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!“.
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)
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.
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
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”