Dark Avenger (1990) – By Brian Morton

Have you ever seen a movie, and then, about half way through, noticed
that this wasn’t so much a movie as a pilot for a TV series. Then you
kind of feel cheated because you rented a movie, NOT a crappy TV
pilot!!! Alright, maybe there is something worse, like when they take
three or four episodes of a series and make it into a movie, that could
be worse, but I’m not sure this is a really tight race.

I had all these feelings and more when I watched the 1990 “movie”, Dark
Avenger. This is basically a bizarre mixture of Darkman, Phantom Of The
Opera and Batman. Now, those things aren’t all that far separated, but
when you blend them, you have to be careful. Its like mixed cleaning
solutions at home, you can either get a really good cleaner or a high
toxic mixture that will kill you. I think in the grand scheme of
things, Dark Avenger more closely equates to the toxic mixture than the
excellent cleaner. This is the story of a judge who after a horrible
accident involving acid (shades of Two Face, Batman) and survives. And,
after surviving this horrible accident, our judge friend puts on a half
a mask (shades of Phantom Of The Opera, Batman) and long dark coat and
hat (shades of Darkman, Batman) and begins fighting crime. Now, I know
I went too far with the Batman ‘shading’ but, hey, this movie went too
far ripping off all these things!

The problem I had, was that I wasn’t sure if Dark Avenger was a TV
pilot until about three quarters of the way through it, and that’s just
wrong. So, here’s the story, the Dark Avenger, who’s never really
called the dark avenger and his Asian sidekick (shades of Kato,
Batman…and that’s the last time, I promise) have an underground lab
where they use high tech gadgets to fight crime, well, they have high
tech gadgets and we get to see them in the lab, but our dark avenging
friend never really uses them in action. But the story goes from our
darkly avenging hero rescuing a hostage so his sister can testify in
some kind of mafia case, to avenging himself on the cops who acid-ized
his face and made him a dark avenger. And, through it all, you never
get to see his actual face, which, we’re told, is horrible disfigured,
but it would have been nice to see it, since we’re told about it.

All in all, if you’re in the mood for a dark, avenging hero who’s
horribly disfigured and fights injustice then you should probably rent
and watch Darkman, because Dark Avenger isn’t just a sub-par version of
Darkman, it’s substandard. And if you don’t know the difference, then
rent both and you can tell me.