I Come in Peace (1990)
I COME IN PEACE
WRITER: Jonathan Tydor and Leonard Maas, Jr. (Psst, that's actually David Koepp)
DIRECTOR: Craig R. Baxley
STARRING: Dolph Lundgren as Caine
Brian Benben as Smith
Betsy Brantley as Diane
Matthias Hues as Bad Alien
David Ackroyd as Switzer
Jim Haynie as Malone
Jay Bilas as Good Alien
QUICK CUT: A cop who trusts his gut is caught on the wrong side of some drug lords when a bunch of them gets massacred, and gets teamed up with a straight laced by the book FBI agent trying to solve the case. Oh, and there's also an alien running around with killer CDs and trying to turn people into drugs.
Caine - Caine is largely an 80s/90s action movie staple. He's the big, brave, tough police detective, who doesn't always follow the rules, which frustrates his chief. He's a man of his word though, and if he makes you a promise, by damn he'll keep it.
Agent Smith - Smith is as much your typical FBI agent stereotype, as Caine is the action hero. The by the book, no nonsense, always knows what to do and follows procedure. But that all goes out the window when he meets Caine.
Diane - And then there's the love interest. She's frustrated with Caine's dedication to work and always being the good guy, except with her. She's also a coroner, so she actually manages to deliver some information important to the plot.
The Bad Alien - He technically has a name, but it's never mentioned in the movie, or the credits, so here we are. He's come to Earth to suck our brains dry to create the best drug in the galaxy, at low cost and low risk. Yeah well, you ain't met Dolph Lungdren!
THE GUTS: Last year I reviewed Split Second around this time, a very solid, fun 90s action scifi movie with strong horror elements in it. I think I'll continue that tradition this year with another solid, fun, 90s action scifi movie, although we're a little lighter on the horror here. Oh, that's right, I am tackling Dark Angel.
No, not THAT Dark Angel. This one has less naked demon redheads in it. Sadly.
Instead, we start this driving around with a guy trying to get a cd to work in his car stereo, until it suddenly shoots out at him unexpectedly.
Oh, and it's also worth nothing, that Dark Angel is a Christmas movie. And by "Christmas movie" I mean, "Set during Christmas". Don't expect any high and mighty peace and love morals here, pal!
Anyways, Not!Jim Belushi nearly crashes his car into a bus, and instead finds himself in a Christmas tree farm. Aside from some background decorations and a line from Lundgren later on, this is pretty much the extent of the Christmas in this movie, folks. But still, Christmas movie!
But he's not the only one who crashes into the trees today, as a fireball from space also lands right on top of his car, leaving it a pile of steaming metal. Does insurance cover that?
Some dude with white eyes and platinum blonde hair pulls a Terminator out of the fire, and towers over Not!Jim to declare that he comes in peace! Oh, good! He's a nice friendly alien! ...Right?
See that title? Dark Angel? That title is wrong. No evidence to the contrary will ever convince me otherwise. This movie is I Come in Peace. Plain and simple.
That was how it was marketed in the States when it came out. That is how I saw it. That's what was on the VHS box. And that is the title of this movie. That Is The Title. There is no argument here. Also, I Come in Peace just makes SENSE for the title of this. As I will slowly explain, Dark Angel has zero meaning to the plot, is not referenced, and is just a nonsensical, meaningless title that just does not work.
So, let's rewind here and get a proper title...
While the credits roll, we see some dude breaking into a place, and find out he's sneaking into an evidence room at a police warehouse, where he kills a cop, takes his place, and walks out with a suitcase full of drugs
I gotta say, this seems like a heist with a few steps too many, but it gives the movie something to do while names flash by, and it ends with the two fake cops blowing up the police station, so I can't complain too much.
Our explosion happy friends bring the drugs to a sting operation being overseen by our hero, and perennial 80s and 90s action movie star, Dolph Lundgren. It doesn't take long for the drug deal to go south though, and the White Boys knew all along that the guy they were talking to was a cop, and Caine's partner.
Things continue to go wrong as a nearby convenience store gets held up, and Caine has to be the good cop and stop THAT, while his partner's cover is falling apart. Don't worry, he is Caine, he will help you!
