Directed by: Craig R. Baxley
Now this is a Dolph Lundgren film that I really, really love, even if the only way to currently watch it is on VHS officially. Though "thank the heavens" it's available in Widescreen VHS.
It's not perfect by any means, but it's got a lot of things going for it like the combination of Dolph "Motherfuckin" Lundgren and director Craig R. Baxley. But it's also got some choices that really hurt the film and prevented it from really hitting the big time.
Dolph Lundgren. Director Craig R. Baxley, a director that if you've read any of my past reviews, I have a lot of love for. A ton of action. Explosions galore. If this isn't in the guiness book of world records for the most explosions in a single movie, i'd be damned surprised.
The music, it's just awful. Completely dreadful, but i'll get into that later. The look of the aliens. And I know it's a little nit-picky, but the opening title sequence. It just looks cheap and doesn't give the film a very promising opening. And that last shot, it makes me laugh every time.
This is one of my favorite Dolph Lundgren flicks. Say what you want about the quality of some of his movies, but you can't deny the guy is a force to be reckoned with, right along side Chuck Norris, Charles Bronson, Van Damme, Steven Seagal and Bruce Willis. The guy's developed an extreme cult following through the years and his output is enormous. Since 1985 he's come out with a movie every single year since and often coming out with anywhere from 2-4 in any given year. The guy is a non-stop movie making machine. He's also been writing and directing some of his films since 2004 and so far has done 7. So the guy know's what he's doing, becoming a one-man-operation in the direct to DVD market. Though I've seen many of these, he still hasn't done that one action masterpiece. Even with direct to DVD, it can still be accomplished. He tries really hard though, coming really close with 2007's Missionary Man, a modern day western kinda flick shot in Texas, but still not close enough. The cover art is cool though! I think technically, he just doesn't have that "eye" for setting up cool shots. It's not something you can really learn, no matter how many movies you turn out. You're either born with it or your not. Case-in-point, Troy Duffy, writer/director of The Boondock Saints 1 & 2. As a human being, the guy is a piece of shit. Just watch the riveting documentary Overnight if you don't believe me, or read my review. Even though he had never gone to film school or made a film, you can't deny the guy has a keen visual eye, just too bad his mouth gets in the way. The guy could have really become a successful film director if he wasn't such a douche bag. Back to Lundgren. I hope he continues to make his movies, but i'm still waiting for that "ultra-violent" crazy balls to the walls action flick, his opus. Though he hadn't been on the big screen since 1995's horrendous Johnny Mnemonic, that changed with 2010's The Expendables and I couldn't be happier. I hope it means he'll get more big screen work.
Anyway, back to I Come in Peace. It centers around a Houston cop named Det. Jack Caine, played by Lundgren. He's a vice cop with a bad attitude who, believe it or not, doesn't follow the rules. In the meantime a mysterious alien has just landed, looking like he came out of Mad Max with a hint of The Matrix, to collect a rare drug invaluable on his planet. During a sequence in the beginning of the film, Cain's partner is murdered during a botched undercover heroin deal. The alien shows up immediately after killing the drug dealers with his cool flying CD contraption and stealing the heroin and always uttering the line "I Come in Peace". It seems to be the only English language phrase he knows. Why this phrase? I have no idea, because he kills you immediately after saying it, like some kind of fucked up joke. Using a cable contraption from his wrist that shoots out like lightning, he kills his victims by injecting them with a massive dose of heroin (the same heroin he stole from the drug deal) and taking the potent endorphin's from the brain. The endorphin is the powerful drug on his planet. During all this, another alien has also landed, you assume he's like the cop on his planet, and shows up almost every time the bad alien is killing someone. Each encounter results in a massive gun battle/chase scene with exploding cars, buildings, and various other pieces of public property. The city cleanup bill must have been massive. After Caine's partner is killed, he's assigned an FBI agent to tag along named Smith. Right away the two do not get along as Smith is as straight edged and by the book as you can possibly be and Caine just doesn't give a shit about rules. He relies solely on instinct. Slowly Caine starts to realize there might be an extraterrestrial element to the investigation, though Smith doesn't believe so. Right off the bat, Caine does't trust Smith. He's shady and you get the impression he's not always telling the truth. There are several scenes throughout where Caine just give Smith a "look", and you (the audience) get immediately that Caine knows something is up with this guy, though it's never confirmed until later on. So the hard edged cop and the straight edgent FBI agent have to work together to find out what's going on, even when it seems Smith is constantly getting in the way and making things way more complicated than they need to be.
