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Black Rain

Black Rain (1989)

September. 22,1989
| Drama Action Thriller

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.


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When a member of the Japanese Yakuza is arrested in New York, detectives Nick Conklin and Charlie Vincent are assigned to escort him to Japan. Conklin is none too pleased that they are not prosecuting the prisoner themselves. They no sooner arrive in Japan when they are duped and turn their prisoner over to gangsters posing as police. They stay on in Japan hoping to work with their Japanese counterparts but have some difficulty dealing with local protocol and customs. Over time, Conklin develops a working relationship with Detective Masahiro and together they work together to ensure justice is served.....Black Rain is one of those films where it's a case of all style and no substance. Back in the late eighties,this must have sounded like a sure bet. Michael Douglas sitting on a bike in aviators was the one sheet, and why not? He was one of the biggest stars of the decade.So that's what we get, one of the biggest stars of the eighties riding a bike fast at the beginning of the film, brooding, running, brooding, running, arguing, brooding for the middle of the film. And the riding a bike really fast toward the end.Oh and a sub plot involving probably the most non threatening members of the Yakuza ever portrayed in cinema. Seriously, this guy comes straight out of a Schumacher Batman movie.But it looks good, Douglas has a fabulous haircut, and the shoot out at the end is pretty brutal.Plus, it's the greatest film ever to feature Michael Douglas looking slightly perturbed when his back is rubbed against a motorbike wheel.


Okay, so I'm particular about things in some movies while not in others, but what really has to do it for me at the end of the day is the forces that move the cinematic world. These can be all sorts, a set of values that a protagonist embodies, or abstraction about how we see; long story short, the world has to be held together in some way that I find interesting.This lets me like Lethal Weapon and Die Hard even though the worldviews at play are different. Duellists, Alien and Bladerunner, and even Thelma and Louise to an extent, they all come with structured experience about how their worlds move.I leave without anything here. The protagonist is a blowhard full of ego and noisy energy, constantly griping and thumping people, as unlikable a presence as Douglas was in Falling Down. The way we see is cowboy bluster without any other awareness of how the world moves. It tries to transfer to the Japanese, cops and yakuza, some of that awareness that eludes him, duty in the abstract, all sophomoric on that end and fails to really know Japan except as scented orientalist postcard.So what's the use if Osaka is marvelous, neon-streets and gleaming cityscapes seen from above? The relation of the cinematic eye to this world is random, incidental. It's one operatic backdrop wheeled in after another for a cop story where we chase after bad guys. Compare for example with Kar Wai where the neon city is ink from a lover's poem that melts to become breath, or how Assayas in Demonlover makes it tear from the woman's mind. This is like Cimino in Dragon, the notion that you'll write "big" if you hold a very big pen or write in a big room.Something else I'd like to note is that this isn't noir as mentioned a lot of the time, I don't believe it is, and it speaks to the existing confusion about what modern noir really is. It seems every other crime film has been lumped as neo noir at one point or other so long as the world is gloomy, or there's a case to be solved. The closest call of this to noir so far as I see is that it takes place in the big city at night. Noir, next to the other tropes, for me is to be found in a certain relation between a narrator and the world. We get action dynamics here.One interesting thing here is that he wouldn't have been sucked into this story, he would have simply boarded the next flight home, had he not been tricked to release the prisoner in the wrong hands.


I first saw Black Rain on its initial release, sitting on the front row of the enormous screen of the Odeon Leicester Square London. It was very exciting then and after seeing it once again for the first time in over 25 years, it is still immensely enjoyable.Like many other reviewers, I am mystified by how underrated it is. In its day it was a blockbuster with a big reputation. The basic storyline is gripping with many interesting plot twists. The contrasts between American and Japanese culture are deftly handled and worked into the plot well. Of course it's shot in a moody, stylistic way, but it is of course a moody cop film noir thriller. I think the cinematography is superb, with one aerial shot in particular, of an impressionist sunrise over the industrial hinterland of Tokyo, absolutely breathtaking.Cast-wise, it's a strong showing as Kate Capshaw smoulders (even if we see her all too briefly), Andy Garcia is boyishly charming, and Ken Takakura is great as the perplexed Japanese detective, but Michael Douglas is immense and steals the show. Rarely has barely-controlled rage been portrayed so effectively and his performance stands up against all the cop portrayals in cinema history (and I am aware that is a big statement).In short, watch it - you won't be disappointed!


Some may think that this is just another cop action movie but nothing could be father from the truth.It is a story of good,evil,love,friendship and deep loyalty.A clash of two different culture creates a unbreakable bond between them.The music that was made specifically for this movie is what makes a part of the greatness of this movie.The rest is just great acting.I watched this movie a very long time ago(like 20 something years ago)but i never forgot it and the feeling i had when i watched it.This movie contains all what makes a human being and the essence of life.