"I usually get kissed before I get f**ked."
Veteran, highly commendated (but under investigation by the Internal Revenue Service for skimming drug money) NYC detective Michael Douglas collars a Yakuza gangster after he slits the throat of a Japanese mobster in an Italian restaurant and, along with partner Andy Garcia, must take the murderer back to Osaka, Japan thanks to the Japan Embassy's negotiations with the State Department. Once they arrive by plane to Osaka, Douglas and Garcia accidentally release their prisoner to his own Yakuza who are dressed as police and must remain in Japan, trying to track him down, but on his own turf this will not be easy. The cultural divide, the language barrier, two New York cops, forced to be classified civilians, without their guns, attempting to catch a killer, how in the world will they make it on foreign soil, out of their element?
The Yakuza killer is named Sato, quite a reputation as a dangerous individual waging war with an "Old time boss" named Sugai, with Douglas and Garcia embroiled in the middle as they continue to investigate even in Osaka, much to the chagrin of the Japanese police who want them to stay out of their business. Matsumoto ( a police detective who takes a lot of s**t from Douglas and doesn't deserve to be treated so harshly) is to work as a sort of console for Douglas and Garcia, while his superior Ohashi wants the Yank cops to "know their place".
80s urban noir, photographed by Jan De Bont (director of "Speed"), Osaka looks a lot like the futuristic city in Ridley Scott's other film, "Blade Runner"—what I found fascinating was how Osaka looks practically identical to the New York presented in "Black Rain", the traffic and congestion of heavily populated streets, steam and people, through De Bont's lens the city is dark even during the day. Douglas, wearing a trench coat and shades, looks a lot like Harrison Ford in "Blade Runner", has plenty of aggression, is hard-nosed and tough, and dogged in his pursuit of the man who got away. He's on the hunt and when he's motivated further by the murder of Garcia, there's nothing going to stop him from getting Sato, but he needs help navigating through a foreign terrain and that is where Mas comes into play. Sato is ambitious, wants to be a Yakuza boss, and have his own territory to run. Good part for Ken Takakura as Mas, an honorable cop who, to his credit, swallows a lot of Douglas' wise-ass remarks and tolerates his snarky attitude.
"Black Rain" has the fish-out-of-water theme along with the unlikely partnership angle: the film is as dead serious in tone as the lead character it follows. One thing about Douglas' character, he doesn't scare easy, the man has brass balls to actually confront a top Yakuza boss just so he can get closer to Sato, revenge firmly his only motivation it seems. Kate Capshaw is a high-price call girl in Osaka who provides Douglas with assistance, although she wishes he would just go home to America and leave her out of his feud with Sato (she's pretty smokin', too). Yûsaku Matsuda's Sato is a Yakuza hood right out of a Takashi Miike film, hotheaded, gutsy, sociopathic, and volatile, but not directionless as he seems to have a strategic plan for the more traditional Japanese mob bosses who want him out of the picture. Ultimately, what is desired by the Yakuza is engraving plates, one of which is in the possession of Sato, giving him an edge. Douglas is the wild card who stands in Sato's way. Garcia is a nice addition to the movie, a good cop who has the misfortune of being aligned with a partner who has stirred the nest, so to speak.
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