I Come In Peace (1990)

Houston, we have a problem. A lot of them. There’s the drug dealing scum stealing seized heroin and killing people. There’s drug dealing scum from outer space stealing heroin from the human drug dealing scum and killing people. There’s the slimy FBI guys who don’t want justice, but only want the alien so that his tech can be weaponized. But mostly, Houston has a Dolph Lundgren problem! And that problem is that his superiors keep trying to stop him from kicking the ass of drug pushers, no matter what planet they might be from!

Dolph is Detective Jack Caine and if his character’s name makes you think this is one of those perfect action movies involving a cop who gets his partner killed, plays by his own rules, gets saddled with a by-the-book fed and finishes the case with one of the best lines in the history of film, before laughing about going on vacation to kill a drug lord as the movie freeze frames to its orgasmic conclusion, leaving the viewer with only a single regret – that it ever had to end, you obviously went to film school and know what it takes to make movies real Americans want to see!

Caine and his partner are working deep undercover, with his partner setting up a drug buy while Caine listens in his car nearby. But in the sort of twist that is mandated by rogue cop movie union rules, his partner’s been made! And the bad guys are going to whack him! But Caine is on the case, busting in and saving the day, right? No, because in a sequence of events that the Houston Chamber of Commerce couldn’t have been terribly pleased about, the city is so freaking violent that a holdup is going on right across the street from where the big drug deal is happening!

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So it is that I Come In Peace (released everywhere outside the United States with the wimpy emo title Dark Angel) is such a paean to unchecked urban violence that Caine is too tied up blasting scumbags during the hold up that he isn’t able to respond when things go south for his partner. But then, as luck would have it, an alien with milky white eyes, stringy hair and black duster appears to save the day by firing a flying saw blade at all the bad guys!

His name is Talec and he is fond of uttering the film’s title periodically, space irony dripping from his crumbum alien mouth! The whole movie is really just a waiting game for Caine to deliver the Schwarzenegger-style one liner as he dispatches him, but damn, the buildup to it (and it doesn’t even matter that the line was spoiled when the ads for the movie originally ran when it came out in 1990) is a virtuoso performance by director Craig Baxley (Action Jackson, Stone Cold) of smartly shot action, beatings, car chases, and explosions.

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Despite Caine’s boss demanding that Caine take 8 weeks of vacation, the FBI reinstates him since he’s the only who might know where the human drug kingpin is behind some of the mayhem. This is also when they assign him a little turd in a suit named Agent Smith who spends most of his time insulting Caine’s method of detective work (instinct), advocating the necessity of following procedure and not questioning your superiors and bragging about how he makes more money than Caine. Even though Caine is the sort of badass who gets slapped around by his girlfriend before grabbing and kissing her, he’s such a good guy, he never punches Smith out and even saves his life!

Caine and Smith drive around town tracking down clues (they find the magic saw blade) while Talec is using his space gizmos to inject people with on overdose of heroin and then extracting all the endorphins their brain releases straight from their head! Caine finds out part of this from his abusive girlfriend (she’s a coroner) and the rest from the alien cop Azeck who tells Caine that Talec is collecting an illegal drug and that if he returns to his planet, more will follow and Earth will be overrun with guys with high foreheads and silly haircuts.

Some movies are such a runaway train of awesome that moments where you’d normally laugh at, you instead nod your head knowingly and creep further up on the edge of your seat waiting for more stuff to get blown up. So it was when Caine’s big plan to defeat Talec had him, his girlfriend and Smith all head out to the abandoned factory and Caine ripped out the speaker from his car and put it in his pocket. Wait, you’re going to defeat the alien with a budget car stereo system? Makes total sense in the context of the story!

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And when Caine eyes the big metal pole sticking out of the wall, you know Caine is mentally calculating how to maneuver Talec into position so that Caine can impale him on it! Even though the alien is ten times stronger and should be able to beat the hell out of Caine! And what about Talec coming through at the very end when he pointlessly says “I come in peace” as he’s dying, setting Dolph up for the best dialogue of his career?

Did everything always make sense? Not really. Maybe there was a reason why Talec didn’t just find another city to harass once it became apparent that not only was Azeck on to him, but also Caine. Maybe there was a reason that the alien cops only sent one dude with a mullet after Talec. Maybe Talec was just suffering space lag which is why he was blowing up the whole city and drawing attention to himself when he had the perfectly quiet saw blade weapon to kill if he needed to. And most puzzling of all, why was ESPN analyst and attorney Jay Bilas playing Azeck?

But that’s all just the film snob equivalent of a guy complaining that a supermodel’s hair color is auburn instead of chestnut! Regardless of such superficial flaws like plot holes, I Come In Peace is as jacked up and unselfconscious about its limitations as its blasé star. An essential exploitation movie of its era.

© 2015 MonsterHunter

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