Sunday, August 22, 2010

Dark Breed (1996)

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Tagline:

The Unknown has revealed itself.

Back of DVD:

Captain Saxon (Jack Scalia) an agent for the top secret Omega agency, has been given the assignment of tracking down and either capturing or killing the crew members of a secret space mission who returned to Earth against orders.

They are all infected with an alien parasite, and are trying to bring its eggs back to Earth. The eggs are lost in an accident, and both Saxon and the astronauts are trying to locate them. What could the government want them for?

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Movie Review:

This is a seriously action packed sci-fi movie from PM Entertainment. It pretty much never lets up. There are only a few very short scenes where the stars retreat from the action to catch a breath before heading out to another car chase and resulting explosion. And it almost entirely works as well.

A NASA space shuttle plummets to Earth and crashes into a lake. Almost immediately the area is surrounded by military personal and helicopters trying to secure the scene. Jack Scalia arrives, a military Captain for the Omega agency (a secret government branch of some description) and receives his orders from his superior, Mr. Cutter: Take control of the rescue operation and don't lose the friggen astronauts because they are infected with something. Nearby, a fireball crashes through the roof of a factory.

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Whilst everyone is looking for them, the astronauts quietly climb out of the water, but not all is quite right with them. This is obvious when they kill off any soldiers that get in their way - including punching a fist right through a guys stomach and out through his spine - and then steal a van. At seven minutes into the movie the first car chase is on but it is short lived as Scalia takes a rocket launcher and blows the thing up. The astronauts are hardy types and escape the fireball. They also speak as if their voices have been processed, much akin to the Goa'uld from Stargate. The five 'nauts stand in the the middle of the highway and cause a massive traffic pile up. One approaches a cop, declares that he is NASA, beats the cop senseless, snaps his neck and steal his car. The others take a truck, leading us onto a second car chase. This is about twelve minutes in.

Jack Scalia gets to the truck by dropping out of a helicopter and onto the roof. Once inside he wrestles with one of the astronauts, a former colleague apparently. "What the hell happened to you Joe?" he asks. "Your friend Joe has evolved." Scalia is strangled and thrown off the truck, but that's okay because the truck slams into traffic, its cargo falls onto the cop car and explodes in slow motion. This scene obviously cost a bit as they showed the crash three times. The cop car lands on its side and slides along the ground. Dark synth choir music plays over the top, and four of the five astronauts escape in the trucks cabin car.

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I get the feeling from the first twenty-five minutes that PM managed to get their largest budget ever on this movie. The amount of explosions and firepower is pretty amazing. Every single scene has a large fireball in it, usually the result of a bazooka being shot into a car. The special effects are also pretty respectable for a (comparatively) small mid-90's movie, with some not-too-disgraceful CG and regular effects in play. A drunk bum goes to see what that fireball was that crashed through the factory roof in the beginning and finds a metallic capsule with buttons on it. He stupidly presses one and it opens up, revealing some glowing green objects. Next thing you know a blue laser shoots from inside and sends the guy flying into a wall. That bit was pretty funny.

Scalia and his female Lieutenant Burgess are briefed the following morning by one of the top dogs at the Omega agency and it's reaffirmed to them the importance of capturing the astronauts, though this time it's 'dead or alive'. They are unaware though that out of the six original astronauts, and excluding the one hospitalised, only four are on the run. The sixth is Scalia's ex-wife who exits the water by herself when the search has retreated. She pushes buttons on an alien looking device and looks pretty hot whilst doing so. At the Omega hospital, the Doctor is examining the downed astronaut. His muscles flex with CG effects of something under his skin and he breaks free, thrashing around the hospital squealing like a pig, until Scalia pushes him through three separate glass windows and Omega soldiers blow him away.

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Dark Breed a very B sci-fi action movie, drawing on the best parts of Aliens, Predator 2, Species, Stargate and Dolph Lundgren's I Come In Peace. It's quite dark, in atmosphere and scenery as most of it occurs at night. The acting is suprisingly reasonable from most parties, though Scalia is deadpan for the most part. When he tries to get emotional, he fails. When an ex-marine drunk bum approaches the team's stakeout van asking for change, Scalia gets all teary. "Third recon? God bless you buddy." Ham. You can almost see the American flag waving behind him.

The astronauts escape to an abandoned warehouse and sleep. When they awake they seem normal. Joe, the leader, says that "they aren't sleeping, they're here" and that they must destroy themselves to save mankind. Before he gets the chance to pull the trigger, the astronauts get re-possessed one by one by their parasites and start searching for the downed capsule. Interesting note; one of the astronauts is Johnson from all the RoboCop movies. Omega soldiers including Scalia and his team turn up and trash the place looking for them, including another bazooka fired at an astronaut. This time it does get him, though somehow he survives. These alien parasites are resilient bastards. If you were hit by a bazooka to the face, you would no longer have a face.

