Black Rain (1989) – Ridley Scott

Ridley Scott remains one of my favourite technical directors, and it’s been awhile since I settled in for this crime thriller, that stars Micheal Douglas, Andy Garcia, Kate Capshaw, and Ken Takakura.

Douglas plays Nick Conklin a less than clean New York bigoted cop currently under investigation by Internal Affairs when he and his partner Charlie (Garcia) witness a murder and then apprehend the Japanese national who committed the crime, Sato (Yusaku Matsuda) a ruthless thug with designs on becoming a Japanese crimelord.

Nick and Charlie are ordered by their captain (John Spencer) to accompany Sato back to Japan and turn him over to the authorities there. Once there, Sato slips them, and the detectives find themselves in a world that is familiar but completely outside their understanding.

Visually proficient, Scott brings Japan to the screen in a way that makes it look like another version of Blade Runner, while also serving up a gritty fish out of water story that sees Nick come into conflict with Japanese police officer Masahiro (Takakura) who serves his division with duty and honour, which may only be words to Nick.

But as he finds himself entrenched in the case, and getting some aide from an ex-pat from Chicago, Joyce (Capshaw) Nick may understand enough to stop a gang war from erupting and stopping Sato.

Smoke, neon, industrial workspaces, rain, I could be describing Blade Runner, but it also serves as a visual template for Black Rain, and serves as a nice contrast to the dirty grit of the film’s New York streets.

I love the twists and turns in the film as they play out, and how Charlie, Nick and Masahiro learn to work together. The attack and action sequences are tightly choreographed, and are executed with the attention to detail and style that we expect from Scott.

There are emotional punches to the film, as well as physical ones, and they are earned by actors who are bringing their game to the film, and it shows. Douglas and Garcia are great, and you feel as if they really are partners, and the friction and friendship that springs up between Nick and Masahiro feels authentic as well.

Scott isn’t always great storywise, he’s very much a technical director, and that is where he not only excels but sets the bar, but I quite dig this one, and have always found Japanese culture fascinating, and it’s always cool to see American and Japanese juxtaposed and see what plays out there.

The film also marked the first time Scott collaborated with his now long time associate, composer Hans Zimmer. I do enjoy a Ridley Scott film, maybe it’s time to dig into some more…

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