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. In Japan, however, he manages to escape. 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.Written by
Harald Mayr <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I grew up watching many crime action flicks. Heat, The Untouchables, The Lethal Weapons, Die Hard, you name it. Black Rain is among them. There are so many levels about this film that I love: the story, the acting, the action sequences, the cinematography, the music—to name a few.
The story is simple; Nick Conklin (Michael Douglas) is a New York cop who is under investigation by Internal Affairs for corruption. When eating lunch, Nick and his partner (Andy Garcia) witness a bloody double homicide. They catch the perpetrator, but because he is Japanese and a wanted criminal in Japan, he must be taken back to his home country for trial. Reluctantly, Nick and his partner take him home but lose him in their custody. They then team up with the Japanese law enforcement to catch the criminal.
The film really explores the different styles of cop work from New York and Japan. Nick is a hardass who breaks the rules to get the job done. In contrast, the Japanese law enforcement does everything by the book, which provides no help, particularly with the Japanese cop (named Masa) Nick and his partner are assigned to (played wonderfully by Ken Takakura). Not only do the two cops buttheads, but when the film's plot takes a dark turn, Nick and Masa learn to tolerant their differences and work together. As a result, both also learn some important lessons from each other.
Critics have always said that Michael Douglas's best role is his 1988 Oscar winner for Gordon Gekko in Wall Street. I beg to differ. Douglas as Nick Conklin is his best performance. Why? Unlike Gordon, Nick goes on a journey that ultimately changes his character. There is a strong sense of ambivalence in his character as he teams up with the Japanese law enforcement to catch the Yakuza boss. As mentioned above, Nick is a jerk at first, but as the film progresses, he learns some important lessons in Japan and likewise with the Japanese cop. This is what I love about Douglas's performance. He should have received a nomination for this film.
Andy Garcia is perfect as Nick's partner; he supplies the comic relief—fulfilling as the good cop. Ken Yakuza as Masa is another great addition to the film. I wish I had seen him in more movies. The actor who plays the villain (I can't remember his name) is perfect. He carries both the demeanor and facial expressions of a natural-born psycho. It is sad that he was dying of bladder cancer when he was filming this movie—he would have had quite a career. Another aspect worth noting is Jan De Bont's cinematography. He captures a very Blade Runner look: dim lighting; smoke filled rooms and streets, and skyscraper vistas. His work is truly breathtaking—capturing Tokyo at the rise of its peak in the late 1980s. Hans Zimmer's score is flawless. He incorporates oriental instruments to accommodate the Japanese atmosphere, as well as includes synthesis, brooding drums, and electric guitar to reflect the two Americans in Japan—a West meets East feeling, I love it!
People do not talk much about this film, perhaps because it has fallen under as just another crime action flick. Yes, there is plenty of action, including a big shootout at the end, following a sweet motorcycle chase, and a brutal hand-to-hand fight between the good guy and bad guy. However, there are so many levels to this film that I feel most people overlook. It has action, but there is more than it. Black Rain has it all: drama, some light humor, brilliant performances, an interesting plot, and a tour-de-force in the filmmaking aspects, specifically in direction, cinematography, and music.
My rating (obvious) **** out of ****
15 of 21 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this