Which at least leads to the double shoot out in the store and back at the drug deal, where the thief and Caine's partner both get killed pretty quick.
And that's when our white-haired peacetalker shows up at the drug bust gone wrong, to once again declare he comes in peace. To proove how peaceful he is, he fires around a cd that slices through a bunch of the White Boys.
Wait, hold on there wannabe Rutger Hauer! You can't just be all "I Come in Peace, and then slaughter a room full of guys with your DoomVDs!
YOU SIR ARE A LIAR! A LYING LIAR WHO LIES!
Caine finishes with the store, and as he's heading back over to his car, that's when things get a little more explodey and covers the escape of tall, pale, and ugly as he swipes all the drugs in the room.
Which is when Jack's boss shows up and chews him out for disappearing for over a week to work on this sting, and puts him on an eight week suspension. The captain also tries to cajole a promise that Jack won't do anything revengey while he's sitting on the couch watching Jerry Springer for the next two months.
See, Caine's got this thing, where if he makes a promise, he's the guy that's gonna keep it. They establish him as a man of his word right out of the gate, and it's another good character moment, much like his rushing in to stop the robbery. He may not always follow the rules, but he is unquestionably The Good Guy.
As if he's not already having a terrible day of losing his partner, his job, and the bad guys all at once, thanks to all the mayhem being caused, the FBI shows up to run their own investigation.
Caine quickly gets put back on the case since he knows the situation and the players involved, but the downside is, he gets partnered with an FBI agent named Smith, and that can't possibly go wrong, right?
Across town, another alien crashes into the plot, while Caine and Smith get acquainted and check out the crime scene further while showing off their dueling investigative styles. Naturally, the guy in the suit is more procedural and factual, while Caine is more willing to work on instinct. They also question each other about what to do if they run into something new.
HMMM could they be about to do just that??
Before we can find out, elsewhere, a guy is trying to shut up his dog, Dexter. But before I can even make a joke about serial killers, that's when our flaxen haired alien friend shows up and injects the guy with some drugs, again declaring he comes in peace.
STOP SAYING THAT. YOU LIE.
Once he's done giving the guy a buzz, he pops out a blade and slashes the guy, before we cut back to the Odd Couple of police duos. I dunno, it seems like they'd get along great with the guys from Split Second.
Caine and friend head out to shake down his favourite stoolie, and finds out that the White Boys think the cops caused the massacre and took the drugs back. Boner also says that the martians took the drugs, jokingly, because no one knows what happened.
Oh, how little he realises just how right he is...
But Caine gets the bonus of inspiration into what the murder weapon might be, and heads back to the trashed club, tracing the steps of what he now believes to be a projectile. Which leads him to find the CD of Doom woobling in a speaker.
Smith removes the disc, and it resumes smashing around the club, until it returns back to the speaker, fortunately not giving anyone a gaping neck wound this time.
Back with our aliens, the bad one grabs yet another hapless victim to share his drugs with. This time, we see the stabbing isn't just a stabby, but also drawing something OUT of the victims after they're killed.
You know what? I am not going to spend the rest of this review going "Good One" and "Bad One". The Bad Alien is now named Bruce, and the Good Alien is now named Gordon.
And I am going to pause right here and say how much I *love* how they have paced this out. We keep cutting back to Bruce, and each time we see JUST a little bit more. First time we don't see anything, and we're left wondering. Then we see him injecting the drugs and what we THINK is killing the guy afterwards. And then the third time they expand just a little more and it's NOT just a stabbing. It lets every death be the same, but different, AND expands the plot, so it's not wasted time. It's damned near a perfect case in pacing and revealing plot.
Also, it's done wordlessly, aside from the killer's lying lies about peace.
But that's when Gordon shows up to cause massive property damage to cars and windows with his gigantic gun of flaming doom.
Caine heads home with the compact death, and spends a little more time with Smith, who wants to turn in the evidence. It's yet more great character stuff, as we learn Caine has a taste for wine, and nice art. So many details like this can be overlooked, and are unnecessary to the plot, but I love these pointless things, because it makes the characters real people.
