Black Rain (1989) Mullet Haired Moody NYC Cop Takes On Blade Runner Yakuza

This weeks nostalgic rental look back has a NYC cop taking on a Yakuza boss in Japan in the action film Black Rain (1989)

Tagline – A cop on the edge, a conspiracy on the rise, a killer on the loose.

Who’s our hero today?
He’s played The American President to Liberace. Got himself in the Marvel Universe as Hank Pym and got smoochy looking for treasure with Kathleen Turner. Here Michael Douglas plays a New York City cop.

Had I seen this one on VHS back in the day?
I rented this one a few years after it was released. Truth be told I’d not been the biggest Michael Douglas fan. Over the years I grew to like him. I have a soft spot for his funnier films rather than his serious roles! Saying that he was amazing in Coma (1978) and I liked The China Syndrome (1979) a lot.

Quick plot run down.
A New York City police officer is being investigated for possible bribes and taking criminal funds to help feed his financial problems. During this time he and his partner get caught smack in the middle of a Japanese and Italian gangster turf war. Soon these two cops are caught up in a fight. With the capture of one of the Japanese gangsters it soon transpires their prisoner is a drug lord and Yakuza boss. Assigned to transport him to Osaka, Japan on extradition. The prisoner transfer soon falls apart and the two cops find themselves caught up within the Japanese police system. As you can well imagine at least one of these hot headed American cops is gonna try and take on the whole of the Yakuza. Within the dark wet shadows, familiar looking scenes start to unfold. Well familiar for us I must add, not for our Mister Douglas.

Does the hero have a day job?
Michael Douglas is Nick Conklin. The usual maverick hard nosed NYC cop. He can give out good advice. “Sometimes you gotta forget your head and grab your balls!

What’s our heroes special skills?
I’m sure he can summons up rage with the power of his mullet. He’s pretty handy on a motorbike too.

Heroes weapon of choice?
His main service weapon is his Colt Python Snub Nose but will obtain a Smith & Wesson Model 66 sidearm as a passing gift.

Heroes drink of choice?
Ummmmm! Well you had better ask his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones?

Does hero have a sidekick?
We get two for the price on one. His main long time NYC cop partner is the fun loving Charlie Vincent (Andy Garcia). Touching down in Japan they are to be saddled with the serious, no facial expressions of local police detective Masahiro Matsumoto (Ken Takakura)

Hot girl? Damsel in distress or ass kicker?
American nightclub hostess, Joyce (Kate Capshaw) catches Nick’s eye. With a little tension and flirting he tries to see if she can assist with any information on the whereabouts of the Yakuza boss. With her line of work she sees many of the high class girls going about their work. I’m not sure if she was perceived to be a madame or not?

Who’s the main baddie?
After turning up at an Italian and Japanese get together Sato Koji (Yûsaku Matsuda) becomes both a gatecrasher and a party pooper.

Baddies special skills?
The usual psycho gangster stuff but place a sword wielding psychopath at the top of his skill set.

Psycho baddies rating out of ten? 8/10
He spontaneously lets rip, not blow offs but with brutal stabbing rage.

Heroes balls of steel and anger ratings out of ten? 8/10
Nick Conklin isn’t afraid to drop into action mode at any given time and loves to let loose with the wise cracks “You’re a real f-ing wacko pal!

Surely it features a training montage scene?
Boo no! It should be written in all contracts! Essential training montage needed to show our hero’s dedication to their craft and show their commitment to the cause.

Does it feature an impossible mission?
It might of been if not for two motorbikes having been magically placed with their keys in the engine.

Does the hero get a chance to show off their muscles?
No but his muscly mullet gets to float and sway in the wind.

Will I be needing to pause the video player? AKA are there any boobies?
How dare you even contemplate asking such a barbaric question in this day and age! Well I never…… (Looks side to side) “psst hey” (Whispers). “Hey shhh, there was nothing. I couldn’t believe it, not even a side boob or any cheeky meat! Shocking stuff I tell you!“.

Sex scene?
Really I don’t need to tell you twice do I? These questions are completely irrelevant and unwarranted for this humble little film blog…….. (Whilst slowly sobbing) “They even go to a high class nightclub brothel!!

Any good totally random surprise scenes?
Well the most random thing is brought up in my closing thoughts section at the end! So if I had to go for something else for now? Oooo a toss up of either Andy Garcia pretending to matador bullfight with his coat in dodgy places, Michael Douglas outrunning a Transformer looking truck or Ken Takakura’s really awkward karaoke singing scene.

Films body count? Low/Medium/High
The high end of medium. Maybe it should be the low end of high? Who invented this silly body count meter? “Anyone?

Explosion ratio? Low/Medium/High?
Not too crazy. A good collection of pyrotechnics but then Ridley probably saved back the big bucks fireworks for Black Hawk Down (2001)

Best Lines

Nick Conklin –Look, you wanna charge me, you charge me, okay? You wanna jerk off, you go back to your office.