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Scalia's ex-wife makes her appearance in a real chicks-with-guns moment and fires warning shots with a machine gun. She yells to Scalia, "Tomorrow. Second honeymoon." then blows up the injured astronaut. The female Omega doctor commences an autopsy - right there in the warehouse - but is scared off when she is attacked by the dead guys heart! It flies at her like an Alien facehugger. She refuses to do any more autopsy and is arrested, taken to headquarters and tortured for her insubordination.

Scalia sneaks into the Omega HQ and does some Hollywood OS computer hackery to find out more about what happened on the failed NASA mission. Lot's of "Damn, it's encrypted" then just entering a password to get in. The computer echoes the same message that the MOTHER computer said in the original Alien - "Capture specimen. Original mission parameters eliminated. Crew expendable." Scalia now pissed, triggers the alarms which alerts the guards and he has a punch-on before heading to Mr. Cutter who in true James Bond fashion explains the entire plot to him. Upset with the answers he receives, he flees Omega with the female doctor and is instantly put to the top of the country's most wanted list. With the doctor in tow, Scalia follows the words of his ex-wife and goes to the location of his second honeymoon to await contact.

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Dark Breed is an enjoyable flick and like I said in the opening paragraph, almost works well. The problem is it takes itself entirely too seriously, only letting its guard down on a few brief moments. It needed more humour to 'fun' it up a bit. Sure the huge amount of explosions and gunplay is great, but without humour it actually does get a little tiresome. No one-liners, no comedy relief characters. Scalia's ex-wife is pretty good eye candy though and does get a slight bit of humour when she orders half the menu at a cafe just to piss off the waitress. She then explains that she is here to help destroy the others of the Dark Breed before the shit really hits the fan.

The movie ends in a huge three way battle between Omega troops, the Doctor, the ex-wife alien, Scalia and his loyal team members, and the alien astronauts themselves. Finally one of the aliens matures and bursts out of his human host's skin revealing, basically, a Predator crossed with an Alien - just not as good. They snarl like the demons from the video game Doom and make for some gory kills and are unintentionally hilarious. The budget on Dark Breed may have been one of the largest for PM, but that still amounts to guys in rubber suits for aliens.

Fun and action packed, and worthy of a re-watch, but it could have been funner if the tone was just a little lighter.

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The Video:

The DVD was of very good quality, demonstrating a sharp fullscreen presentation with solid stereo sound. Nothing spectacular but I doubt any PM Entertainment movie will ever boast a spectacular presentation. Extra special mention to perhaps the ugliest menu on a DVD I have ever seen. Go Flashback Entertainment! Runtime 96 minutes.

Trailer:

More Screens:

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6 comments:

  1. Yeah this is easily one of PM's top films, it's up there with Rage, Last Man Standing, The Sweeper, Cybertracker 2, Steel Frontier and Hologram Man, i'd also strongly recommend you check out some Nu Image films(Nu Image was the production company for The Expendables just so you know) as most of them usually have a prettty high budget as well and are just as, if not more entertaining then Pm's films. Some Nu Image films i'd reccomend are: Special Forces, Marines, Air Strike, Scarred City, Hard Justice, Direct Contact, the Cyborg Cop series, The Immortals, Lethal Ninja, Warhead, the Project Shadowchaser films(well except for part 3, which is more of a horror film), Deadly Outbreak, Merchant Of Death, Human Timebomb, the Operation Delta Force series, the U.S. SEALS series, Top Of The World, Windfall, Derailed, Bridge Of Dragons, Cold Harvest, Death Train, The Order, Out For a Kill, Ninja, and Target Of Opportunity.

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  2. Thanks for the list of Nu Image films venom! I am very familiar with their stuff and loved the fact that they produced The Expendables. I have seen some of the ones you mentioned above, particularly the Dolph movies, but haven't heard of ones like Special Forces or Warhead. I'll have a browse around for some of these! I've also been patiently waiting for the local release of Ninja, so expect a review of that one as soon as I can get a hold of it.

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  3. Good review, and the movie sounds like it is actually pretty decent. Although I do note that there's a lack of sexytimes - probably due to everything blowing up.

    If you're into sci-fi and big bangs you need to watch this though (NSFW)

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  4. I started hunting for more Nu Image movies. Check out how much this guy wants for the Deadly Outbreak DVD: http://tinyurl.com/26dgk67

    Sure the trailer is gold, but the whole movie was probably made for this much!

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  5. Dark Breed looks amazing! Great review! You're absolutely right, The deadly outbreak trailer is pure gold! "You forgot to wear your bulletproof cup!"

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  6. Loved this one. After Dark Breed I watched a bunch of Scalia`s movies...

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