Two New York cops get involved in a gang war between members of the Yakuza, the Japanese Mafia. They arrest one of their killers and are ordered to escort him back to Japan. However, in Japan he manages to escape, and as they try to track him down, they get deeper and deeper into the Japanese Mafia scene and they have to learn that they can only win by playing the game—the Japanese way.
If you pull it-you better use it. Black Rain is directed by Ridley Scott and written by Craig Bolotin and Warren Lewis. It stars Michael Douglas, Andy Garcia, Ken Takakura, Kate Capshaw, Yusaku Matsuda and Tomisaburo Wakayama. Music is by Hans Zimmer and cinematography by Jan de Bont. After New York cops Nick Conklin (Douglas) and Charlie Vincent (Garcia) arrest a sword wielding psychopath named Sato Koji (Matsuda), they are tasked with escorting him back to Osaka in Japan. From here they are plunged into a war that is brewing in the Japanese underworld. You see there's a war going on here and they don't take no prisoners. Welcome to Blade Runner's younger brother, Black Rain, a Ridley Scott film I feel has never received the credit it deserves. Viewing from the outside it looked like one of those 1980s cop movies, one where the main cop is washed up and perched on the edge of oblivion, his partner his sanity and voice of reason. However, Scott (brought in late to direct when Paul Verhoeven bailed) wasn't interested in the normalities of the cop drama, he saw the potential for cross continent culture clash and the chance to bring his visual skills to the fore. Yep, it's the big neon glitter of Osaka and the grime and dime of New York that is the big draw here, but characterisations are still rich for the drama, with Scott taking plenty of time to set up the lead protagonist. We know Conklin's troubles, we know how tight his friendship is with Charlie, and by the time things go grim and dour in Osaka we understand just why Conklin plunges head first into a do or die situation. Visually Scott infuses the picture with cramped locales, steamy streets, industrial wastelands and blood red suns, while his lead character is an unshaven trench coat wearer who still manages to look devilishly cool. It's perhaps the drawing of Osaka that is the most impressive, for it's an alien creation to us as much as it obviously is to Conklin, the ignorance gap between America and Japan still wide apart in 1989. Complaints? At just over two hours in running time the film does have periods of flatness, where some better editing wouldn't have gone amiss; though Scott's original cut was considerably longer, begging the question on if more could have been done to enhance the seething culture clash between cops Conklin and Matsumoto (Takakura)? Another problem is that Capshaw's character is under written, a crime when it's the sole female part of note in a two hour movie. Did more of the character hit the cutting room floor? Likely, because now it's a token eye candy offering, which is a shame since what little we do get hints at a savvy performance from Capshaw. Ridley Scott lifts Black Rain from merely being a fish out of water thriller to something more layered. True to say there is more style than substance (what style though), but there is still very much interesting juxtapositioning of countries and human interactions of credible worth as well. 8/10
The fact that the words "produced in association with Michael Douglas" appear on the credits before the name of the director (Ridley Scott) tells us much of what we need to know about this crime thriller. It is a project for and about Michael Douglas and it isn't very good. He ("Conklin") is a New York cop, and a bent one at that. Together with his oppo "Charlie" (Andy Garcia) he witnesses a Yakuza killing in a restaurant. Apprehending the culprit, they are tasked with repatriating him to Japan but manage to cock up the prisoner delivery when the plane lands. Determined to track down his miscreant escapee, he now proceeds to treat the local law enforcement with an arrogant disdain that ought to have found him neatly at the end of a Samurai sword. Of course, though, he is the hero - so the plot gradually swivels the characterisations round so he starts to look the decent, intuitive police officer whom the incompetent, hapless, Tokyo officers have needed all along. Luckily, Garcia gets to take an early bath which leaves us with a very weak supporting cast, a few scenes from a completely unnecessary Kate Capshaw ("Joyce") before an ending that made this legendary and lethal criminal fraternity look little more dangerous that a Californian fraternity house. Someone clearly decided that the dark and dingy look was in; the lighting is on half power for much of this, and what action scenes there are merely serve to further augment the star's "hard man" image but do little to add any depth to this really average story. Hans Zimmer's lacklustre score also seems to have come straight out of an episode of "Miami Vice", too. This is just poor, derivative and instantly forgettable.
Well made neo-noir thriller featuring great performances by Douglas, Garcia and Takakura with special mention to Yûsaku Matsuda who worked on this despite dying with bladder cancer (and he was only 40 years old). Not top shelf work compared to other Ridley Scott movies but it is shot well (courtesy also to DP Jan de Bont). **4.0/5**