Black Rain (1989)
Directed by Ridley Scott

Artistic & Entertainment Value
* *

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A maverick New York police officer (Michael Douglas) at odds with his superiors becomes, along with his young partner (Andy Garcia), inadvertently embroiled in a scheme involving members of the Yakuza, the Japanese Mafia, which leads the two policemen to Osaka.

Ridley Scott's police drama Black Rain is technically well made but is, otherwise, so hackneyed and mediocre that it is barely interesting.

There is, in fact, relatively little I can say about Black Rain. The entirety of the narrative is so formulaic virtually any viewer will be able to predict events successfully prior to their being shown. The cinematography is dull but competent, and the cast is undistinguished.

Michael Douglas plays, as usual, Michael Douglas and seems particularly enamored of himself throughout the film. Andy Garcia's performance is not memorable, but, at the very least, he has a far more engaging on screen persona than does Douglas. When Garcia's character inevitably dies, so that Douglas' can be angered and go after his killers, the movie loses what little appeal it had. The rest of the cast is just forgettable.

Black Rain is further burdened by many of the racist stereotypes common to a number of Western films. We learn that the Japanese are bound by honor, emphasize the group over the individual, and view all foreigners as barbarians. These depictions are troublesome enough to diminish what little pleasure the film might otherwise have provided. In the end, Scott has presented us with stereotypical Hollywood cops and stereotyped Japanese.

I cannot praise Black Rain for more than not being technically inept. The absence of poor production values is the only virtue with which I can credit the movie. Otherwise, it is dull, plodding, and ethnocentric.

Review by Keith Allen

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