Bullet Points: Black Rain
Michael Douglas has a nice batch of action/adventure movies in his catalogue with Falling Down, Romancing the Stone, Jewel of the Nile, and his small role in Haywire. I thought that since he would soon be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe with his role in Ant Man that I would check in on one of his best “tough cop” roles in Black Rain.
The Gist: After witnessing a Yakuza hit in NYC, detectives Nick Conklin (Michael Douglas) and Charlie Vincent (Andy Garcia) apprehend the assailant and return him to Japan. The man known as Sato escapes upon their arrival and Nick and Charlie team up with a local Japanese detective as they attempt to find Sato before he disappears back into the Yakuza underworld.
The Cast: Follow Michael Douglas’ role in Wall Street as Gordon Gekko and just a couple of years before he gave Sharon Stone a good rodgering in Basic Instinct, Douglas starred as veteran detective Nick Conklin in Black Rain. It was a film that introduced many American audiences to the Yakuza and it gave Douglas and Andy Garcia room to really turn in starring roles before both of their careers would hit their peak. I dig the bad boy, “I ride a motorcycle, smoke constantly, and literally follow no rules” that Douglas has going for him. I think that given the current public feelings on law enforcement Douglas would be out of a job in about 4 minutes. Garcia plays his somewhat naïve partner who doubles as both the comic relief and also as the emotional linchpin for most of the movie. Let’s face it, partners don’t last long in this genre so it was only a matter of time before Douglas had to lose something in order to drive him towards his vengeance. I have to also mention Ken Takakura, who was one of the biggest stars in Japan at the time. He keeps Nick and Charlie moving slightly behind villain Sato’s gang and offers just enough help for Nick to finally do his 80’s hero thing in the end.
Douglas plays the role of a detective who will do whatever it takes very well.
The Villain: Yusaku Matsuda plays Yakuza wannabe boss Sato. This would be his last film role as he died less than seven weeks after the release of the film due to bladder cancer. Matsuda had usually portrayed police detectives in his career while Takakura had played Yakuza parts so they switched it up here and while I don’t have many complaints, I wasn’t a huge fan of the character Sato. He played a convincing enough bad guy but I didn’t really see much reason for his motivation. His kill count doesn’t quite deserve mentioning either. He mostly only goes after fellow Yakuza guys so if anything maybe the police should be thanking him.
Yakuza biker gangs!!
The Action: The whole plot revolves around Sato and his men stealing some American Dollar counterfeiting stuff from his fellow Yakuza people which is pretty much just like the Chris Farley movie Beverly Hills Ninja. I don’t know what that has to do with anything but it was the first thing that I thought of when they started talking about the plates so there you have it. Michael Douglas is no Chris Farley so we don’t get any fat guy cartwheels but he rides the shit out of a motorcycle at the beginning just to show that he is a lunatic and of course it all pays off in the end as he gets to show off again. Andy Garcia’s character was annoying for some of the movie and when “chickens come home to roost” for him, he kinda goes down a wimp. I would have liked to have seen a better finale also. You could probably say that I’ve been spoiled over the years but the final confrontation between Sato and Nick Conklin wasn’t all that I had hoped for.
As a Ridley Scott film you can expect it to have a very gritty look to it.
Take it Home:
- Casting: Jackie Chan turned down the role of Sato because he believed his fans didn’t want to see him play the bad guy.
- Fact: “Black Rain”, according to Wikipedia, refers to “nuclear fallout, known as black rain by survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki” in Japan, which Sugai (Tomisaburô Wakayama) mentions in one of the last scenes. The phrase’s use here was figurative and referential whereas its use in the same-title filmBlack Rain (1989), also from 1989, was literal, its use literally dealing with nuclear fallout.
- Action Bucket List: #8: Stop the Yakuza from committing a horrible crime.
- Blonde lady: It’s worth noting that Kate Capshaw plays “Joyce”, who helps Conklin find Sato while in Japan. She doesn’t really add much to the film and I was surprised that she didn’t succumb to Nick earlier.