Black Rain (1989) – Review

3 Stars

Stunning visuals, courtesy of all-star cinematographer Jan DeBont dominate this otherwise conventional police thriller set in Japan. The visual design is such a key element to the film that it may cause casual viewers to become lost in the style, putting details of plot and character in the background. Ridley Scott stylishly uses these visual hallmarks of his to cover the rough-patches in the screenplay by Craig Bolton and Warren Lewis.

Michael Douglas is Nick Conklin, a divorced New York City detective currently being investigated for taking money on a bust. Douglas enters the picture atop a motorcycle then races for pink slips with a street punk on the underside of the Brooklyn bridge. It made me think the role was probably written with someone like Tom Cruise in mind, I digress. Conklin and his suave partner Charlie Vincent (Andy Garcia) are assigned to escort a Yakuza wise guy to Osaka for trail.

Impersonators arrive at the Japanese airport and claim to be officers relieving Conklin of his prisoner. Now the hit man’s escaped, forcing the two N.Y. cops to purse the gangster through the Japanese cityscape. The pair are assigned an official lesion, Ichiro Matsumoto (Ken Takakura) a local cop with an enormous amount of pride. Matsumoto is quickly distressed by the renegade attitude of Conklin, causing friction between the two cops from East and West.

Black Rain is the first step towards the modern-day aesthetic employed by Ridley Scott. Flashy visual design, solid acting, a musical score by Hans Zimmer, and of course a main character that can be viewed as unsavory due to his corruption and violent tendencies. The film does suffer from over-length and at least one sub-plot too many. I still recommend the movie based on its surface qualities, those looking for anything more than 1980’s jingoism will be left cold.

Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Michael Douglas, Andy Garcia, Kate Caphsaw

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *