Black Rain

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Christopher Bligh

Plot: What’s it about?

In the late 1980’s, director Ridley Scott went away from the science fiction and fantasy genre to try to expand his directorial skills in the thriller genre. He started from 1988 with a film noir whodunit with Someone To Watch Over Me. At the same time, Michael Douglas was riding high after his Oscar win for Wall Street and his steamy followup, Fatal Attraction, that also got some Oscar nominated attention. It was after Fatal Attraction that Douglas and Scott would collaborate for the first and, so far, only time(not counting the Oscar ceremony announcement in 2000 for Gladiator) with an underrated international cop thriller called “Black Rain”

Nick (Michael Douglas) is a cop under investigation and on the edge. He’s divorced, loves his child and he loves a good duel on the motorcycle now and then. One day while his partner (Andy Garcia) is fixated on being a fashionably suited cop during lunch, a few shady Japanese individuals make their prescence known in the restaurant with a knife and a package to obtain. They’re capture of the main assassin is successful, but transporting him home is another story as they find out. It’s up to the both of them, along with the Japanese police, to bring him back despite being the middle party in a gangland war of the Yakuza.

From the main titles and Gregg Allman’s title song, this film starts edgy and never lets go from one complication to the next. It’s starts with a gritty look of New York City, complements of the 80s and cinematographer (soon to be director) Jan DeBont, and transforms into the glossy, high neon colored world of Japan complete with suspense, cocktails and karaoke.

Michael Douglas plays Nick like a cop who is desperate to get away from his past and will go to any means in Japan to get his man, even if the price of his pursuit will cost him his life. Andy Garcia provides likable support as his sharp dressed partner while Ken Takakura is wonderful as the Japanese cop that sticks with Nick, whether he likes him or not, in assisting him with catching the bad guy.

Also worth noting is the solid score of Hans Zimmer. It’s one that keeps the pace going and has also been greatly used in many film trailers after the film’s release so much of the music is recognizable in scenes and you heard it in this film first.

“Black Rain” solidified Ridley Scott heading into the 1990s as a director to keep an eye on and is one of the many highlights of this accomplished director’s career.

Video: How does it look?

“Black Rain” was Ridley Scott’s first foray into Super 35 territory and the 2.35:1 transfer on this DVD is good but not great. The New York scenes have their share of grain and the Japanese scenes have a high brightness that doesn’t bleed. The picture remains sharp but does get a little grainy at places. This has been something that has plagued some of the movies of the 1980s. A slight improvement over the previous laserdisc transfer, though anamorphic enhancement would have been better.

Audio: How does it sound?

The sound on this DVD is in 5.1 and the sounds are sharp and without much video noise. The dialogue comes across all channels crisp but there is a slight muteness when it comes to the effects, with the exception of the honking of the bus horn in the film. A good soundtrack but, with it’s limits, it’s understandable that it was nominated but lost that year at the Oscars. This disc also has an English Dolby Surround and a French Dolby Surround track.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The only supplement on this title is the film’s theatrical trailer, which is the 2nd trailer for this film. There is a teaser that does exist and hopefully if Paramount can revisit this title in the near future, a remastering on all cases plus a commentary track by Ridley Scott would be a welcome improvement.

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