Nick Conklin –I usually get kissed before I get fucked.

Any other familiar faces and actors pop up?

  • I don’t wanna say it but I have to really. Kate Capshaw is best known as the most annoying female character from the Indiana Jones series of films. She played Willie Scott in The Temple Of Doom (1984). Saying that though I still like the film and she not that bad to be honest? I’d be screamy and annoying if Mola Ram was trying to rip my heart out with his bare hands. “Surely you gonna wash your hands for 20 seconds whilst singing happy birthday?
  • Ken Takakura is a powerhouse of Japanese film. I just read him quoted as the “Clint Eastwood” of Japan. I haven’t seen many of films. Please feel free to recommend some as I recommend a brilliant one I have watched and reviewed here The Yakuza (1974) where he stars alongside Robert Mitchum.
  • Everyone’s favourite go-to Latino, Puerto Rican, Luis Guzman has a blink and you’ll miss him role at the beginning illegal bike race.

A few production notes

  • Black Rain is directed by Ridley Scott, the man from South Shields, County Durham. He needs no introduction does he? But as you can imagine he’s a legend to me just for two films. And it will be no surprise to what those two are. Of course Alien (1979) and Blade Runner (1982) His other stuff ain’t too shabby either!
  • Was good to see composer Hans Zimmer go up on the beginning credits. I like a lot of his work, esp his newer stuff. Interestingly Zimmer would work with Scott on many more films but Black Rain is their first collaboration together.
  • It was really sad to read that Yūsaku Matsuda who plays the villain Sato was suffering from bladder cancer through the filming schedule but he toughly battled his way through to the end. Very sadly he would die shortly after the film’s completion. In a nice touch, Black Rain is dedicated to his memory.

Cheese-O-Meter! Low/Medium/High?
The cheesy opening credit song (Livin’ On The Edge Of The Night by Iggy Pop) as Michael Douglas rides his motorbike is pretty warm squidgy camembert if I’m honest.

IMDB score rating – 6.7/10

Wolfman ACTION & FUN rating – 7.5/10

Wolfman over all film rating – 6.5/10

Closing thoughts………………………………………….
BLADE RUNNER! I know right I had it in the title and never said anything about it. Well you’ve come to the right place. My closing thoughts and probably the most random thing I noticed, which I must add I hadn’t realised back in the early 90s. Black Rain almost plays out like a less good Blade Runner. Well I thought many scenes featured the uncanny moods and look of that future Los Angeles science fiction classic. The aesthetics of Ridley Scott’s uber-cool Blade Runner rear up in many a scene throughout the film. Of course the main would be the Asian culture especially with noodle bars etc. However that would just be the fact that they are in Japan but it’s the cinematography that merges the darkness, the rain, the shadows and on the whole, the neon signs reflected in the Black Rain puddles in the streets. However there’s more than that. Like Joyce with echo’s of Rachael (Sean Young) in her scenes. The way she is framed in shots, sitting and smoking. The apartment room layouts, the blinds with light behind and certain landscape cinematic shots all ooze iconic Blade Runner.

On the whole I remembered liking it much more than I did on this second viewing after all these years. My main issue being I didn’t get much connection between Ken Takakura and Michael Douglas’s characters. Plus Kate Capshaw part didn’t really feel that necessary if I’m honest. All the elements are there for an excellent film however in my eyes it just didn’t grab me. Feel free to tell me “Anata wa itsumo no yō ni mattaku nansensuna hanashi o shite imasu” *

Let me know your thoughts on the film if you want. But most importantly have fun with the movies.

Keep it filmy…. Mikey Wolf

*”You are talking total nonsense as usual Mikey

12 thoughts on “Black Rain (1989) Mullet Haired Moody NYC Cop Takes On Blade Runner Yakuza

  1. Saw it at the theater when I coming around to admitting that Michael did indeed have a bit of Kirk’s magic on screen. Been a while but always liked this one and largely doe to setting and having Takakura Ken in the film. Yup I’m a huge fan of the Mitchum film. For another Ken English language film, Mr. Baseball is a decent comedy where he is a Baseball coach to Tom Selleck signing to play in Japan. Harmless fun.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Bet it looked amazing on the big screen. Those visuals and Blade Runner style shots are made for the cinema. Yeah I’ve always had an off and on love for Michael Douglas. I like pretty much everything he’s been in but there’s something I can’t put my finger on…… Saying that I forgot about The Game. I really need to revisit that one.
      Mr Baseball added to the list. I like the sound of it. A perfect weekend matinee film.

      Liked by 3 people

    • Haha Glen I did see your post and I was in the middle of writing this review and began thinking “Glen’s gonna grow out his muscle mullet then sprint to the airport jumping on a plane to the UK to find this insolent hairy beast and box his ears” !!