Jack decides to try and patch things up with his estranged coroner girlfriend, and after a bit of a slap fight, that goes well. He returns to his apartment the next morning to meet up with Smith, and finds the door open, the place ransacked, and Smith already there.
While suspicions are raised about Smith maybe taking the disc, fortunately Caine already brought it to his scientist friend, we hop over to a mechanic who is the latest to run afoul of our white-haired alien.
So the buddy cops head over to the overly caffeinated scientist to get the scoop on the disc and they use this moment to try the thinnest justification for the actual title of the movie, by having him say the feds are like some tribe in Africa that says the opposite of what they mean, like "Welcome to our village" before they eat you.
Oooor, "I come in peace" before they suck your brains. It's *still* a better, more sensible title than Dark Angel.
ANYways, the disc is a magnet, and can be programmed...no one really cares about the hows, we just care that it makes slashy things, right? But hey, you gotta handwave your hi tech gadgetry and keep things grounded sometimes.
Once they swing by the morgue to check out the alien's handiwork, it's time for the obligatory 90s movie action car chase with action! But this one has our heroes in a crappy station wagon, and some White Boys in a sports car, so it's especially amusing.
After they've been chased, and escape, Caine heads to talk with someone with ties to the White Boys and put an end to all this. Smith tries to get him to follow procedure, but Caine's reached the point where he doesn't care.
Caine takes a meeting with Warren, and it's your typical 90s "Angry cops goes in and punches guys in suits to get to the guy he REALLY wants." But, it does bring Lundgren's unique skill set to the fight, and is more kicky than punchy.
But everyone thinks everyone ELSE is responsible for all these bodies piling up, and Warren and the White Boys want to tie up some loose ends anyways, so send Caine to make a drug deal for them. If he delivers the drugs, good! If he gets killed by whomever's doing the killing, also good! It's a win win!
Things STILL don't go as planned though, when the drug dealer just takes the heroin from Caine at gunpoint. He rushes off with his ill gotten drugs, and when Caine follows, he finds his body, minus the drugs. Also minus his life.
And that's when the Bruce shows up and tosses Caine around. And then the OTHER alien shows up, leading to a literal firefight with their fiery guns of fiery death. Finally, the buddy cop action movie is running into the scifi alien hunters movie.
You got your cop movie in my scifi! You got your scifi in my cop movie!!
The explosions distract the guys holding Smith nearby, and he uses the opportunity to beat them up, and escape. They run off back to Diane to ask questions, and Caine's slooowly putting it together that he's not in a drug bust movie, and instead in an alien movie.
She explains that the heroin is being used to cause a high, and the aliens are then draining the resulting endorphins from the bodies to use THAT as a new more awesome drug, but one that human technology has no way of harvesting and preserving.
Caine tries to tell Smith his crazy aliens theory, and of course that goes over about as well as you'd think. The agent just tries to brush things off by saying it's just Caine needing sleep and making up crazy ideas. And when Caine tries and tell the chief his theory, it sounds a little something like this...
They head out to retrieve the disc, but discover Smith's fed friends beat them to it. Meanwhile, Bruce has the space munchies and raids a grocery store. He kills off two more people with cds, and then almost nails a security guard to make more drugs.
But that's when Gordon shows up to blow up more windows and cars, while the Bruce escapes. Gordon doesn't fare too well in the fight though, and he's not looking so good.
Over with or heroes still trying to tell the chief what's going on, and Smith doesn't back Caine up *at all*. Which just makes our hero sound crazier, and is likely not good for his already shaky career. But before this can get any worse, they get the call about the grocery store and go to talk to the witness.
But before they can get there, the feds have fedded up, and won't allow anyone in to see the bodies or the crime scene, not even Diane the coroner. No matter how many shiny badges everyone has, and not even Smith.
Team Caine can't get anywhere at the new crime scene, so head home, but not before the injured Gordon shows up in Caine's backseat. He gives a little more infodump that largely just confirms what Caine's already pieced together, and he urges them to stop Bruce.
