Dark Forces (aka Harlequin) DVD Review
Written by Peter West
DVD released by Elite Entertainment
Directed by Simon Wincer
Written by Everett De Roche
1980, Region 1 (NTSC), 95 minutes, Rated PG
DVD released on June 8th, 2004
Robert Powell as Gregory Wolfe
David Hemmings as Nick Rast
Carmen Duncan as Sandra Rast
Broderick Crawford as Doc Wheelan
Gus Mercurio as Mr. Bergier
Alan Cassell as Mr. Porter
Mark Spain as Alex Rast
Alyson Best as Alice
A Cabinet Minister disappears while swimming and Senator Nick Rast (David Hemmings, Thirst, Deep Red) is given the nod to replace him. Rast has his own problems at home, his son is terminally ill and his marriage is falling apart. Entering into their lives is a stranger Gregory Wolfe (Robert Powell), who claims to have healing powers. Rast's son Alex improves under the influence of Wolfe and his mother starts becoming more and more dependent on the mysterious stranger.
Fearing the Rasputin like influence that Wolfe has over the Senator's family, Rast's political handler Doc Wheelan (played by the incomparable Broderick Crawford of "Highway Patrol" fame) sees him as a threat. Doc Wheelan makes it his mission to expose the "Dark Forces" behind Wolfe and sever the bond he has with he Rast family. In this dirty world of politics which forces are truly dark?
Winner of two international Fantasy/sci-fi Film Awards, Dark Forces aka Harlequin is a absolutely wonderful film. Here's a link to IMDB's list of nominations: Link to IMDB
Dark Forces is more of a fantasy than a sci-fi or horror film. There is a little gore and of course with all Antony I. Ginnane movies I've reviewed, the mandatory breast shots. However unlike the others which were very good, this is one of the best movies I've reviewed. William Powell literally becomes the Harlequin in some of the best "method" acting I have ever seen. He draws you in like he does the Rast family and entrances the viewer. Powell is a highly acclaimed actor on the British Stage, Americans may recognize him from the movie Tommy playing Captain Walker (Tommy's father). Combined with the solid performances of Hemmings and Crawford this modern day tale of Rasputin will keep your interest peaked throughout.
Dark Forces could easily fall through the cracks in it's DVD release. I sincerely hope that does not happen. The fine acting, direction, cinematography make this a sure bet if you're into "good" movies. So don't buy it if you're expecting a slasher or creature flick, instead buy it if you enjoy being entertained in the classic style of a well done film!
Video and Audio:
Presented in a anamorphic 2.35:1 aspect ratio, Dark Forces has been restored to it's original brilliance. Mostly filmed on location in Perth Australia, the exterior shots complement the fine cinematography. Another great job by Elite Entertainment!
Dark Forces like most of Associated Screen Artist's films of the time has a excellent musical score by the late Brian May. As with Patrick, Thirst and Strange Behavior, it complements the movie well. It is presented in mono on a Dolby Digital 2.0 track. May is more famous for the Mad Max series, however this is one of his better less famous efforts!
Once again this is where Elite Entertainment and ASA shine! Dark Forces is jam packed with goodies. Here's a list of what's included:
- New Digital Transfer
- 16 x 9 Anamorphic WideScreen
- Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
- Commentary Track with Director Simon Wincer and Producer Antony I. Ginnane
- Animated Motion Menus
- 24 Chapters with Motion Images
- Trailer Gallery
- Behind-the-Scenes Photo Gallery
- Isolated Music Score
The isolated movie score is beautiful and the commentary is as enjoyable as it is informative. All of Elite's previous ASA releases are included in the trailer gallery. My rating 4/5
Films that Peter West reviews are viewed on a Mitsubishi WS-55413 HDTV and listened to on a THX certified Pioneer Elite VSX-55TXi A/V Receiver through a 7.1 setup of JBL Northridge E series Speakers.