15 August 2009

I Come In Peace

United States - 1989
Director- Craig R Baxley
Media Home Entertainment, 1990, VHS
Runtime – 1 hour, 32 min.

I remember seeing trailers for this film on TV. I would have been 9 years old or so and based on those memories I have spent 20 years pining for the day I might get to see this film myself. I worked for a Chef many years ago who also had fond childhood memories of this film and we commiserated over it several times, he remembering it nostalgically, and I vicariously soaking up his belated joy.
It wasn’t until about 2 or three months ago that I stumbled headlong across this beautiful, nearly pristine Media VHS tape at a massive benefit sale and swooped upon it like a hunting falcon. There was no danger of competition, the field of battle was empty. And hence I mount this magnetically charged trophy upon my shelf of fading glory.

First, this tape opens with trailers for Delta Force 2, and David Lynch’s Wild at Heart. An interesting combination to precede Lundgren. My experience with Dolph is extremely limited, perhaps a surprise considering my age and love of exploitation film. But until the last 5 years or so I didn’t go in much for action. I’m seeing this fresh.

Any good copsploitation movie from the era must open with a violent shooting heist or the other standard option, a stakeout (usually gone bad). In this case, minds could not be made up, and both options sounded good so there is a heist and a stakeout gone bad at the same time. Followed immediately by another heist pulled on the crooks who ruined the stakeout. As if that wasn’t overwhelming enough, Dolph Lundgren is the cop who survives and has to put all the pieces of this puzzle back together.

The second heist is committed using a crazy weapon that looks like a CD, no wait, it is a CD. This suggests that there is something not to be trusted about the digital format. (If this movie ever makes it to DVD I’m crying foul.) In any case this is quickly forgotten.Turns out that the owner of the CD is an evil alien who is killing off the local drug cartel, the White Boys for their heroin.

Walking the streets of Houston the alien reassures his victims of his friendly intentions with a raspy “I come in peace” before injecting them in the heart with a massive dose of heroin in order to extract the subsequent endorphins from their brain which he then transports back to his own planet as a drug.

Wouldn’t it make more sense for the aliens to just shoot up heroin and generate their own endorphins? No, because if they need endorphins they must not naturally have any, hence they are incapable of feeling pleasure. If this is true the aliens world must be populated exclusively with brutal warriors fucking each other up simply because pain is the only thing they know. So, he’s trying to bring an end to warfare on his own planet, so he kind-of really does come in peace? However, to that end we must first endure Caine as “rogue cop” with standard reluctance to get a partner, in this case made worse because partner is an FBI agent and everyone knows the Feds only let bureaucratic hierarchy get in the way of pragmatic local law enforcement. Still, the estranged girlfriend and fringe “lone gunman” pal have to help propel this generic cop-actioner plus second-thought-alien toward its conclusion.

A nerd attempts some coarse analysis amidst the complex social commentary of I Come In Peace.

Perhaps more plausibly the only reason the alien says I come in peace –since he makes no other such overtures- is so that at the end of the film after blowing the alien up Caine can utter the long awaited implicit one-liner.
Awesome, American cinema is all about the catharsis of destruction.


Ty said...

Classic Dolph and Benben!

The drug dealer gang name is hilarious: The White Guys!...very scary!

jordan said...

It's difficult to pick my favorite Dolph Lundgren flick. I first saw this when I was in junior high. I have it on vhs still. But, I'm torn. I think my vote goes for his commanding performance in Masters of the Universe for first place, Showdown in Little Tokyo for second place and sadly, THEN I Come in Peace.

The Goodkind said...

Hey, I understand. I need to see Master of the Universe again, so maybe my opinion will change.