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This movie is not always easy to understand but if you give it a couple
of looks, which it is worthy of doing, all the pieces finally fit and
it's a good two hours of entertainment.
This modern-day crime movie may have a lack of action compared to others of its genre but it never loses your attention. Sean Connery, Wesley Snipes and Harvey Keitel star, along with Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Kevin Anderson, Mako and Tia Carrere. This is a high-tech story (at least for 1993) as two cops try to figure out who murdered a woman. It's Japanese-big business-politics intrigue with surveillance cameras being the key to figuring out a murder.
Connery and Snipes complement each other as a "buddy" cop duo with Connery being mostly responsible for making this story interesting. The still-suave ex-James Bond plays the cool veteran and it's fun to watch him operate.
The only complaint I might have is the ending, a stupid romance-type story with Snipes and Carrere that was very post-climactic and not needed.
There is an old Japanese motto: "Business is war." Well, that sentence is taken to new heights in the Philip Kaufman thriller "Rising Sun," based on the best-selling novel by Michael Crichton.
Wesley Snipes plays Web Smith, a Japanese-American liaison officer in LA who is called on duty after a young woman is found dead at the opening party for the new Japanese company named Nakamoto. Sean Connery plays John Connor, a retired liaison officer who is an expert on Japanese customs and culture. He is requested to come on call as well, and does, trailing along with Web.
When they get to Nakamoto, they find Tom Graham (Harvey Keitel) and other cops hovering over the body of the dead woman. Soon, foul play is suspected, and Smith and Connor must find the killer before it is too late.
"Rising Sun" is taken from a great novel, and turned into an average thriller. There is nothing spectacular about the film. It stays surprisingly true to the book, but the very few things that stray from the course of the novel turn out to be the blunders.
There are no sparks flying between Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes. I think that Snipes was a bad casting decision. Connery is perfect for the character of John Connor, but Snipes just doesn't fit Peter Smith - whose name was changed to Web Smith for the film, for no apparent reason other than Peter isn't a suiting name for Snipes.
The director/screenplay writer of "Rising Sun" - Philip Kaufman, who brought us "The Right Stuff" - seems to have charisma and obviously tries to keep the film true to the book. Unfortunately, however, there is an element of suspense missing from the film. There are no real surprises. In the novel, Connery's character John Connor seems to know everything that is going to happen, but there is still a sense of suspense. In the film, however, Connery's Connor seems to know TOO much about everything that is going to happen. Instead of being one step ahead like he was in the book, he seems to be twenty steps ahead in the film. There is one scene that really jumped out at me where Connor walks in and says, upon discovering a man believed to be dead, "Oh, I was wondering when he'd get here!" In the novel, Connor gives a reason why he knew the man wasn't dead. In the film, he just seems to know the man is still alive for no apparent reason. If Connor knows everything that is happening, everything that has happened, and everything that is going to happen, why keep Web - and us - in the dark?
At least Connery fit the character of Connor - it would have been about ten times worse if they had chosen someone else.
Believe it or not, the film might have been better if it had NOT been so close to the book. What I mean by this, is that by making everything just like the book, Kaufman raises the expectations a notch, and when ONE SINGLE THING is changed from the book, the audience is disappointed, because by then we have come to expect everything in the movie to be like the book. Expectations wouldn't have been so high if he had made everything different from the book. Which is NOT to say I don't enjoy that he stayed true to the book.
It's a confusing opinion. In some ways, I enjoy how true to the novel the film was. But there is just something missing. Even though the cast is top notch for the most part, Snipes just didn't fit. And while Connery was perfect as Connor, he seemed to know too much about what is going on. There is no real suspense. Perhaps that is the biggest flaw of the film.
A great book turned into an average thriller worth seeing once.
