Whoosh! Issue 17 - February 1998

A Whoosh! Review
By Mark Allen
Copyright © 1997 held by author
1621 words

Author's Note: You might be wondering why I have decided to do a review of a movie starring Renee O'Connor and not one of her television roles instead. The problem with television as a medium is that generally TV shows do not travel outside their country of origin unless the are either (a) very good, (b) from the United States, or (c) both (this is not a slur on U.S. shows, it is merely that there are so many shows coming out of the States!).

The majority of Lucy Lawless' and Renee O'Connor's acting careers have been spent making shows that never travelled outside New Zealand or the United States. (Equally so, there are a number of good shows made here in Australia that will unfortunately never be seen anywhere else. Such is the tyranny of distance, and different world TV formats. Pity.) After making a few notes about Ms. Lawless' and Ms. O'Connor's careers, I went down to my local video store, and found this video, so here it is.

Darkman II: The Return of Durant

There's a man stuck to my face.

The DARKMAN II LaserDisc cover.

[01] In the first Darkman movie (Sam Raimi, 1990), Dr. Peyton Westlake (played by Liam Neeson) is a scientist working to produce a synthetic skin for medical purposes. Unfortunately for Dr. Westlake, his attorney girlfriend has discovered some important evidence against the underworld figure, Robert Durant (played by Larry Drake, from television's LA Law).

[02] When his laboratory is ransacked by henchmen looking for this evidence, Dr. Westlake is attacked and badly burnt. Against all odds, Dr. Westlake survives, although horribly disfigured, and vows vengeance against his attackers. Using his artificial skin he is able to make face masks of the gang members who attacked him, and kill them one by one, until he faces Durant in an exciting helicopter chase.

[03] In Darkman II: The Return Of Durant (Bradford May, 1994), several years have passed, and Darkman (now played by Arnold Vosloo), as Dr. Westlake now calls himself, is still unable to perfect his artificial skin, which dissolves after 99 minutes in the sunlight. Reading a medical journal, he discovers a Dr. Brinkman has been following his research, and has had more success in overcoming some of the problems of creating a stable artificial skin. After a meeting with Dr. Brinkman, Peyton begins to believe that his days of exile from society might be near.

[04] Meanwhile, Robert Durant has emerged from a coma after four years, and discovers that his criminal empire is being overrun by his competition. In an attempt to restore his position, he frees a scientist from a mental asylum who specializes in designing high power weapons. Durant then decides that the ideal site to manufacture this new weapon is the very same factory that Dr. Brinkman is working in!

[05] Until now I was wondering just how long it would be before Renee O'Connor would appear, and after twenty-five minutes she is finally introduced as Laurie, the younger sister of Dr Brinkman.

Up next...Jill will show you how NOT to inhale.

Kim Delaney as TV journalist Jill Randall.

[06] When Dr. Brinkman refuses to sell the factory to Durant, he is killed, and to Darkman's horror, all his research is destroyed. When Darkman discovers that Durant was behind this attack, he tells a TV journalist (Kim Delaney) about his suspicions. After ignoring his warning to be cautious, the journalist uses this story on her show, and is then killed by a mysterious car bomb.

[07] Darkman then tries to warn Laurie, who is being pressured to sell the factory to Durant. At the last minute, Laurie becomes suspicious, and decides not to sign the contract. Darkman, disguised as one of the gang members, tries to help Laurie escape, only to see her taxi get caught in traffic, and with the time limit of his face mask about to expire, he must reluctantly allow her to be captured by Durant's gang.

[08] Using another disguise, Darkman disrupts a demonstration of the new supergun that Durant is trying to sell to a right wing political party. By switching masks, he is able to confuse, and then kill the gang members, until he comes face to face with Durant.

I'd give a finger for my staff...

Renee's character is flanked by Durant (left) and another baddie (right).

[09] As Durant is about to fire the supergun on Darkman, Laurie picks up a gun from one of the dead gang members, and shoots Durant. The bullet hits the gun, and after a brief struggle, Durant flees to the safety of his amoured limousine and tries to escape with Laurie. Darkman uses a remote control device to stop the car, allowing Laurie to flee to safety. Darkman finally gets his revenge by setting off a car bomb that kills Durant.

