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Darkman III: Die Darkman Die Reviews

Sam Raimi's unconventional superhero returns in DARKMAN III: DIE DARKMAN DIE. Like its predecessor, DARKMAN II: THE RETURN OF DURANT, this eager-to-please sequel manages to evoke some of the thrills that Raimi so deftly delivered with the original DARKMAN. As in Raimi's EVIL DEAD films, DARKMAN III begins with a pre-credit sequence summarizing Dr. Peyton Westlake/Darkman's story thus far. Grotesquely burned and superhumanly strong, Westlake (Arnold Vosloos) works in his underground lab, trying to perfect the liquid skin that allows him to look normal. Frustratingly, the skin only lasts 99 minutes before dissolving. Westlake thwarts a drug deal set up by the ruthless Peter Rooker (Jeff Fahey) and uses the money for his research. Still, his equipment is insufficient, and it seems fortuitous when Dr. Bridget Thorne (Darlanne Fleugel) tracks Westlake down and offers him the use of her well-equipped lab. Westlake breaks the 99 minute barrier, but before he can use his new skin, Thorne, who works for Rooker, renders him unconscious. Rooker and Thorne plan to build an army of supercrooks using steroids made from Westlake's adrenal glands. Darkman escapes, but not before Thorne synthesizes the steroid. Attempting to recover his perfected skin formula, Westlake follows Rooker. He discovers that not only was the steroid experiment a success, but that the mobster plans to use his supercrooks to kill the crusading new district attorney. Using liquid skin to disguise himself as Rooker, Westlake enters the criminal's house to retrieve his formula. He is sidetracked by Rooker's neglected wife and daughter, however, who awaken in him feelings he had thought were long dead. Westlake foils the assassination attempt and tracks Rooker to a warehouse, where he discovers that the crime boss is holding his own wife and daughter hostage. After doing away with the supercrooks, Darkman defeats Rooker, who has enhanced himself with the steroid. In the battle, the computer disk containing the liquid skin formula is destroyed, leaving only a small sample. Although there is just enough left to restore Westlake's face, he sacrifices his needs to help Rooker's daughter, whose face was badly burned during the fight. Although he has let Rooker's wife and daughter get close to him, Westlake realizes that he must return to his quest alone. Returning for his second DARKMAN film, cinematographer-director Bradford May does an admirable job of sustaining Raimi's original vision. Although DARKMAN III lacks the quirky personality and whiz-bang pacing of the first film, May manages to slip in a few of Raimi's trademark hyper zooms and lightning edits to goose the action sequences. Although original Darkman Liam Neeson's presence is missed, Vosloos does a nice job as the conflicted Westlake, and the film actually manages to develop the Darkman character. As the film begins, Westlake is a bitter loner, but his contact with Rooker's wife and daughter allow him to once again appreciate companionship. Fahey also deserves credit for creating a new nemesis for Darkman who is not simply a retread of the first two films' sinister Durant. The production boasts impressive visuals in the form of blue screen pyrotechnics and various makeup effects. It is clear that DARKMAN III is not a mere cash-in on the original's popularity, and that the intention is to continue Darkman's adventures in future films released directly to home video. Compared with the prospect of double digit installments of CRITTERS, PUPPETMASTER, or DOLLMAN, that doesn't seem like such a dark thing. (Graphic violence, profanity).