3/5 stars -
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I like this movie for its simple, yet intricate plot and interesting
peek into the Japanese culture, customs, and traditions. Rising Sun has
its strengths in the technological sector using mini-CD's in their
security cameras, something that rare...even in 2005; unheard of in
1993. Very interesting. This Michael Chricton venture has the right mix
of corporate warfare and abrasive politics in each of the characters
from the racist pig and "Ugly American" extrordinaire Tom Graham to the
mysterious techno-whiz played by Tia Carrare.
But what I don't understand is how Sean Connery's character becomes such an aficionado of the Japanese culture? The explanation is very weak especially when it concerns his relationship with Eddie Sakomura. Snipes adds some bite and boldness to the mix but he plays into that "not so bright sidekick" stereotype that many African-Americans fall into. It would've been more interesting if the roles were reversed.
The ending is one of the most compelling scenes of the entire film...yes this would be considered a FILM not a MOVIE. It shows the bond of the conspirators falling apart piece by piece. First, the senator's sexual escapade is revealed to his co-workers and his wife via fax machine. Then he interrupts an important meeting at Nakamoto headquarters by calling his co-patriot, thus revealing that Ishihara had something to do with this murder. Lastly, the killer is unmasked and flees capture only to be cornered by Eddie's allies and thrown into a vat of wet concrete to his doom. I'll admit it its a frightening way to die but the killer/ sleaze ball lawyer deserves it. But must they change this ending at the last minute to replace Ishihara with Richmond(the killer)? I thought movies were supposed to be art wrought with controversy.
During a high level executive meeting between a Japanese corporation
and an US weapons contractor a young woman is found murdered. Due to
his connections Captain John Connor is sent to lead the investigation
with Lt Web Smith. The investigation is immediately hindered by the
Japanese culture, the shadowy business figures and political pressures,
however before long Connor and Smith are presented with a cctv disk
that shows the murder being carried out by a known suspect. When the
suspect dies in a chase the investigation seems over but a closer
investigation of the evidence shows that the case is far from closed.
Not being a real big fan of Michael Crichton, I wasn't sure how I'd like this film I'm not a big traveler and don't buy my books in the airport when I do travel! It was apt then, that I wasn't overly taken by the plot here and felt that its pace was more responsible for it being an enjoyable thriller than any great skill in the writing. In its essence the glossy story takes in technology, big business, Japanese cool and political goings-on all these and other things combining to mean that it moves well and is consistently busy. This is not to suggest that it all fits together because it doesn't; the plot has holes and lose strands within it that distract if you think too much about it happily its pace and revelations did not give me too long to linger over these and I managed to enjoy it, the problems being forgotten in all the gloss.
On top of this gloss is piled a cast that is worth seeing no matter what they are doing together, and their presence and ability further cover for a plot that doesn't always serve its many characters as well as they deserve. Connery has fun in the sort of role he seems to greatly favour now distinguished, wise men of age who can still dish it out if need be. He is easy to watch and only at times does he feel like he's forcing it (like when he suddenly shouts). Snipes does not look as confident but that may be because his 'look' has dated here and changed since 1993. However he is still good and has his moments despite being given a rather secondary role to Connery's. It the support cast that surprised me though so many well known faces in supporting or minor roles. Keitel is very good, playing an interesting character that goes nowhere but is still interesting and well delivered; Tagawa is gifted a fuller role than he often gets and does well with it. Wise is OK but he forces it and didn't convince me as much as I would have liked still did the job asked of him though. People like Mako, Carrere, von Bargen and Buscemi all add depth and make the film feel fuller than it is even with some small (and perhaps unnecessary?) characters.
Overall this is a slick and enjoyable film even if it is as much style and pace as it is substance. The plot doesn't totally fit together but its mix of techno-conspiracy, political plotting, sex and intrigue all keep it moving along enjoyably enough and the impressive and rather charismatic cast only help to make it feel all the slicker. Worth a watch even if some may find it a little inconsequential in regards some bits of plotting.
The background of the film is the American-Japonese business
competition in L.A. where a cop (Wesley Snipes) accused by corruption
teams up with old man (Sean Connery) , expert on Japanese world .
