EDITOR’S NOTE: Did you know Die Hard was a Christmas movie? Shut up. Let’s talk about Dolph Lundgren fighting aliens over the Yuletide. Also not Dolph’s only holiday movie.
We were just discussing this movie as we opened Christmas gifts, because it has a different title now. Over the last few years, people have started referring to it by its original title Dark Angel, which was changed in the U.S. because there were two movies with that title in 1925 and 1935.
Director Craig R. Baxley started his career as a stuntman before moving into stunt coordination and second unit directing. Since then, he’s directed one of my favorite movies no one ever talks about — Stone Cold — as well as Action Jackson and the Stephen King adaptions Storm of the Century, Rose Red, The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer and Kingdom Hospital.
Jack Caine is a rough around the edges cop — he’s Dolph Lundgren, too — who is at war with the White Boys, a gang of white collar drug dealers who do stuff like kill partners and blow up police stations. They’re led by Victor Manning, played by Sherman Howard, who was Bub in Day of the Dead.
Caine is partnered with a by-the-book federal agent named Arwood “Larry” Smith, played by Brian Benben who you may remember from the HBO series Dream On. If you were a teen when there was no internet and you wanted guaranteed nudity.
Meanwhile, an alien drug dealer named Talec has come to Earth to leech out peoples’ brains. He’s portrayed by Matthias Hues, who is related to Engelbert Humperdinck and took over Van Damme’s role for No Retreat, No Surrender 2. He’s being pursued by Azeck, an alien cop. The guy who played him Jay Bilas, is on ESPN as a college basketball announcer, as he played for Duke University and was drafted fifth in the 1986 NBA Draft by the Dallas Mavericks. He was an assistant coach at Duke and is a practicing attorney in North Carolina.
David Ackroyd, who was in the TV movies Exo-Man and The Dark Secret of Harvest Home, plays Smith’s boss. Betsy Brantley (the body model for Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) is Lundgren’s girlfriend, a coroner who helps him track the alien criminal. Michael J. Pollard has a cameo as a criminal, World Celebrity Chess Champion Jesse Vint (Forbidden World, Deathsport) is Talec’s first victim and Al Leong shows up too, because he has to in any movie with cops and/or aliens.
Screenwriter David Koepp would move from this movie into some real blockbusters, like Death Becomes Her, Jurassic Park, Carlito’s Way, The Shadow, Mission: Impossible, Stir of Echoes (he also directed), Panic Room, Spider-Man, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and many more. He’s had an incredibly successful career and it all really got rolling here.
There’s been talk of a sequel for years, but at this point, I think only people like me — and maybe you reading this — would care. That said — I’m there whenever it comes out.
You can watch this on Tubi.