Critic Reviews



Based on 18 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
It's risky making an action picture that breaks its violent stride to emphasize the difficulties of living up to preconceived ideas of masculinity. But it's that risk that makes Black Rain distinctive. By refusing to beat its Eastern and Western protagonists into comic-book pulp, the movie pays them, and the audience, a rare compliment.
In Black Rain, director Ridley Scott and his team pump in so much pyrotechnic razzle-dazzle that the movie becomes a triumph of matter over mind. It's a blast of pure sensation, shallow but scintillating, like a great rock melody, superbly produced, where the music pumps you up even as the lyrics drag you down.
No matter how well dressed, the movie can’t escape the gravitational pull of formula. Without a convincing subtext, Black Rain is pretty dull fare indeed.
Black Rain is chock-full of moments, jazzy scenery and snazzy bits of dialogue, and stuffed with steroids. It's big, maybe too big for its shallow notions and commonplace structure. But it is also beautiful and terrible in the same ways that other Scott movies have been eye-filling. With its teeming Asian landscape, its dark kaleidoscopic palette and its heavily layered composition, it's reminiscent of Blade Runner. But this is an atmosphere that needs Sam Spade, not Dirty Harry.
The story of Black Rain is thin and prefabricated and doesn't stand up to much scrutiny, so Scott distracts us with overwrought visuals.
At its best, Black Rain has the glitzy quality of an extremely long and clever television commercial. One can't be sure what is being sold, but the eye isn't bored.
Director Ridley Scott's visual gifts are still evident in Black Rain. But with retread plot and characters, Scott's stylistic flourishes become irritating clutter.
Ridley Scott directed this 1989 feature, and while there's a lot of his characteristic atmospherics—smoke, fog, neon, yellow light, rain, and squalor—to fill all the dead spaces, he's still a long way from the splendors of Blade Runner. The script by Craig Bolotin and Warren Lewis doesn't give him or Douglas very much to chew on, apart from a lot of unpleasant xenophobia about Japanese gangsters, and the plot never gets far beyond the formulaic and the forgettable, hammered into place by Hans Zimmer's pounding and numbing score.
Boston Globe
Visually, the film is at its most interesting when Scott's camera rises over Osaka and photographs it in ways that make it look like a modular electrified Lego city with neon and plexiglass trim. We get the feeling that in Osaka we're staring the near future in the face. But if Scott has gone to Osaka in search of a new Blade Runner, he comes up with nothing more than an Asian French Connection II. Many exchanges play like truncated pieces of scenes that originally existed more fully. And the film's frequent nocturnal motorcycle revvings don't have the panache of The Warriors, much less The Wild One. [22 Sep 1989, p.31]
The crosscultural action picture might have worked if the filmmakers had come up with a script in which Douglas' character had been rendered weak and confused by being a fish trying to swim in strange waters. But instead he is presented as a traditional action hero dominating everyone in sight. The cultural imperialism of that decision makes for a routine and frequently offensive story full of Asian stereotypes. Director Scott (Blade Runner, Alien) certainly knows how to photograph arresting architecture, but the high-gloss look of Black Rain only intensifies the shortcomings of the pedestrian story.

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