They're investigating a killing case filmed in videotape recording and
located at an important corporation run by powerful manager (Mako)and
it implicates a senator (Ray Wise) . The homicide is committed on a
boardroom table while a beautiful prostitute is strangled when having
sex with her lover , being prime suspect a Japanese executive (Gary
-Hiroyuki Tagawa). The identity of the murderer is taken by a security
camera on a missing disk . Meantime , another tough police( Harvey
Keitel) is also investigating and they're helped by a gorgeous video
expert (Tia Carrere). Soon discover on the final breaking point that
even the truth can lie .
The tale mingles suspense , thriller , mystery , quick action , buddy movie and is quite entertaining . However , the complicated script contains some flaws and gaps , originating fails on credibility but gets its nice moments here and there . Based on controversial novel by Michael Crichton , it is adapted by Philip Kaufman and Crichton, blending business, Japanese customs, high technology and international politics, turning out some confusing and silly . For that reason, the screenplay was rewritten several times, focusing more the killing suspense and relying heavily on relationship between two leads and the differences US-Japan . Michael Crichton, author of the book and co-author of the screenplay, wrote the part of Connor with Sean Connery in mind. Writers Michael Crichton and Michael Backes quit the project largely over disagreement with director Philip Kaufman that one of the lead characters should be changed into an African-American . Evocative Japanese music score by Takemitsu (Kurosawa's usual musician) and appropriate cinematography with stylized camera techniques by Michael Chapman . This one gets acceptable direction by Philip Kaufman (Quills, Right stuff, Body snatchers) . The film will appeal to Wesley Snipes and Sean Connery fans.
Scenes of cowboys on horseback, and Cole Porter's "Don't Fence Me In"... reassuring cultural markers which quickly dissolve as we find ourselves
in the steely 19990's in a Los Angeles that has been snaffled by the
Japanese. The western and the music are mere karaoke images. Americans had
better learn how to bow, because their masters are moving
"Rising Sun" is a sophisticated thriller which flips neatly between fear of the sinister Japanese (electronic surveillance, big business buyouts, Yakuza) and a deep understanding of, and reverence for, Japanese culture. Wesley Snipes plays Web Smith, a lieutenant in the LAPD assigned to investigate a murder on the Los Angeles premises of a Japanese corporation. He has Captain John Connor attached to him (Sean Connery), an older man who is believed to have 'gone native' and sold his soul to the Japanese.
At every turn, American short-sightedness is losing out to the Japanese hardball players. One of the film's morals is, if we don't like the way they are buying up our assets, we have no business selling them in the first place. Japanese strength comes from the social discipline and immense intellectual vigour of their way of life. "We may come from a fragmented MTV-rap-video culture," says Conner, "but they do not."
Conner has studied the eastern way and is respected by the Japanese for his grace and learning. He guides Web Smith along the path of enlightenment in the course of solving the murder mystery. They adopt the traditional sampai-kohai relationship, the tutelage of a wise elder from which a worthy young man learns.
In this story of cutting-edge video fakery, the film exploits images intelligently. We see reflections of Web and Jingo on the TV monitor as they analyse the 'ghost'. Connor effects a clever 'look-back' on the lab's video camera, hinting at hidden permutations in the characters' relationships. Time after time, we are led persuasively down a line of reasoning, only to find that it is a chimera. As Connor says, "When something looks too good to be true, then it's not true."
There are some weaknesses in the film's structure. 'The Weasel', the journalist tracking Web, is badly misconceived. His place in the story is negligible and his dramatic possibilities are abandoned almost as soon as he is introduced. The reliance of Web on his old 'brothers' to intimidate the Japanese pursuers is lame and patronising, with its 'boyz'n'the hood' silliness. To describe these 'rough neighbourhoods' as 'America's last great advantage' is patent hogwash. The corrupt senator is the tired stock-in-trade of these thrillers, and fails to convince. The reaction of Morton's wife to the fax transmissions is utterly unrealistic and melodramatic. That two LAPD cops should beat up half a dozen Japanese thugs using karate is frankly insulting, even to Japanese thugs.
