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Dolph Lundgren is one of the Legends of the Silver Screen I have a soft spot in my heart for.  After instantly attaining Legendary status by playing Ivan Drago in Rocky 4, he dabbled in the realm of theatrical action films before setting out to conquer the world of Straight to DVD action flicks.  While most STD action heroes try to put off the inevitable, Dolph embraced the freedom that came with lower budgets and lower expectations and often wrote and directed his own films.  It’s his “Big Fish in a Little Pond” mentality that I respect about the man and it’s one of the many reasons he is a Legend of the Silver Screen.

 

Our first Dolph flick on the agenda is…

 

I COME IN PEACE  (1990)  **

 

Here’s another flick my buddy Ryan Kenner from over at Movies in the Attic (http://moviesintheattic.blogspot.com) sent me.  I saw this when it first came out at the White Marlin Mall theater back in the day.  (It’s now since become a Michael’s, sad to say.)  I hadn’t seen it since then but based on his recommendation I decided to give it another shot.  Well, it’s still not very good, yet it’s pretty watchable; mostly because it’s become so dated.

 

This ridiculous looking alien that looks like Rutger Hauer on steroids with a platinum mullet comes to Earth and robs some white collar hoods of all their heroin.  He then grabs some random citizen, shoots ‘em up full of heroin and while they’re tweaking, he drills their head open and sucks out the Happy Juice with a contraption that mysteriously looks like a Power Glove.  After collecting their jacked-up endorphins, he puts his stash into an outer space version of a fanny pack.  Whenever someone gets in his way, he kills them with a flying CD.  And you know what that means:  There’s going to be a LOT of flying CD POV shots in this movie.

 

Dolph Lundgren plays a cop who is out to avenge the death of his partner.  He gets saddled with a new partner (Brian Benben from Dream On) who does things by the book.  And you know what that means:  There’s going to be a LOT of arguments about Dolph not following proper procedure and/or police protocol in this movie. 

 

There’s also another alien running around in this flick, a good guy who is tracking the Rutger Hauer look-alike.  This guy doesn’t look like Rutger Hauer on steroids though.  He looks like Jim McMahon on steroids, but with an even bigger mullet.  When he gets mortally wounded, he gives Dolph a space gun which is the only thing that can kill the extraterrestrial CD slinging dope pusher.

 

I Come in Peace is ludicrous action junk.  It’s one of those movies that are more fun to write about than to watch.  It’s goofy but it doesn’t quite work.  I think the problem is the tone.  If the flick was played in a tongue in cheek manner, it might’ve played better.  (Benben provides the film with some humor and seems to realize how silly this nonsense is.) 

 

Also, director Craig R. Baxley doesn’t quite know how to blend the Sci-Fi elements with the action in a satisfying manner.  I mean look at Predator 2, which came out the same year.  There was a movie that really knew how to make a transition from cops fighting drug dealers to cops fighting aliens.  In I Come in Peace, it just feels like we’re watching two entirely different movies Brundlefly’ed together.

 

Baxley is usually reliable (anyone who’s ever seen Action Jackson or Stone Cold can tell you that) but he just wasn’t on his A Game here.  Most of the action scenes in the film just involve Dolph and Co. running away from various explosions.  He also doesn’t get enough mileage out of Dolph’s Kung Fu prowess, which is a little disappointing.

 

Then there’s the goofy alien killer.  I’m sorry, but this guy just isn’t menacing in the least.  He basically just looks like a washed-up European hand model.  Even worse is the alien cop chasing him.  What was that guy’s deal?  And why did he bleed Cool Whip topping when he got shot? 

 

The movie is not without it’s charms however.  If you’re the kind of person who loves it when characters blatantly repeat the movie’s title over and over again, you will be giddy as shit watching this flick as the alien drug dealer says “I Come in Peace” approximately 43 times throughout the picture.  Then there’s the flying killer CD’s.  I don’t know if the filmmakers were trying to make a statement on how technology can kill us, but whatever statement they were trying to make kinda gets muddled.

