[box cover]

Black Rain

After Blade Runner's mixed reception, and then the disaster of 1985's Legend — which is a mess in any cut — director Ridley Scott retreated from challenging material and made a couple of films that could have just as easily been directed by brother Tony. Both Someone to Watch Over Me (1987) and Black Rain (1989) are Ridley in workman mode, directing genre projects most notable for their slick competency. Michael Douglas stars in Black Rain as Det. Sgt. Nick Conklin, a hard-living cop who seems to be on the edge due to some questions about him pilfering money from busts. During a lunch with Detective Charlie Vincent (Andy Garcia), the two see a group of Yakuza take out a Mafia don and are quickly on the hunt. They catch the killer, Sato (Yusaku Matsuda), and both are Sato's escort back to Japan. But once they land, they hand over Sato to men dressed as cops, which leads to an international incident. Partnered with Assistant Inspector Masahiro Matsumoto (Ken Takakura), they are told that they shouldn't be actively involved with the investigation. But Nick is tough-headed, and he can't help but try to figure out why Sato was in New York and where he's run off to. Sato is also aware of Nick and his meddling, which puts him and Charlie in Sato's line of fire. Nick enlists one of the few Americans he meets, an expat working in an expensive club named Joyce (Kate Capshaw) to help him get information on the Yakuza infrastructure. When an A-list talent makes a modest genre exercise, the results are usually either a solid B-movie or a disinterested mess — with Black Rain, Ridley Scott manages to make a slight buddy-cop formula picture that has enough impressive visual flourishes to engage the viewer, making it more of the former than the latter. Michael Douglas lends his arrogant-American performance the sort of swagger we would expect, but since it's a late-'80s movie, he's mostly right in his actions. The film was shot by Jan De Bont, who — like every cinematographer that's worked with Scott — delivers a beautiful picture. Paramount presents the film in a double-dipped Special Edition with a good anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) and Dolby Digital 5.1 EX audio. Extras include a commentary by Scott and a four-part "making-of" documentary, which includes "The Script, The Cast" (20 min.), "Making the Film: Part 1" (29 min.), "Making the Film: Part 2" (9 min.), and "Post-Production" (12 min.). Theatrical trailer, keep-case.

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