Cop Vs Alien: Fun results.
Craig R. Baxley never did things by halves. What’s the point of one explosion when twenty will do? These days he directs episodes of TV shows, but in the late eighties and early nineties this guy delivered a triumverate of excessively silly action adventures for the big screen. The first was the Carl Weathers vehicle Action Jackson, which included a scene where someone drives a car into a house and up the spiral staircase so that it ends up in the fucking bedroom! The last was all-time favourite bad movie Stone Cold, the would-be breakout debut for Seattle Seahawks footballer Brian Bosworth which remains a 90 minute extravaganza of wildly over-the-top action and hilarious dialogue. In-between those two was Dark Angel, aka I Come in Peace, which might well be the best made of the three films, even if its not as out-and-out unforgettable as Stone Cold.
Like the other two Baxley films, it’s a cop thriller, but the twist this time is that the bad guy is an alien. He’s a big mother too. I suppose if you’ve got Dolph Lundgren, aka Ivan Fucking Drago, as the good guy, then you better make sure the antagonist is even taller than he is. This alien, played by German direct-to-video mainstay Matthias Hues, arrives on Earth (causing an explosion in the process, natch) and proceeds to steal a suitcase of heroin from the local drug dealers, using it to get his victims super-high, after which he sucks out their super-endorphin enriched brain juice in order to sell it on back home as the ultimate drug. Intergalactic drug dealers, eh? What next? Well, thrown in an alien cop who’s also arrived to terminate our villain, though his motives aren’t so obvious right from the off. Lundgren’s Jack Caine is a cop who doesn’t like to play by the rules. His partner is killed by the same human drug dealers who are wiped out by the bad alien, so vengeance is the name of the game for Caine, followed by confusion as he realises that the most dangerous criminal on the streets isn’t human. The clues are there – early victims have been dispatched by some kind of killer compact disc, and before you know it, the FBI are getting involved, pairing Caine with a super-official, suited and booted jerk played by Brian Benben, who late-night TV enthusiasts from the 90’s might remember as the lead in US comedy Dream On. Remember? No? You should, I remember it being pretty good.
Well these two make for a predictably abrasive team, but less predictably is that their partnership works, thanks to Lundgren’s laconic demeanour and Benben’s funny performance. Oh yes, despite the extra-terrestrial element, this is a routine cop caper all the way, but everyone takes their token roles and go the distance with them. Even the stock neglected-girlfriend character is performed with charm. Hues is a striking villain – he only has six distinct words of dialogue, even if four of them are repeated over and over again. He’s got a complete straight-face, except for the moment when even he admits that Baxley knows how to blow shit up and grins a wicked grin. Sherman Howard, aka Bub from Day of the Dead, shows up at the start as the head of the drug syndicate, it’s a shame he isn’t in the film after the first act, with the exception of an appearance in a cheerfully threatening postcard. There’s also a pill-popping doctor who thinks coffee is for wimps, some wildly excessive criminality (steal drugs from a police station, then blow up police station for good measure – more explosions!), ridiculous dialogue (‘I come from the university of SUCK MY DICK!’ or ‘Fuck you, Spaceman!’) and did I mention explosions? It’s total trash, and even ends on a freeze-frame of the good guys laughing and joking like all the events of the last 90 minutes never happened, but I liked this one. Lundgren’s never had the consistent action career his presence deserves (though his turns in The Expendables films have proved ample compensation) but I liked him here. It’s nice that he drinks wine and appreciates art too. This proves he’s not just about delivering roundhouse kicks and literally killer one-lines – his parting quip to Hues has been oft-quoted but I won’t spoil it for those who don’t know.