 

You know, it takes a Legendary kind of actor to survive this nonsense and Dolph is just the kind of guy who can walk away unscathed from a clunker like this.  Dolph injects the movie with more depth than was probably necessary and makes you want to see his character in a better movie.  (And as a side note, why the Hell did they give Dolph such an ugly love interest in this flick?  Dolph’s a good looking guy.  I’m sure he could’ve had his pick of chicks, but the broad in this movie is about a 3 in the face and a 2 in the body.  At least as far as I could tell because she’s almost completely covered from head to toe throughout the flick and gives Dolph a ride on the Bologna Pony OFF SCREEN.)  Dolph does get one immortal line at the end when the alien uses his “I come in peace” catchphrase one too many times and Lundgren retorts, “And you go in pieces, ASSHOLE!”

 

Speaking of dialogue, at one point someone says, “What are we dealing with?  Drug Dealers from Outer Space?”  Now, Drug Dealers from Outer Space is a good title for a movie.  Unfortunately this one is called I Come in Peace.  (Which admittedly is better than Dark Angel, the flick’s original title.)

 

If anything, I Come in Peace works as a time capsule.  If you ever wondered what life was like in 1990, just watch this movie; it has it all.  Mullets, drugs, fanny packs, and Power Gloves.  That’s what life was all about back then.

 

And I have to say that any movie that can rip-off The Hidden (alien cop after an extraterrestrial fugitive), Predator (our hero going mano y mano with a giant alien), Phantasm (a tall white haired dude using round projectile instruments of death), AND Commando (the bad guy winds up impaled on a pipe) can’t be all that bad.

 

AKA:  Dark Angel.

 

Our next selection from the Dolph filmography is…

 

STORM CATCHER  (1999)  **

 

Dolph Lundgren stars as a stealth bomber pilot named Holloway.  When he’s not flying stealths, he’s coaching his daughter’s flag football team (this, if you can’t already tell will be an invaluable asset later in the picture).  While Holloway is camping with his family, his partner steals the bomber and frames him for the theft.  Holloway kills that no-good sumbitch, which leaves no one to fly the plane and bomb the White House for the demented general (who also happens to be Holloway’s boss).  Naturally, the general kidnaps Holloway’s daughter and coerces him into flying the stealth.  Little does he know about Holloway’s impeccable flag football coaching skills, which give him the upper hand on stopping the bad guys and saving the free world.

 

Storm Catcher had some considerable talent behind the camera.  The flick was directed by Anthony Hickox, who also directed Waxwork; a personal favorite.  It was also produced by my boy Jim Wynorski (using his pseudonym Noble Henry).  These guys are capable of making a good movie, but I think Storm Catcher’s aspirations were larger than the budget could provide.

 

This flick isn’t bad.  It’s just not very good either.  In fact, it’s not especially memorable one way or the other.  Some movies are so good they deserve hundreds of words on the subject.  Others are so bad that they deserve thousands.  Storm Catcher is a typical low budget Dolph actioner.  No more, no less.  I’m sorry but there’s just not a whole lot to say about this one.

 

Usually for my reviews I try to set a 200-250 word minimum.  For the Legendary reviews I try to bump that number up to 450-500 words to give the Legendary actor the respect they deserve.  That’s gonna be hard to do for Storm Catcher.  

 

For the most part, when I write my reviews, I have my laptop out and take notes during breaks in the action.  That usually gives me enough fodder for a good-sized review.  Not this time.  Because there wasn’t a whole lot here to take notes on, I instead found myself on the internet rearranging my Netflix queue, checking my Amazon shopping cart, and basically killing time during the slower sections of the film (of which there were quite a few).

 

It has its moments though.  There’s a funny scene where Dolph pretends to be from Brooklyn to steal some top secret info.  We also get a weird scene where Dolph is kidnapped in the back of an ice cream truck.  Other than that, this flick is middle of the roadsville all the way.

 

Dolph is a Legend of the Silver Screen, but even the greatest of Legends make their share of ho-hum movies.  He has some good moments (hearing him trying to speak with a Brooklyn accent is almost worth the price of admission) here and there and is as always, fun to watch.  His valiant efforts can’t single-handedly save this ultimately forgettable flick.

 

Look, I’m sorry if you were expecting an in-depth review of Storm Catcher.  I really am.  You shouldn’t be that disappointed though because this review features about as much padding as the movie itself.

 

AKA:  Mission Storm Catcher.

