This post was written by special guest author Nicholas "The Maz" Mazmanian. Here he is pictured in Hill Valley c. 1955.
I love Black Rain. The film is awesome in so many words, one of them being curly-mullet-action. In the film we follow tough New York cop Nick Conklin (played by Michael Douglas) and his partner Charlie (played by Andy Garcia) as they transport a high profile Japanese Yakuza thug named Sato. They lose Sato, they trail Sato, and eventually the film climaxes into what the 80’s (or Michael Bay) did best, the over the top end scene. That’s about it. No, really that about sums the film up. There are small details and such that will be discussed but in the mean time, that’s about the entire film.
Not to be confused with Chubby Rain.
That is why this film is known as Ridley’s Tony film. It has by and far one of the most formulaic plots in the vast and well aged genre of Action/Japanese/Romance/Andy Garcia playing another Italian. This film is the standard issue semi-bad cop, who is divorced and under the ever watchful eye of the law, goes out of his way and earns back his sense of do-gooding. I know what you’re thinking, “But Nick, that standard issue doesn’t sound that standard.” Please bear with me, I will list a few films who use that same old grab bag of what was listed before, Cobra, Tango and Cash, and Daylight. Yes, all of these films have Sylvester Stallone in them, but really is there any other actor who is finer at finding the character within them than Stallone? I think not.
Pulling away from the long and over done loose train of thought, Black Rain has a lot of the trappings of a Tony Scott film without Tony Scott being attached to the film. Now I love Ridley Scott, but this film feels like a watered down version of Blade Runner. For instance, if you stop the film during any of the urban transition shots at night you could mistake 1980's Tokyo for Los Angeles 2019. I think to save on production costs the film must have re-used many of the same sets. While this may seem like a bad thing, it isn’t, because it makes the film seem that much more badass. With the body count rising and the random explosions it seems like Ridley, every now and again, grabbed the phone and asked Tony, “How do should decapitate this man?”
"Brother, when are we going to make a BIG movie?"
As the film progresses and moves, I began to see that if this film were in the hands of an unknown film maker it would have easily been forgotten and moved directly to the 9pm time slot on WGN. Ridley does a great job at directing the film and making it one of the prettiest cop action films to date; and with a soundtrack done by Hans Zimmer it’s safe to say that it’s worth viewing multiple times. The amount of production values in this film is staggering and it shows, making Black Rain, The Searchers of the Action/Cop movie world.
In closing, I can say that Black Rain is easily one of my favorite popcorn films. I love to watch it when I feel the need to be Japanese. If I have one thing against the film it is if it were made twenty years earlier it would have starred Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune — and knowing that makes me sad. That and Kate Capshaw is in it. Please don’t judge the film on this final note.
Black Rain is available on Special Edition DVD.