Early 90s B-movie action purists will remember Dolph Lundgren’s sci-fi cop thriller Dark Angel as I Come in Peace. The shooting and international title is, in fact, Dark Angel, but the title was changed to I Come in Peace stateside to avoid confusion with two other films from the 20s and 30s named Dark Angel (like that would happen). I Come in Peace is a cooler name by a country mile, and it also happens to be the catchphrase for the film’s giant blonde antagonist, a white-eyed alien here to steal human endorphins by goosing us with a lethal dose of heroin. Here is a definitive 1990 camp thriller, one managing to have every cop-flick action cliché known to man, while at the same time managing to build a detailed background of this alien race and the politics on his home planet.
1990 was also a time when we were dead set on turning the incredibly uncharismatic Dolph Lundgren into a leading man. With all the range he showed in Rocky IV, no wonder studios wanted this ripped Swede to share the box office with Schwarzenegger. I love Lundgren, and he seems to be making a comeback since his name is up next on the pop-culture nostalgia conveyor, but let’s not pretend he resembles anything close to a competent thespian. They tried with Masters of The Universe, they tried with The Punisher (guilty pleasure. You know you like it too.), and these big budget attempts didn’t take. So his next option was to get steady work in some undercard thrillers. Like I Come in Peace, where he plays Jack Caine, a Houston vice cop who… wait for it… is not on the Captain’s good side.
Yes, Jack is a rebel at The Force, a cop who works under his own rules, doesn’t have time for a skinny, bookish new FBI partner (Brian Benben), and doesn’t let the actual law impede his enforcement of it. And lest we forget an item on the checklist, he recently broke up with his girlfriend. He’s just the sort of cop America needs when a gigantic blonde alien – Talec is his name – begins killing people with really sharp flying CDs and injecting them with heroin to spike their endorphins so he can then harvest them. This is all highly illegal and expensive according to the other alien, Azeck, the good one, who’s hot on the trail of Talec and drops this plot exposition while dying in the back of Jack’s car.
The pursuit of Talec also dovetails into Jack’s pursuit of Victor Manning (Sherman Howard), the drug dealer getting ripped off by Talec. Manning and his cronies are stock villains built at the 90s B-villain factory, which is why the aliens are so crucial to the ultimate enjoyment of the movie. I Come in Peace isn’t much for human characterization, but director Craig R. Baxley and writers Jonathan Tydor and David Koepp (DAVID KOEPP!) pay great attention to the backstory of these extraterrestrial villains. That’s where the film separates itself from similar schlock of the time. Giving Talec firm motivation, and even adding in an alien cop to pursue him to earth, are extra steps in the development of these antagonists where most films of this ilk wouldn’t bother.
“I come in Peace…” “You Go in Pieces.” Hell yeah!