Douglas is a mildly corrupt cop (he's on the take, sure, but he also races motorcycles to earn a few bucks before work), but we are expected to forgive this because he has to pay alimony and child support (though the wife seems to be far better off). While internal affairs closes in, our pal Nick gets involved in a Yakuza gang war -- as he and partner Charlie (Andy Garcia) are having lunch, no less.
Chase ensues and Nick bags a Japanese felon. Japan wants him back, so he and Charlie jet to Osaka, where they hand him over to the cops... or rather, to the killer's pals who flash a phony badge. Oh no! Before you know it, Nick is marauding his way around Japan (jurisdiction is just a state of mind, it seems) and bagging gangsters left and right.
Shot during the late-'80s infatuation with everything Japanese, Black Rain is a bit of a follow-up to the grim but artistic Blade Runner, taking a similar setting and shoehorning in an awkward cop drama. How awkward? In the film's third act we discover -- apropos of nothing -- that the whole movie revolves around a counterfeiting scheme which one gangster has engaged in as a sort of vengeance for the atom bomb drop on Hiroshima. I'm still trying to get my mind around that one.
The rest of the movie comprises the usual chases, shootouts, and Ugly American vignettes, with detours paid to a geisha (Kate Capshaw) and a Japanese cop who quickly becomes Nick's buddy, even after Nick's antics get him suspended. Something tells me the police system doesn't quite work this way in either New York or Japan. Fortunately, atmosphere gets you a long way, as does slicing up Garcia with a samurai sword. Watching these two guys bumble their way through an investigation (as every clue and lead is literally dropped in their laps and every problem is solved by violence) is equally, absurdly priceless.
A new special edition DVD includes commentary from Scott and a mega-making-of featurette in four parts.
Run time: 125 mins
In Theaters: Friday 22nd September 1989
Box Office Worldwide: $45.9M
Distributed by: Paramount Home Video
Production compaines: Paramount Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 52%
Fresh: 11 Rotten: 10
IMDB: 6.6 / 10
Director: Ridley Scott
Producer: Stanley R. Jaffe, Sherry Lansing