Before he explodes in a ball of light, Gordon at least tells them where they can find the bad guy. Oh, and he also leaves them his gun of shooty fire.
Which Caine sees as proof, since their other proof is an incinerated white smear in Caine's back seat, but Smith would rather take the gun to HIS boss for his own reasons.
So Smith runs off to daddy and hands over the toy, and we find out Gasp! Surprise! He was also responsible for getting them the disc, and he's been trying to advance his career all this time!
But things quickly turn when Switzer says he's going to have Caine killed because they can't have him interfering with the potential military benefits and evil government etc etc yadda yadda. Anyways, Smith realises Caine was right and his loyalties are all screwed up.
In fact, Switzer is about to put Smith out of his misery too, when Caine shows up and kills the fed. Oh, that's not going to look good on his resume.
They head to Bruce's hidey hole, and think they've missed him, when he pops up out of nowhere. How the heck do you hide a seven foot tall alien invader without invisibility cloaking technology?!
Smith can't get the new toy to work, leaving the alien time to shoot Deadly Versatile Discs at them, and use his own flamegun. Our heroes finally get theirs working, but the lower settings don't seem to be getting the job done.
After immolating the entire place, they find Bruce seems to have disappeared, but he did leave behind his tasty endorphins, which is something.
So they have bait, and after quickly dealing with some stray White Boys looking for their money, and dragging Diane along, it's time for the final act.
The alien shows up and takes care of the loose plot threads slowing things down, and we get another car chase with the alien pursuing Caine in a stolen cop car.
After an explodey car chase, they end up at what is probably the same abandoned plant where Freddy died at the start of the month, and set up their trap for Bruce, including Caine grabbing a speaker from the car.
The alien finds his stolen pouch, but Caine removed the drugs first. So he stands there and rages out, while Smith lines up his shot, and ups the flamegun to the highest setting. He even has his witty cool action hero line! ...But he's not Dolph, so the gun sputters and is out of fuel.
Which leads to our heroes being chased through the factory, with the alien setting things on fire behind them.
Bruce still catches up with them, and tosses Smith out of the way for the rest of the movie, while also capturing Diane.
Caine uses the drugs he still has as bait, smashing them when Tall Pale and Ugly doesn't do what he wants, until Bruce lets Diane go and follows him.
Our hero tosses away his weapon, and the alien follows suit, inching towards Caine to get his brainsmack. Caine leaves the vials and backs away, and oh noes, the killer betrays him and shoots a cd at our hero! Fortunately for the speaker...
Caine uses the distraction to get around to the other side, there's fighting, attempts at drugging, more fighting, and a long struggle until the alien gets tired of it and drags Caine towards him with the drug injector.
Which Caine promptly uses to stab Bruce in the neck with, and the alien ends up injecting himself. Well, at least he'll die a happy alien.
Caine kicks the bad guy back into a very convenient pipe, and grabs that guy's flamegun, which is still nicely charged, cranking things up to 11...er, four.
The alien tries one last lying his lie of lies with his I come in peace statement, and Caine delivers one of the single best comebacks ever in the entire history of cinema, "And you go in pieces... asshole," before blasting him with the flamegun.
Now THAT is how you deal with liars!
Which is pretty much the end of the movie, as everyone runs out of the burning factory with a few final moments of humour, and we even get a classic freeze frame ending as the credits roll.
Video: I kinda cheated here, and I watched two different versions. The MGM DVD-R made on demand version, and Scream! Factory's recent release on Blu-Ray. I was surprise that the DVD was in proper widescreen AND looked good. I feared the whole 'made on demand' thing would look like crap and made half-assed. And the Blu-Ray naturally looks good. It's maybe not as sharp as modern DVDs, and you can tell it was made from the best they could get their hands on, but it still looks pretty good, and the fires are all a nice glowy orange.
Audio: Both versions sounded really good. Oh, and naturally, I say get the Blu-Ray. But I needed the DVD for my review.
Sound Bite: "Either you're Santa Claus or you're dead, pal!" Christmas movie!!
Body Count: When you mix in an 80s action movie, with killer aliens from outer space, you should expect a high body count. And this movie does not disappoint!
