Black Rain (1989 USA)

black-rain-3Made for 30 million bucks back when that sum would get you a seat at the top table. A place where the big machers compare the size of their mother’s mikvahs. This urban noir, photographed by Jan De Bont (director of “Speed”) makes Osaka look like the futuristic city in Ridley Scott’s other film, “Blade Runner.”  Same traffic and congestion of heavily populated streets, steam and people. Through De Bont’s lens the city is dark even during the day. Michael Douglas even dresses like another actor did in “Blade Runner.”

Veteran, highly commendated (but under investigation by the Internal Revenue Service for skimming drug money – “We know you are into the Shylocks”) 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 Japanese Embassy’s negotiations with the State Department. Once they arrive by plane in Osaka, Douglas and Garcia accidentally release their prisoner to his own Yakuza. They are dressed as police. Now our duo 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?

black-rainThe 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”. But Douglas is 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. As 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 is his only firm 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. 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.




  1. This film sounds amazing, definitely putting it on my to-watch list. Thanks for sharing, excellent review as always! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Always appreciate your comments. Thank you!


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