[10] I saw the original Darkman movie in the cinema, and thought it was a good movie. One bonus was the presence of an Australian actor that I like in one of the minor roles. Darkman II went straight to video, and deserves it. There are too many illogical gaps in this story for the viewer to maintain their belief.

[11] Just how likely is it for Durant to emerge from a four year coma and seem none the worse for wear, and just in time to upset Darkman's plans to restore his life?!!.

[12] Why does the early part of the movie take the time to explore the character of an ambitious television reporter working for a tabloid television show called "Street Copy", only to kill her off with 30 minutes of the movie still to go? Perhaps only so that the director can shamelessly have a camera pan in to a TV set in a store window, showing a tribute to her before the end credits start?

[13] And why does Laurie work in a strip club, in an unexplained capacity, when she is wearing more clothes than Darkman?

[14] The overall feeling from this movie is of watching an ambitious pilot for a television series. Darkman works in a large underground laboratory, equipped with a computer that talks in a female voice, and travels around the city on a home-built electric train that runs on the underground rail system!!

Oh, that *was* a gun in your pocket!

Renee packs heat in DARKMAN II.

[15] The only real reason for watching this movie is for the curiosity value of seeing Renee O'Connor in a non-Xena role, and given the limitations of her character, she does a good job.

[16] There was another Darkman movie made two years later, Darkman III: Die Darkman Die (Bradford May, 1996), which I have yet to see, but with that subtitle of "Die Darkman Die", it does not sound too promising. Perhaps the only reason to take a look at it is to check out the performance of Roxanne Dawson, who plays the Klingon engineer on Star Trek: Voyager.

[17] To sum up the movie, if it was to come on late night TV, tape it and go to bed. It is not worth losing sleep over. Alternatively, if your video store has a copy, return it on time, because getting an overdue fine for the late return of this movie would be a waste of money.

Darkman II: The Return of Durant (Bradford May, 1994)

Larry Drake   Robert G Durant
Arnold VoslooDarkman/Peyton Westlake
Kim DelanyJill Randall
Renee O'ConnorLaurie Brinkman
Jesse CollinsDr. David Brinkman
Reference: Internet Movie Database


Mark Allen Mark Allen
G'day, my name is MARK ALLEN, I'm a 31-year-old electronics technician from Sydney Australia. I'm a keen fan of the local Rugby League competition team the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, (They only just lost this years Grand Final, the other team won the game with only 6 seconds left in the game!)
Every summer holidays I get a chance to get out of Sydney and visit a Uncle in South Australia, and spend my time fishing, drinking, and generally living the outdoor life. It only takes my liver about 2 weeks to recover.
I guess you could say sci fi TV shows had a big influence on my early life. When I was 6 I was so scared by an episode of Dr Who, I wasn't allowed to watch it again until I was 12. I guess everyone who likes Dr. Who was afraid of the Daleks at one stage!
Watching so many TV shows over the years has really filled my brain with lots of useless information. I never knew just how much until one of the guys here at work entered me into a trivia contest on a national radio station, I was up against a woman who knew the name of the next door neighbours of the Brady Bunch!! Thankfully I won, and I recieved an album of Patrick Hernandes, (remember his only hit "Born to be Alive"?)
Over the years I have seen a lot of TV programs come and go, and I guess the best way to enjoy them is to accept the fun side to them and not take them too seriously. That's probably why I like Xena, it's not afraid to have a laugh at times, and some of the jokes can be quite dark.
I guess in a strange way, Xena and Dr. Who are a bit similar, they both have a main character who travels with a companion, and they both fight evil wherever it appears. Argo is definitely more reliable that the TARDIS, and a lot faster than K9!
Still wondering who the Brady's neighbours were, they were called the Ditmars, and they were only seen in one episode!!
Favorite episode: THE GREATER GOOD (21/121)
Favorite line: Xena: "I have many skills" THE BLACK WOLF (11/111)
Least favorite episode: CRADLE OF HOPE (04/104)

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