The performance of Sean Connery is very impressive. He plays Connor with the clear intelligence and the confidence in his own powers which such a man would surely possess. He alone understands both cultures, and therefore he alone can solve the riddle. Because Connery is convincing, the film is a success.
Michael Crichton's Rising Sun is an extensive, dense, unpredictable
mess. The actors have a lot of fun and the story is a splurge of
entertainment, but it's not paying enough attention to a couple of
things. One of them is what its focus is. Is the film about the murder,
the two men solving the murder, the clash of American and Japanese
cultures, or what? The other thing the film forgets could be a drawback
of the first thing. It's that it doesn't tie up all its loose ends. At
the end, there are strands left with no ending, even a mysterious
ambiguous one. It just ends because it feels the pace of the film
requires it to fade out at that particular point.
The film is not bad, mostly because it's far from boring. In fact, there are many scenes of dialogue, despite a few corny scenes of dialogue, that are subtly interesting. We don't quite understand why the exchanges are interesting until later, when we realize that the characters are so deeply contemplated that the scene felt as real as the room you're sitting in. But maybe I'm giving the film too much credit for simply being a load of fun for Michael Crichton to write. After all, he wrote and directed one of the greatest heist films ever made, The Great Train Robbery, also with Sean Connery.
Sean Connery, of course, is the highlight of the film, because there's hardly a way he cannot be. Despite his irrepressible suavity, he does not play himself. He plays a resentful, inflexible, self-indulgent veteran cop, and we are supposed to like Wesley Snipes more because the film centers, well, seems to want to center around his character and also we're given more backstory and information on him. However, we don't like Snipes more than him. Connery may play a stubborn old jerk, but I'd rather one of those than a pompous, intolerant, overpround young jerk like Snipes can hardly help but play.
I cannot reach a verdict on this film. How can I? There are so many things to enjoy at the same time they are hazardous to the film's health.
A woman is strangled to death while having sex in a Japaneses'
corporation building. Lt. Webster Smith (Wesley Snipes) and Japan
expert Captain John Connor (Sean Connery) are assigned to solve it. All
the evidence points to her Japanese boyfriend but there's more to this
than meets the eye.
Michael Crichtons novel was a frightening and powerful story about how it seemed (at the time) that Japanese corporations were taking over everything. As an adaptation to that this is a joke. Smith is made black for no good reason, the anti-Japanese slant was toned down a lot, there was no romantic interest between Snipes and Tia Carrere as is shown in this movie and the identity of the killer was completely changed! It really destroyed the book. But, if you ignore the book, this is OK on its own terms.
It's well done and written and there's some good acting by Connery, Ray Wise (as a slimy senator), Harvey Keitel (as a cop) and Steve Buscemi (still not sure what he was). But the story is way too convoluted, goes on far too long and has an ending which is more than confusing. Also Connery and Snipes do not work well together. There's no spark between them--they seem to be acting in different movies. There's also plenty of pointless female nudity. This lessens what could have been a good strong movie. So it's an OK thriller. Worth catching if you're a Connery fan. The book is much better.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It is hard to pass up a Sean Connery movie, especially one with Wesley
Snipes. You can just see Lt. Smith (Snipes) learning from Captain
Conner (Connery) and taking those lessons to Washington in Murder at
Connery was exceptional in this thriller with multiple twists and turns, and Snipes did a great job as his student. Harvey Keitel added a great dimension as a racist dirty cop.
I was also glad to see Steve Buscemi in his usual slimy role. I hadn't seen Tia Carrere since True Lies and she play a super role her as a tech wiz. And, I always like seeing Mako.
Great thriller with great characters. Put this on your list to see.
