Black Rain

Michael Douglas

Directed by Ridley Scott
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 0
Community: star rating
5 0 0
September 22, 1989

In his Oscar-winning role in Wall Street, Michael Douglas was a scumbag trader who dirtied his soul but kept his hands clean. Now, as the grungy NYPD detective Nick Conklin, Douglas — in a galvanizing performance — dives right in the muck. Conklin is a rude, rule-breaking hothead. Disillusion is about to send him over the top. His wife's left him, his department suspects him of taking bribes, and his new assignment, baby-sitting a Japanese hood named Sato (Yusaku Matsuda) on a flight from New York to Osaka, has just been royally botched. Sato has eluded Conklin and his partner, Charlie Vincent, wittily acted by Andy Garcia. Now Conklin must recapture his prisoner on alien turf.

It's a fish-out-of-water yarn. Another one. Originality is not this thriller's strong suit. Style is. Black Rain is exotic, energized entertainment with director Ridley Scott (Alien, Blade Runner) nosing his camera into Osaka's dark, unfamiliar corners. Scott knows how to juice the throttle of a fight scene and how to give the actors — even Kate Capshaw as an irrelevant love interest — space to shine. But what raises the film above the herd is the way Scott lets the traditions of a foreign land work changes on Conklin. At first Conklin is contemptuous of Masahiro Matsumoto (Ken Takakura), the Japanese detective assigned to watchdog him. To Conklin, Matsumoto is a suit — a slave to ritual and an outdated code of honor. The casting of Takakura, Japan's Clint Eastwood, is an inspired stroke. His transformation from desk jockey to warrior opens Conklin's eyes. It's risky making an action picture that breaks its violent stride to emphasize the difficulties of living up to preconceived ideas of masculinity. But it's that risk that makes Black Rain distinctive. By refusing to beat its Eastern and Western protagonists into comic-book pulp, the movie pays them, and the audience, a rare compliment.

Movie Review Main Next


Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...


Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.


    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories


    The Commodores | 1984

    The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

    More Song Stories entries »