A young and impatient stockbroker is willing to do anything to get to the top, including trading on illegal inside information taken through a ruthless and greedy corporate raider who takes the youth under his wing.
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>
Average shot length and median shot length is ~3.5 seconds. See more »
The paper signed on the airplane in Japanese is a real estate agreement. When they meet at the police station they are told they signed an insurance form. This however could be explained by the Japanese police captain's mixing up the English terms "real estate" and "insurance". See more »
If you have ever visited a US military base in Europe, the one thing that will have impressed you is the way in which Americans overseas build 'little America' around themselves. They seem unwilling to engage with the society in which they find themselves, sticking instead to familiar food, drinks and pastimes. "Black Rain" is another manifestation of the same phenomenon.
In the late 1980's, two American cops travel to Tokyo to hand over a Yakuza killer into the custody of the Japanese authorities. Things go wrong, and so the Americans remain in Tokyo, determined to ensure that justice is done.
At the heart of this film is a deep American mistrust of foreigners. Only the New York cops are capable: if the Yakuza is to be fought, it's the Americans who will have to do it. Chopsticks are fiendish alien implements, and a regular guy like Michael Douglas won't learn how to use them. This refusal to meet the host culture on its own terms permeates the whole film. Not only do cliches of Japanese life proliferate: they are offered up for the (American) audience to snigger at. If there's a bar, there has to be a karaoke performance, with a Japanese singer giving a 'flied lice' rendition of an American song. Of course, when Charlie of the NYPD takes the stage, he rocks the joint - he's showing Japan what popular music is all about.
Concentrating as it does on banal examples of Japanese culture (for example, the removal of shoes on entering a home), the film profoundly misunderstands the Japanese mindset. We meet Sugai, the mighty oyebun ('godfather', to use the clumsy American parallel). He not only sits and chats with Nick (Michael Douglas's character) but discusses with him the behaviour of another Yakuza member, and even follows Nick's instructions concerning a forthcoming ambush. This is lunacy. In the real world, a man such as Sugai would disdain even to NOTICE a lowly American cop. Mas is dishonoured by his association with the New Yorkers. It is inconceivable that he would so much as mention his disgrace in Nick's presence, let alone undertake the course of action shown in the film.
The two Americans (and especially Nick) are offered to us as heroic figures, because they defy authority. They use unorthodox policing methods, including the physical abuse of prisoners and the destruction of evidence. By contrast, the film represents the Japanese police as rather 'square' because they follow procedures. This glorying in lax professional ethics is, quite frankly, insulting to the Japanese. Their cultural values embrace concepts such as correctness and scrupulous honesty, civilised virtues which this film sees fit to scoff at.
Apart from being a coarse affront to the Japanese whose hospitality the project enjoyed, "Black Rain" is simply a bad movie. The thing that happens to the police officer in the shopping mall would constitute a full-blown international incident in real life, but here it is lamely treated as a mere street crime. Charlie performs "What Did I Say?" flawlessy to perfect accompaniment, even though he and his Japanese backing-group have never met before and cannot communicate. The idea of Joyce, the high-class escort girl, having to walk home alone in the early hours through downtown Tokyo is utterly ridiculous. Even more preposterously than that, the Americans bluff their way onto a dangerous police raid, and are allowed into close unsupervised contact with arrested Yakuza members. Nick is able to move around the steelworks unchallenged, as if the intrusion of unauthorised westerners was a daily occurrence. Motor bikes and cars explode for no discernible reason, and Nick is able to escape from an airliner by simply climbing into a food cabinet. Though he is a stranger to Tokyo and cannot read Japanese characters, he has no trouble making his way to Mas's apartment in the suburbs.
All these things are sloppy and improbable, but they are as nothing in comparison with the preposterous goings-on at the film's climax. An American policeman runs around the Japanese countryside, weilding a pump-action shotgun. The Yakuza has entrusted its problem-solving to the lone foreigner. Professional gangsters with Uzis and martial arts know-how are brushed aside. A man is arrested without authority or legitimacy. The restoration of the shamed man is ludicrous, showing total ignorance of Confucian notions of disgrace.
Director Ridley Scott will always be associated with the 'Alien' films, and if he sought by the making of "Black Rain" to break that connection, he failed. With its coloured lights, spark showers, gouts of steam and cruets of molten metal, Tokyo is just another beleaguered spacecraft floating in nothingness. Nick is a masculine Ripley, pursued by The Unknown along the sinister passages of the labyrinth which is Spaceship Tokyo.
Nick is an oaf and a crook, and Joyce is a carelessly tacked-on token love interest. The 'black rain' of the title is a past horror, inflicted on the Japanese by the Americans. Plus ca change ...
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