      Oh shame on your naughty friend! Still gets a mention 30 years later! Unforgivable!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, Memory Lane….meet my feet using you for a walk this morning !!
    What a fun review! Omg, it was SO long ago! We probably haven’t seen it since it came out or the early ’90s!!
    That shot above his hilarious: it must be very difficult to master the art of eating a plate of Japanese food while smoking at the same time.
    “Sometimes you gotta forget your head and grab your balls.”
    LOL (good advice!)
    “I’m sure he can summon up rage with the power of his mullet.”
    “You wanna jerk off, go back to your office.”
    LOL ! ! !
    That’s MY go-to place for special private time, for sure !!! Coworkers be damned !!! Hey, just look the other way, kiddoes, and don’t act like YOU don’t do it too !!!
    I’m sorry, that was gross. My mother would have a heart attack if she read this.

    Boy, the Blade Runner perspective: totally agree! Ridley must have been going for that, either conciously or unconsciously try to revisit the fame and glory of his Blade Runner days. (Although I’m not sure Blade Runner was a blockbuster. Didn’t it gain in popularity as years went by and eventually became a classic?)
    Also TOTALLY agree about Douglas as an actor. For me he’s take it or leave it, but hubby thinks he’s really good. And Glenn, of course. 🙂
    But I do prefer him in comedies too. Don’t forget War of the Roses. One of his best !!!
    Well, the Japanese must look at Black Rain as a comedy with the American cowboys taking on the Yakuza. They probably have “Black Rain” movie parties and invite tons of friends over and sit around eating popcorn (or lemon rice crackers; I looked up Japanese snacks) and roar with laughter.

    Lastly: (Oh my god, thank god, thought Mikey) Ken Takakura. I loved him. So great. Totally on point to all him the Japanese Clint Eastwood.
    Very sad to hear about Yūsaku Matsuda battling for his life the entire time he was filming and then expiring right after. Except I guess doing what you love while you’re dying instead of lying in bed staring at a ceiling is probably a lot better way to go. But still…
    And Luis Guzman. Props!
    He had a recurring role in the Showtime show Shameless for a while and I was newly impressed and moved by his acting. What a mug!
    Anyhoo, I apologized to Glenn a few days ago for a novel, so I must extend the same to you too. Sorry for the novel. I obviously get diarrhea of the mouth–or fingertips.
    But this movie brought back a lot of memories…and side comments. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • You crazy Stacey and I love it LOL.
      I ain’t got an office and I’m not ready to get arrested… quite yet! Need to save that for the perfect meltdown time when I’m dragged out kicking and screaming, pissed, screaming and…. well masturbating! LOL

      Haha yeah smoking and noodles. Funny that picture looks like he’s also got a big hair curler in his fringe! hehe
      Slapped bottom time! I haven’t seen The War of the Roses before! But those statements are both bad things and good. I got it to see for the first time now. Fresh eyes, well middle aged eyes but that’s off topic.

      Totally forgot Luis Guzmán was in Shameless. I did watch the first season. I can’t believe it’s had 10 seasons! Saying that the British one did 11! and I think I only watched the first also. Liked both a lot but just seemed to forget about them.

      “diarrhea of the mouth–or fingertips” is always welcome at Wolfies yard. 🙂
      Thanks for the most excellent comment. Made my day with a big smile.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Totally agree, with your assessment on Black Rain, Mikey. It could have been very good–all the elements are there–good actors, great location, great photography, good director–and it just fizzles…But those tag lines! Wow! Really sums up the late 80s early 90s action films vibe. So tough you can’t chew through it–and then you almost choke on it because you’re laughing so hard. Yowza!


  4. Your overall rating matches mine, I’d say. It took me forever to see it, and when I finally did, I thought it looked good, but wished it had more to it. BUT…I was able to find a VHS version of it in a Blockbuster rental box to keep as a collector’s item!

    And speaking of which: those photos of VHS box covers you use to lead off your posts…are those from your own collection, or do you find them on-line? I don’t think I’ve asked you that question before, but if I have…my apologies!

    Liked by 1 person

    • apologies! apologies! apologies! Sorry dude!
      Todd that’s so cool you got the VHS version as a collector’s item and great addition to the cinema monolith vaults.
      They are not my VHS cassette covers unfortunately bro. I try and find the images online. I think they sit well in the VHS memory reviews. I do still have two tea chest boxes filled with tapes in the loft but stupidly I sold most of them when dvd’s came out. Think most the tapes in the box are movies I’ve recorded off the telly. I haven’t looked in there for near on 20 years when we moved here. Will look one day and see if there’s any goodies left that could make good additions to the wolf lair.


  5. A classic case of “style over substance.” The film looks and sounds great, but the storyline isn’t as engaging as it should have been. It’s closer to brother Tony Scott’s sensibilities (e.g. Top Gun) than Ridley’s.


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