on December 27, 2003
I'm not sure why this movie is described as a 'guilty pleasure'. I don't feel at all bad about liking it. And I do like it, a lot.
For one thing, I like Michael Douglas. I liked him thirty years ago in _The Streets of San Francisco_, I liked him even better after he turned _One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest_ from a great book and a great stage play into a great motion picture, and I've kept right on liking him every time he's gotten himself cast in a stylish, well-scripted film.
And this _is_ a stylish, well-scripted film. It's every bit as dark as you expect from Ridley Scott, and although there's a fairly well-defined villain, the 'heroes' are morally ambiguous. I like that in a movie.
The reviewers who say Michael Douglas's character Nick Conklin is an 'ugly American' are right, but they seem to have missed the fact that this is part of the point. This film is a fairly ambitious, though not terribly deep, attempt to bring off an East-meets-West theme in what looks superficially like just another buddy-cop movie. The 'black rain' of the title is one of the aftereffects of the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and it's the symbolic stand-in for the Western 'decadence' bemoaned by the more traditional Nipponese (even the crime bosses).
But that doesn't mean Japan wins the dramatic argument. On the contrary, the Nipponese cop (played with endearing self-effacement by Ken Takakura) learns a few things from his new cowboy friend 'Nick-san' too. (And the karaoke scene with Takakura and Andy Garcia is priceless.)
Kate Capshaw doesn't really need an excuse to appear in a film, and that's good, because here she doesn't really have one. She's an expatriate American who inexplicably keeps turning up at the center of the action. She gives the film a bit of _Casablanca_-like flavor, but it's more a matter of mood than anything else.
I won't tell you anything about the plot except that it involves the Japanese underworld and that it zips along at a fast clip. Don't look away or you'll miss something.
The whole thing is rendered most atmospherically, with the sort of dark and brooding edge that I like in a film (and at which Ridley Scott excels). In general I'm not the biggest fan of Hans Zimmer's scores, but for the most part he's used pretty effectively here.
This is a first-rate action-adventure thriller, and I don't feel the slightest bit 'guilty' for taking a very great deal of pleasure in it.
on April 18, 2006
I really enjoyed this when I watched it back at the cinema in 1989.Last year I found out that it was available on dvd and made the purchase without prior knowledge of the picture quality.The film still impresses me but I am very much disappointed with the picture quality,which is grainy and has fading color. It's a pity Paramount has overlooked this film.I am looking forward to seeing a SPECIAL COLLECTOR'S EDITION release which includes:an anamorphic widescreen transfer,a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX sound,English subtitle(the current one doesn't even have this standard feature!),audio commentary with Ridley Scott and/or Michael Douglas,interviews,or other featurettes of the film. What do you say PARAMOUNT ?
on July 17, 2011
I've been a fan of Black Rain since I first saw it on HBO, decades ago. Its been a go-to movie for me since then, on VHS, cable, DVD, Special Edition DVD...seen em all. You dissect a film like Black Rain, and the individual parts may not make you think "classic", but to look on it as a whole, it has "something", an intangible vibe that captures an embellished world you want to revisit. Michael Douglas' acting is outstanding even if he is unlikable, and Andy Garcia mumbles through his lines with a sincerity that foreshadows his amazing career. Supporting cast is mostly strong, Hans Zimmer hits it OUT OF THE PARK soundtrack wise (this score has been used and reused several times in random movie trailers and the like, which exemplifies its longevity), and Ridley Scott directs the smoky, high contrast worlds of New York and Japan. Again, I cant quite put my finger on what makes it such a great film, but its there, and maybe you had to be there, growing up with the movie all these years. I'd be interested to hear what a first time reviewer would think about the movie juxtaposed to modern action/dramas.
Several have bashed the Blu-ray treatment, and I'm not saying I haven't seen better, but I've seen worse, and this is far from them. The picture, to me, is clear as I've seen it, and reflecting back on the many versions over the years, its the best I would imagine would could expect, from a shot-on-film movie from the 80s. Considering the source material, its pretty amazingly sharp, with details popping out that I hadn't noticed over the course of many, many viewings. The copter-pan as they fly into Japan, overlooking the hazy industrial setting looks vibrant saturated, and it never took on that life the 30+ times I had seen it before.
The DTS track is nice, although inconsistent - music booms and various action scenes pop out, but slower paced dialogue drops back a bit too much, level-wise. I watched it on a solid surround system, and it required some adjustment to either hear the voices or not get blown out of your seat by various sound effects. The Dolby 5.1 is fine overall, but has nowhere near the weight of the DTS track.
Parts of the movie hold up over the many years, and to say they don't make em like they used to would be accurate. The gritty earnestness of a movie like this is what made pre-CGI movies so special, and classics that, frankly, won't be produced again. Fantastic film, and great to own it on such a remarkable media.
on March 31, 2004
Before I review Black Rain, let me tell you that I agree with some of the previous reviewers that the picture quality of this DVD (its better on VHS) is totally unacceptable. When I first watched it, I had to check my cable connections to make sure they weren't at fault. What a let-down. Mr. Scott should be raising hell over this.
With that said, this is one of my favorite action movies. It portrays Detective Nick Conklin (Michael Douglas) as an outgoing, old-school cop who takes moral short-cuts to get the job done. His partner, a relatively new Detective (Andy Garcia) is along for the ride. They have a run-in with a Japanese mobster (Yakuza) named Sato. After arresting Sato for commiting two murders in a New York restaurant, the Detectives are ordered to escort him back to Japan to face charges there. They manage to let Sato escape as he arrives in Japan. A Japanese Detective (Ken Takarara) is assigned to help out the New York Detectives.