 

And our final film in our Dolph-travaganza is...

 

DIRECT CONTACT  (2009)  ***

 

Dolph Lundgren stars as a mercenary wasting away in a hellhole prison.  Michael Pare offers to spring him if he agrees to rescue an American chick being held hostage by a crazed crime boss.  As it turns out, the gal isn’t being held against her will (the audience figures this out way before Dolph does) and Pare only wants to get his hands on her because she’s the heir to an oil fortune.  Dolph naturally switches alliances and sets out to protect her from Pare and his goons.

 

Direct Contact gives us a lot of explosions, car chases, shootouts, and Kung Fu fights for our moviegoing dollar.  They aren’t quite masterpieces in their particular field but there are a LOT of them, so at least the movie is never boring.  No matter how generic Direct Contact gets, I can’t fault any movie that favors quantity over quality.  Although some of the car chase scenes suffer from piss poor green screen effects, it won’t matter too much if you’ve seen your share of action flicks from Nu Image.

 

Dolph again shows why he’s a Legend around these parts.  Even though his character is flatly written, Lundgren is able to make him seem human, realistic, and three-dimensional.  He also does a fine job in the action department too.  I particularly enjoyed him in the opening scene, which borrows a lot from Batman Begins (it starts with a bunch of convicts trying to kick our hero’s teeth in and he of course hands their asses to them).

 

Pare was good in this as well.  I liked the catty way he played off Dolph in the early going of the flick.  These guys have genuine chemistry together and I hope they get paired together again sometime in the near future.

 

Direct Contact is pretty par for the course for the most part, but it does score an occasional birdie now and then.  To keep the whole golfing metaphor going, the flick hits a hole in one on the 18th hole.  That moment comes when Dolph (Spoiler Alert) shoves a grenade down Pare’s shirt and he blows up.  When he does, it’s the very definition of overkill.  I don’t even think I saw an explosion; his body just automatically turns into the consistency of Jell-O before it gets refrigerated.  That is to say, this scene is fucking AWW-SUMM.

 

This flick is also notable for the sheer amount of collateral damage.  I counted at least three instances in which Dolph ducks a bullet and someone else winds up getting shot.  I thought that was pretty funny.

 

The movie is not perfect though.  I never bought Dolph and the babe as a couple and she makes the switch from hostage to lover a little too fast.  Also, the villains (aside from Pare that is) are all fairly standard issue and don’t pose much of a threat physically to Dolph.

 

So overall, Direct Contact is a good, not great Hero-Protecting-a-Babe-from-the-Bad-Guys-and-Being-Chased-Around-Avoiding-Gunfire-While-Periodically-Hiding-in-Abandoned-Buildings-Where-They-Chit-Chat-and-Make-Love-by-an-Open-Fire-Before-the-Final-Showdown-with-the-Villain movie.

 

AKA:  Guardian.

 

Next week, we’ll put Michael Dudikoff in the spotlight as he earns his Legendary credentials.

Comments

( 3 comments — Comment )
(Anonymous)
Apr. 14th, 2011 11:13 am (UTC)
Can't wait to make a contribution
Hi - I am definitely glad to find this. great job!
dtvconnoisseur
Apr. 14th, 2011 11:41 am (UTC)
The Rutger Hauer look-alike is Matthias Hues, whose path I'm sure you've come across in other films; and the guy chasing him is none other than ESPN NCAA basketball analyst and former Duke Blue Devil Jay Bilas, in his only movie role. Really cool. I agree on Storm catcher, though I loved the wielding of a futon in one fight, and agree on Direct Action; but I loved I Come in Peace much more. Bad action has it's own form of sophistication to me.
thevideovacuum
Apr. 14th, 2011 03:02 pm (UTC)
I had a discussion with Kenner...
where I told him I grade an action star's DTV output on a curve and their theatrical work a little more harshly. I Come in Peace has it's moments but it just didn't click for me. Something like Direct Contact comes with lowered expectations so when it gives you adequate bang for your buck (not to mention turning Michael Pare to Jell-O), you have to applaud it. Dolph's DTV films have in general gotten better lately and his performance was one of the best things about Expendables, so it makes me eager to see what he'll do next.
( 3 comments — Comment )

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