This movie seriously kicks some ass. Right from the beginning it starts with a bang and never stops. There's an explosion in what seems at least every 5 minutes and a good shootout every 15. Lundgren completely owns the movie here. He's charismatic as hell and reminds us that at one time, the guy was a big name action star. He can delivery the lines with barely a hint of that Swedish accent and delivery a roundhouse kick with ease, in this case often in the most unexpected places. It's funny actually, he's got a gun and can easily pull a trigger, but instead throws a roundhouse just to prove that he can, in skin tight jeans no less. I love the last thing he says to the bad alien when he's kicking his ass in the end. "Fuck you spaceman!". Classic!
The scenes with the aliens doing battle in the middle of the city at night are crazy awesome, if they just didn't look so ridiculous. They're aliens from another planet, being about 7 feet tall with outfits looking like they came out of Mad Max. They don't really look alien except for the fact that they have weird white eyes and really bad haircuts. That's it, because you can excuse the ridiculous Mad Max outfits for poor fashion taste. This is one of the decisions that ultimately hurts the film, because it just doesn't make any sense that they are aliens from anther planet but don't really look it. The bad alien only utters the same line over and over again, "I Come in Peace", where the good alien actually speaks English and can carry on a conversation. Why this is is never explained. It would have been cool if they had done some kind of makeup or even decent looking masks for the aliens, as in They Live, because it just looks like they didn't even try here. They also never explain why the bad alien shows up at the undercover drug deal and steals the case full of heroin. It's what he uses to kill his victims to produce the endorphin, but how does an alien know what heroin on planet Earth is or even looks like?
Those are silly little issues that I had while watching this flick, issues that could have easily been overlooked had it not been for one MAJOR decision that ultimately just kills the movie. The music. That damned score. The horror, the horror. It is all wrong for this movie. I'm watching it, even from the very beginning and all I can think of is how it seems like it instead belongs in an episode of Miami Vice. And there's a reason, because the composer here, Jan Hammer, actually did the theme music for Miami Vice. It's just ridiculous, all high note keyboards with absolutely no dramatic effect. It literally sounds like they just took the music from Miami Vice and just used it for the movie. I don't know who, whether it be the director or the producers or the studio heads, thought this was a good idea. I remember even way back in 1990 when I was 14 years old seeing this in the theater with my friend and his dad, thinking "wow, this music sucks!". It really just kills the movie.
To be honest, the movie is kind of weird. Especially considering it was a theatrical feature. There are just some elements and decisions that were made that just don't work whether it be lack of budget or just poor decision making. Director Craig R. Baxley, just coming off of the super awesome Action Jackson does a bang up job here. I've said it before and I'll say it again, the guy know's how to direct action and he doesn't disappoint here. Somebody needs to bring this guy out of the TV world and hire him to do the next Die Hard film. That would be something truly spectacular. I can't be the only one who thinks that. Dolph Lundgren is also in top form here. Though this is only 1 of 2 films in his entire career where he dyed his hair black, the first being The Punisher which came out the year before, and it just looks odd. But he's charismatic and likable enough as an action hero here that you get over it quick. This was also a career high for him. In a span of five years or so, he was churning out cult classics from Masters of the Universe, The Punisher, I Come in Peace, Showdown in Little Tokyo (a personal favorite), to even Universal Soldier.
Also of special note, this film is only called I Come in Peace here in the states. Elsewhere in the world it's known as Dark Angel. Something to do with legal issues here in the states as there were 2 other films with that title from waaaaay back.
There are 3 things that they "could" do to make this a really badass Blu-ray release that would make it worth spending the money to buy, even making back some of what it lost during it's theatrical run because it was a big flop, costing $7 million to make and only making back $4 million.
1. They need to use this original poster art for the cover and not that horrendous cheapy looking photoshop image of 2 seperate photographs of Dolph and the bad alien blended together with a cheap looking background and horrible font.
2. Replace the music with an entirely new score using an actual talent and an actual orchestra.
3. Replace the font in the title sequence completely. It looks cheap and bad.
Those 3 little changes would do wonders for an official release. Because as I said before, it's never been officially released on DVD as of yet and people like me can't wait for a true official Blu-ray release with tons of extras and the works.
Bottom line: This film is completely entertaining from beginning to end and doesn't take itself seriously at all. For a low-budget action/sci-fi film it delivers the goods and then some. A good time is to be had here if you give it a shot.