“One fights for justice. The other for power. Only one can survive.”
Directed by Bradford May
Starring Jeff Fahey and Arnold Voosloo
Faceless vigilante Darkman – aka Dr Peyton Westlake (Voosloo) – crosses paths with ruthless mobster, Peter Rooker. In revenge, Rooker’s henchling-cum-mistress, Dr Bridget Thorne tricks Darkman so she can implant him with a pain inducing device, in order to study him and find out why his tactile insensitivity gives him superhuman powers.
There are some fights and stuff, culminating with a warehouse battle to save Rooker’s wife – with whom Westlake has fallen in love – and daughter. Then Westlake sacrifices his chance to look properly normal by using his only sample of perfected synthetic skin to repair the kid’s face, which was burned by natural gas in the fight. Bless.
What’s wrong with it?
Die, Darkman, Die is a ham-fisted follow-up to a ham-fisted follow-up to a Sam Raimi film that wasn’t exactly subtle to begin with. Voosloo chews on the scenery like he’s trying to stop his incisors growing down to pierce his own chest, and sad to say he’s the actor in the bunch. The plot also lacks tension and is overly sentimental.
Once again, I’m having real trouble remembering the character names in this one.
What’s right with it?
The basic premise of Darkman remains good: A scientist hideously disfigured and isolated from the world uses a talent for mimicry and masks of synthetic skin to fight crime, aided by the psychotic strength granted him by the severing of his central nervous system.
How bad is it really?
In parts painfully bad, mostly during the surprise birthday party scene, where Darkman – disguised as the villain – confuses Rooker’s party guests by acting like a decent human being. Bless.
Darkman’s beat-up old maintenance train that he uses to zip around the subway.
What’s up with…?
- The kid’s face being burned by natural gas? Note that the gas is not on fire at the time. She simply gets a face full of vapour from a tank marked ‘natural gas’, and comes away all disfigured.
Production values: Not so good. Some decent makeup on scarred Darkman, but mostly he’s just wearing a scarf. The rest is all bullet sparks and some cut-rate wire-work. 9
Dialogue and performances: Oh my lord. Voosloo lays out each and every line as though it were a Shakespearean soliloquy, including lines like ‘My name is Dr Peyton Westlake’ and ‘Hello’. Fahey just snarls like a rabid dog and the rest of the cast are utterly forgettable.19
Plot and execution: Rattles on well enough, but without much energy and an excess of mawkish sentimentality that slows the film right down in the touchy-feely scenes. 14
Randomness: Solid. Nothing ridiculously out there once the premise is established, aside from the heavily acidic natural gas of course. 4
Waste of potential: As with the Turtles, Darkman could – and did – make a better film than this. Even for number three though, this was not a great success. 10