Rising Sun is a textbook example of how to take a sure-fire, can't lose
property and cock it up completely. It's not just a matter of the
producers controversially changing the nationality of the killer that
makes Rising Sun such a appointment: where Michael Crichton's novel
weaved a multi-stranded web, turning issues into clues and bombarding
the reader with information and clues to keep you guessing, director
Philip Kaufman simplifies and makes it all patently predictable.
Subplots are poorly handled, often either never followed through or
simply forgotten, and you don't even care that much about who done it,
Of course, there is a difference between what makes a good book and what makes a good film, but before the rot set in Crichton didn't just write novels that read well, he wrote novels that play - turning one of his books into a film should be more a matter of editing than adapting. Yet, extraordinarily, the producers have either dropped or diluted everything that made the novel such a huge bestseller.
Crichton's strength was always his ability to put over big issue in a pulp format, but while Kaufman does tidy up his typically messy ending, hedrops most of the issues, patronisingly soft-pedalling the novel's economic/political debate, leaving just the pulp. It's rather like making The Third Man and ditching all that guff about cuckoo clocks and black marketeering, and getting rid of Orson for good measure. It may now be a gaijin who kills the girl, but it's Kaufman who kills the movie.
Kaufman has shown he can take mainstream material and imbue it with a greater significance and still turn out a terrific picture with Invasion of the Body Snatchers and The Right Stuff (and let's not forget, he was one of the creators of Indiana Jones), but perhaps he'd just spent too long making art movies in the interim. Here there's a snobbery to his direction, a contempt for his material that shines through in almost every frame - he thinks he's better than this, but still comes out looking like an amateur.
Where Crichton's novel was not the racist tract many claimed at the time (Crichton's criticism wass aimed directly at America's short-sighted business/political strategy), Kaufman's film comes perilously close to being just that. The xenophobia of the scene where Snipes sets some homeboys on the Japanese who are following him is an uncomfortable and tasteless exercise in ethnic stereotyping that doesn't belong in this movie.
The most astonishing lapse is in the appallingly acted and staged scene where Snipes is interrogated by his superiors. While this provides the novel with an effective framing device, only a complete idiot would include the American PR man for the Japanese corporation implicated in the conspiracy and a muckraking reporter among those present. Kaufman does. Not only is he hopeless at staging action, but scenes such as the suicide are handled with an ineptitude bordering on the infantile while some of the sexual overtones are feeble beyond belief - hey, don't forget that close-up of the next door neighbour's crotch so we know what Wesley's thinking, Phil! If anything, the absolute stinker of an epilogue is even worse, coming on like the warm wrap-up to a 70s cop show and spelling out Connery and Carrere's relationship just in case we're too thick to work it out for ourselves.
Much blame for this must attach itself to executive producer Sean Connery. Too many years of being denied his due as an actor and still, one suspects, trying to overcompensate for his years in Bondage have left him a sucker for a 'quality' director and a name writer, often with disastrous consequences (cf. A Good Man in Africa). Yet if Kaufman kills the movie, Connery gives it the kiss of life. Connery is never less than watchable, and he's certainly one of the few things worth watching here, whether barking Japanese in a Scottish accent or deliberately losing at golf. It's one of the best displays of pure star quality energising a moribund picture you're likely to see.
Wesley Snipes is wildly miscast in a role that didn't just have Andy Garcia's name on it but his address and a photo of his wife and kids as well. Instead we get a another of his typically one-note aggressiveone-size-fits all performances. Supporting performances are dubious at best, with Mako, Carey-Hiroyuki Tagawa and Stan Egi faring best, countered by Ray Wise and Kevin Anderson, both even phonier than their roles.
When Rising Sun concentrates on the plot mechanics, such as the manipulation of an incriminating recording of the murder, it's fine, but what should have been great is merely an average potboiler distinguished by Connery's presence. Rupert Murdoch, who took a strong personal interest in the picture, said that if they got it wrong they deserved a sound kick in the a**. If you happen to run into him, you might want to take him up on that.
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