Nothing Says Christmas Like Alien Drug Dealers: I COME IN PEACE (1990) Review

I really don’t think Dolph Lundgren had as big of a career in the eighties as he should have. Yeah, most of the movies he made were awesome (see: Rocky IV, Red Scorpion, The Punisher, etc.), but I really felt the man was a really good action star, and it’s sad that a majority of the action movies he’s made were released post-2000. While not eighties (it’s close enough), one of the movies he graced with his presence was an action-sci-fi flick that takes place during Christmas (keeping with the theme)! Originally called Dark Angel, this one was released in the States under the much better moniker…

I COME IN PEACE (1990) Review

It’s Christmas in Houston, but maverick cop Jack Cane (Lundgren) is anything but merry. He’s on the rocks with his girlfriend, his partner was just killed by a gang of yuppie drug dealers known as the White Boys, and their boss has fled to Rio. To make matters worse, he’s assigned to investigate a rash of strange murders where all the victims had puncture wounds on their chest and on their head with uptight Fed Agent Smith (Brian Benben) as his new partner. Ad the two begin digging deeper into the case, they discover that an alien drug dealer is harvesting human endorphins to sell as a popular drug on his planet, and a good alien has followed him to stop him. The unlikely pair must prevent the alien from reaching his home planet with the drugs, or else thousands more of his kind will come and turn Earth into an abattoir. Can they defeat this dirtbag extraterrestrial and save Christmas?

The title of I Come in Peace refers to the only line of dialogue the bad alien keeps repeating throughout the movie, which also leads to one of the greatest one-liners of all time at the end. That aside, I Come in Peace is easily one of the best action-Christmas movies ever made (Die Hard still reigns supreme). The set up is as stereotypical as they come (set during Christmas, the loose cannon cop paired up with the by-the-books cop, the drug dealers, etc.), but the real fun is in the details. Dolph Lundgren is entertainingly corny as Cane, and it’s nice to see him in a role other than the “strong silent type” variety. Brian Benben is perfect in his role and his acting alone contributes to a lot of the laughs I got from the movie. Of course, I have to mention Matthias Hughes, who plays the bad alien. With his eerie white eyes and 6’5” frame, he’s definitely one of the most intimidating villains in memory, especially when he’s sprinting at you and roaring. There’s even an appearance by the always-amusing Michael J. Pollard (who appeared in the similarly-themed Split Second and Sleepwaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland, my favorite of the series).

There aren’t very many faults to be found, but the ones present are just incidental stuff. For one, Jack comes to the conclusion that the deaths are a result of an alien drug dealer really fast without a whole lot of reason for him to believe so, but hey, anything to move the plot along. The stuff with the White Boys really does nothing for the plot and seems like filler in the long run, but at least it’s exciting filler! Other than that, I Come in Peace is perfection. The pace is perfect for the film, as it’s not tediously slow and not so fast it feels rushed. The dialogue and characters filling the downtime between action scenes are fun, and it feels like genuine care was put into writing it. The fights are brilliantly staged, which is no surprise considering director Craig R. Baxley was a renowned stunt man before helming this and a few movies prior (who also had some incredible hair back in the day; look it up).

And speaking of action, I Come in Peace might be the most explosive movie of all time! In fact, I actually counted the number of fiery bursts this film contains and got something in the range of 30! No CGI, either! The alien also uses some really awesome and imaginative weapons throughout the movie, like the tube it uses to inject heroin into his victims, the explosive gun, the spike used for extracting endorphins, and the coolest of them all is the flying buzz saw programmed to slice throats. In fact, it almost feels like a slasher movie in some respects as the alien just goes around Houston bumping off civilians one by one as the cops track him down, all added to the fact that the alien is one scary SOB!

If you couldn’t tell, I’m a huge fan of I Come in Peace, and for good reason. It’s one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time, even though not a whole lot is done with the holiday plot-wise. It fully delivers on all aspects of fun film-going, from the fight scenes and explosions to the characters and comic relief. It’s just a blast from start to finish with miniscule weak spots that are overlooked faster than logic in a courthouse. Dolph has never been in better form, and everybody around him is keeping up. For some reason, this never saw a DVD release until last year when MGM released it on a DVD-R with some awesome cover art and…really nothing else. The transfer does look good, but besides the trailer, there’s no bonus material. That DVD goes under the title Dark Angel, which is both a good and bad thing to do. It’s good that they acknowledge the film’s original title, but a majority of its fans only know it as I Come in Peace, so they may not realize it’s the same movie. But no matter what title it goes by, this is still absolutely, undeniably essential.

The Verdict: It just isn’t a merry Christmas without any Dolph Lundgren alien-fighting action, which is why it’s imperative you add I Come in Peace to your holiday movie-watching rotation if you haven’t done so already. Move over, Santa! Lundgren’s coming to town this year.

Score: 10/10

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