunately, Jack's partner is killed and the White Boys make a big drug heist and blow up a factory.
This situation soon has the FBI intervening, and Jack is forced to partner up with FBI agent Arwood 'Larry' Smith (Brian Benben), who is a by-the-books guy. This could have been a comedy if it weren't for the alien wreaking havoc. Jack realizes that there is something much bigger going on than just drug dealings, as he comes to find that people are popping up dead. Jack and Arwood come across a strange vibrating disk thats seems to have violently killed a bunch of the White Boys. Soon they're following a mysterious creature named Talec (Matthias Hues), who has long white hair and glowing white eyes. Much like The Terminator , another one of these creatures pops up, Azeck (Jay Bilas) and is supposedly a good guy and sets out to find Talec, informing people that Talec is injecting a large amount of drugs into humans, then sucking out their brains to be used on their home planet as a narcotic. It's a hilarious plot, but it's highly entertaining.
Lundgren is so much fun to watch in this film as he shows off his martial arts skills, handles a gun well, and spouts off one-liners as if he were Arnold Schwarzenegger. You can tell that a stuntman directed this film, as it is action heavy with some pretty incredible stunt-work. And it wouldn't be a 90s action film without a love interest for Lundgren: Betsy Brantley. 'Dark Angel' still holds up today and is a fun action/sci-fi film that tops most of the dribble that came out around this time.
'Dark Angel' has a decent 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio. For a twenty-three year old film, I was surprised how well this looked on Blu-ray. Most scenes have impressive detail, especially in closeups that define the actor's makeup and wrinkles. Even the alien's costumes look great with this fine detail. However, there are several spots where the image goes soft and flat with a heavier layer of grain coming through.
The colors seem to be well balanced and saturated with good black levels that run deep and inky. This was a key issue as most scenes take place at night or have low lighting. Skin tones are natural and smooth as well. There were no compression issues that I noticed other than a tiny bit of motion blur. No banding or dirt was visible on the print. This is a solid video presentation and is the best this movie has ever looked.
This release comes with both a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix as well as a 2.0 version. While the 2.0 version seems to be tighter than the 5.1 mix, the latter is the better soundtrack. The sound effects and ambient noises are loud and use the surrounds often. There is a bit of directionality with this presentation as well.
The dialogue is crystal clear, however sometimes the sound effects are so loud, that it drowns out the dialogue from time to time. But, it's balanced perfectly on the center channel with not evidence of any cracks, pops, or hissing. The score also provides a fun and at times suspenseful enhancement to the film while never drowning out the dialogue or effects. A solid audio presentation.
'Dark Angel', formally titled 'I Come In Peace', is still a fun-as-hell action film. Lundgren is a badass from start to finish and is a pleasure to watch. This is a nostalgic look at early 90s action films, and it still holds up today. The video and audio presentations are solid with one decent extra for fans to enjoy. If you're a fan of these action films, this one comes recommended.