1 - Not!Jim Belushi bites it as the credits roll. We don't see it, but it happens off camera, and you can't tell me otherwise.
2 - Guy trying to rob the convenience store gets shot by Caine.
3 - Caine's partner gets killed at the same time.
4 through 7 - A bunch of the White Guys get sliced up good by the high velocity CD.
8 - Junkyard owner gets drugged and stabbied.
9 - The alien kills another guy working in a warehouse.
10 - And then he finds a mechanic to suck dry.
11 - The alien finds a drug dealer to kill.
12 - Cashier at a grocery store gets disced.
13 - Customer at the same store is the next to be disced.
14 - The Good Alien takes a hit and burns out rather than fade away, in Caine's car.
15 - Before Switzer can kill Smith, Caine takes him out.
16 - The alien shows up and flames out a White Boy.
17 - And then crispy fries some police bacon.
18 - And follows that up with launching a second White Boy over a car in fire.
19 - Some poor cop gets involved in the car chase and dies.
20 - And finally, the Bad Alien gets taken out by Caine and the firegun.
Best Corpse: Another great case of not being lacking for choices! So many nice slices of death, but I want to go with Gordon's death, because it's a pay off, it's a character we know (Kinda) and watching him go fwoosh was good and different.
Blood Type - C+: There's some decent blood shots when necks get slashed, and *technically* blood when Bruce and Gordon get wounded, but otherwise it's pretty light. Still, there's some good effects and I give an extra nudge for that.
Sex Appeal: A visit to a strip club provides the requisite boobs for the movie.
Drink Up! every time Bruce says, "I Come in Peace". Because he lies.
Sights and Sounds: So many of the good moments are built on earlier moments, and hard to just share tiny bits and pieces. I didn't want to blow the biggest and best moment of the movie but...how can I not? It's classic.
Movie Review: Much like Split Second, this is a strange amalgamation of action movie and scifi movie. It's questionable on how well they pulled things off. I think the weaker part of things is the cop side of things. You could argue that it's a *very* generic story, seen a dozen times before, about bad-ass cop versus a drug takeover of his city, and fighting the good fight. And you would be right. But my counterargument; That is the POINT. This is supposed to be your typical action movie, but then the aliens invade the story. I think they could have made the cop side of things less average, but fortunately it has some great performances by Dolph Lundgren and Brian Benben. They have GREAT chemistry off each other, and this is, in my opinion, Dolph's greatest performance. This should have launched his career more than it did. As a big, silly action/scifi flick, it may be flawed, but it's certainly not bad. And the stunts and fire are amazing, as you would expect from a well known stuntman making the movie. Take this movie for what it is, and enjoy yourself. Three out of five killer CDs.
Entertainment Value: Sure, it may be silly, it may be flawed, the cops vs. robbers with the feds mucking about has been done before, but man, there is charm aplenty here. Caine and Smith are fun to watch, and they never come off as being assholes to another, just people from different worlds. They could have had such a different dynamic, and while they may spark, you can tell there's a friendship there. Even when Smith is being a bit self-serving and dishonest. I wish Hues had been given more to do, but he still brings some great alien-esque behaviour to Bruce, and his looks say a lot while saying nothing at all. Same goes for Gordon, really. Still, they're fun, and Bruce is a blast to see tearing up the city, and seemingly unstoppable. Come into this remembering this was a so very 90s action movie made during the height of the action movie genre in the 80s and 90s, and that you're gonna see lots of exploding things that probably shouldn't be exploding, with tongue in cheek humour that never takes itself seriously, then you should enjoy this movie. If you liked Split Second, you'll have a blast with this. Four out of five speaker magnets. Which is tough. It's SO close to five, but a few minor nits, and there ARE better movies out there, keep it from being perfect.
Whew!! That's three great movies I loved in a row! Appropriate for February! How did I get so lucky? Can I keep this lucky streak going? I mean, it IS almost St. Patrick's Day, so I gotta keep being lucky, right? Unless...
Oh no. No no no. St. Patrick's Day...luck...leprechauns...
Leprechaun..... in Space. Nooooo.