As an action lover firstly, Dark Angel is a film that any enthusiast will find hard not to enjoy. It’s a great, and entertaining slice of violent sci-fi hokum served up in a brisk 89 minutes. Secondly as a fans of Dolph Lundgren, it marks perhaps his most polished and entertaining solo work. The 80’s itself was a great time for action movies, with countless action stars, and the essential ingredients were a simple plot, plenty of wise cracking and plenty of action. Lundgren had been responsible for the far more stern and serious action flicks Red Scorpion and the under-rated Punisher film yet Dark Angel was one of a string of 3 films Dolph did, very much in the trend of Schwarzenegger’s simpler action films like Red Heat, Running Man and Raw Deal. It was brainless, yet highly enjoyable, slick and violent. Dolph followed this entertaining fare with the similarly comic book styled Showdown In Little Tokyo and then Universal Soldier. These three films remain Dolph’s apex. He got the humour right in them and they are best described as Arnie styled actioners. Dark Angel though had a twist on the concept with the slightly imaginative idea of an Alien coming down from outer space, injecting victims full of heroin and then using hi-tech alien techniques, removing the endorphins from the brain. It’s implausible but who cares? Naturally Dolph has to save the day and has help from uptight FBI pen pusher Brian Benben. What marks this film as Dolphs career highlight is the fact that this is his movie, 100%. Dolph is the star, the head honcho. His other best films had him share the screen with bigger, or soon to be bigger stars like Stallone, Van Damme and Brandon Lee. The chemistry between Lundgren and Benben works superbly, and Lundgren is on fine Arnie zinger form. It makes you wonder why some of the one liners in his other films don’t come off when he delivered them so perfectly in this film. In some respects this is a Dolph out of Dolph movie, with him sporting dark brown hair and brown contacts.
Directed by Craig R Baxley, the stunt co-ordinator and sometimes director for the A- Team, the action of this piece has a slick polish to it and there is plenty of it too. In fact this film probably features the largest number of exploding cars ever. The concept of the Alien brings in some imaginary and cool weaponry including a super hand gun, and deadly flying CD’s that lock into the electric current in the human body, as Dolph’s scientist friend (a bit of luck in Dolphy’s little black book) explains “It’s like setting your radio dial to K-I-L-L!” The script is blessed with some witty one-liners that would make the Governator proud. Dolph is good in the lead doing the macho thing well and kicking ass in the action. Then there is good support from Benben and Betsy Brantley.
This film surprisingly flopped in the states and you have to wonder why. It still remains Dolph’s biggest critical hit, especially in Europe where it was received mostly positively. It’s a solid middle of the road 3 star film, you can’t give it more because of its simplicity yet even those not massively keen on action films would find it hard not to enjoy. It’s a guilty pleasure movie like Commando, like Last Boy Scout and the like. The movie did good business in the UK and particularly on video. As a youngster this was one of my favourite action movies. The whole cool factor you get from the Alien and his weapons, combined with the 80’s action machismo sensibility. Overall this is a piece of simple entertainment. To be enjoyed for it’s guilty taste, that slips down the throat guilty, like chocolate, this is not recommended for its nutritional value.