Monday, January 22, 2018

Darkman III: Die Darkman Die

Even more so than DARKMAN II: THE RETURN OF DURANT, this entertaining direct-to-video sequel focuses on the villain of the piece, rather than the mysterious superhero Darkman. Larry Drake was terrific as Durant in DARKMAN — smart, erudite, eccentric — but DARKMAN II turned him into a standard television heavy. In DARKMAN III, Jeff Fahey (THE LAWNMOWER MAN) chews a lot of scenery both as Peter Rooker, a nasty drug lord, and in scenes in which Rooker is impersonated by Darkman. Arnold Vosloo, back from DARKMAN II as Peyton Westlake, has less to do this time around.

Rooker and his unscrupulous lover Dr. Bridget Thorne (Darlanne Fluegel) kidnap Westlake and use his bodily fluids to fabricate a designer steroid that makes Rooker’s flunkies strong enough to take over the city. Westlake, who uses a self-developed synthetic skin to disguise his horrible burns, escapes and impersonates members of Rooker’s gang — and, of course, Rooker himself — in an effort to retrieve his formula. While disguised as Rooker, he becomes drawn to the criminal’s sequestered wife (Roxann Biggs-Dawson) and daughter (Alicia Panetta), who are ignored and later endangered by Rooker.

This sequel and DARKMAN II were shot back-to-back by director Bradford May on a reported $7 million budget, explaining the use of stock footage from previous films (inserts of Vosloo are cut into origin flashbacks to DARKMAN). Vosloo does a nice job in his limited screen time, but it’s Fahey who garners the lion’s share of the movie’s best lines and situations. More or less playing a dual role, Fahey and those big blue eyes hold the screen throughout while playing to the comic book crowd.

Unfortunately for Vosloo, because Westlake’s “power” requires many different actors to portray him, he has difficulty making an impression. Of course, he did in DARKMAN II as well, where he had a better opportunity to carry the film. The screenplay by Michael Colleary and Mike Werb — which plays like a first draft of their FACE/OFF — doesn’t give Rooker much of a personality, leaving it mainly to Fahey to make the heavy interesting, which he certainly does.

1 comment:

Grant said...

Whenever a story has a "villainess" character, like the Dr. Thorne character you describe, I look for spoilers about what eventually happens to her. That's because I can't help noticing that adventure stories use the same few cliches with female villains even more than with male villains.