Douglas, Garcia and Takarara are excellenty cast in their respective roles. The screenplay is well written. I must say that the cinematography is really good. Japan, the once-conquered nation, is now an industrial powerhouse. But, like the U.S., it suffers from the ills of corruption and violence. Ridley Scott does a great job of showing the tension between the two cultures. The Japanese, "bound by duty and honor", and the Americans, loud and outspoken, are viewed as somewhat obnoxious by their counterparts. The musical score is incredible. Hans Zimmer really brings this movie to life with an array of Japanese and American-themed music that injects just the right amount of tension for the corresponding scene. Brilliantly done.
This movie is 5-Star material, but the DVD version is a huge disapointment. I would wait to see if a special edition DVD comes out (I can only hope) with the video quality this movie deserves.
on September 8, 2011
I already owned the previous 2 releases of this movie on DVD and was hopeing for better picture quality by purchasing the new BD version of this movie. Although the picture was not at all grainy in blueray, I must say that I was hopeing for a crisper picture. That said, the extras on this BD are great and for anyone who intends to watch this movie more than once again in the future, the Blu-ray version may be worth the price to you.
on October 22, 2014
I have never understood why this film received so little acclaim. I am not a thriller fan and quite frankly avoid suspence as I have enough in my own life. Not an adrenaline junkie!
But Black Rain totally engaged me from the very beginning with its truly magnificent musical editing to its truly magnificent cinematography. Music and visuals carefully edited to create a symphony of sensuality, a feast for the senses.
The story line was not tainted with useless extraneous love scenes, its power enhanced with fierce brilliant acting. It is a thriller. It is a brilliant film made more than the sum of its parts by its editing.
It is raw violent satisfying engaging!
And I, who run from thrillers, watched it three times in a row the same night!
on March 12, 2013
Black Rain follows Nick (Michael Douglas) and Charlie (Andy Garcia), who arrest a member of the Yakuza. They are ordered to escort him back to Japan, where he escapes. Nick and Charlie team up with the reluctant Osaka police and delve deep into the criminal underworld. Black Rain is an all-round magnificent film, with beautiful cinematography and a stunning score.
The story in this film is great; it follows a familiar story/character arc, but it's entertaining, nonetheless. It has action, drama, suspense, and it's occasionally funny- and it's all balanced very well. The story moves at a consistent pace and the storytelling is smooth; this combination manages to keep the audience interested and engaged. Michael Douglas' performance is great, as well as the rest of the cast. The cinematography in this film is amazing- it is a beautifully shot film, like much of Ridley Scott's filmography. The music in this film is outstanding, probably Hans Zimmer's most understated soundtrack. It's a film that can stand the test of time, it never felt outdated and can compete with the best of today, from a technical and story point of view.
I own the Blu-ray version of the film. The picture quality is great, and the audio quality is good. In terms of picture and audio quality, it's not the best upgrade ("Blade Runner" and "Taxi Driver" are examples of excellent upgrades) , but it's currently the best version of this film. The film is on a single disc, it has a few special features, including The Making Of, Commentary from Ridley Scott, and Previews.
Overall, Black Rain is a beautifully shot, stunningly scored, and masterfully told film. It's as enjoyable today as it was yesterday or will be tomorrow. I HIGHLY recommend a purchase. Although the Blu-ray isn't perfect, it's the version to own, whether you're upgrading or purchasing for the first time.
Black Rain has strong violence and blood.
'Black Rain' came out in 1989. It's shown a lot of legs (it was on HBO last weekend) for two reasons: first and foremost, it's a Ridley Scott film, nuff said; second, it is - as the amazon reviewer pointed out - a wonderfully guilty pleasure, featuring such delightful absurdities as Kate Capeshaw (Mrs. Steven Spielberg, for god's sake) crammed into some va-va-voom sequined outfit, and sportin' some seriously tousled Big 80s hair. And speaking of big hair, that's one excellent mullet being chaperoned around by Michael Douglas. It is, after all, 1989.
I'll put this film in the same category as Philip Kaufman's 'Rising Sun' - 1989 was the height (of absurdity, as it turns out) of the Japanese bubble economy, and Japan-focused films of this age spoke to the fear or at least latent concern about the Japanese economic model eventually besting the US model. So, in light of a dramatically different Japan circa 2005, 'Black Rain' looks a little over the top. But, hey, this is a movie, and this is Ridely Scott. You want subtlety? Look elsewhere.
The real star of the film (if you can look around Mr. Douglas' most excellent rants and rages) is regal Japanese star Ken Takakura as Detective Masahiro. His IMDB filmography lists 130 substantial roles in his prolific history and calls him "the Clint Eastwood of Japan," not faint praise in anyone's book. Mr. Takahura literally holds the film together, acting as the bridge between the Douglas/Garcia side of the film, and the Japanese side of the film. It's great work.
on February 17, 2016
I re-watch this movie periodically because it is so dang good. Michale Douglas is perfect as a good cop who slips once in awhile into doing things under pressure he shouldn't. Andy Garcia - fantastic as the partner with pzazz, good looks, and charm that won't quit - he has this nonchalant patter that is just right on and makes me laugh. The story line is incredibly good - guys going to Japan - having none of the language and the NY disdain for other cultures other than NY's own way of doing things. The character "Mas" is well acted. The sets and Tokyo setting are wonderful. If you can't tell by now - I love this movie! :-)
on April 14, 2013
the first time i ever saw this film i was only 12, yes 12 years old. for some reason i found myself completely drawn into the story line, characters, and everything to do with this film. almost 25 years later finally i decide to buy it and surprisingly it's available on Blu-ray. the video transfer looks absolutely incredible, especially the wide aerial shots of Japan. audio is standard English 5.1 Dolby Digital Ex & 6.1 DTS-ES, the latter sounding the best for obvious reasons. if you're a fan of the film and considering purchasing the Blu-ray version you won't be disappointed.