The Scott brothers try their hand at the Ugly American genre.
BLACK RAIN (1989)
Osaka is the city of the future. And the future’s so bright, Michael Douglas wears shades.
Not wanting to exit the eighties without having directed at least one stupid action movie, Sir Ridley latches onto this bike riding shoot-em-up. What’s the attraction for him? Well, besides the money to be made from directing a movie that people actually want to see, it’s probably the Japanese setting. This is the world of Blade Runner, today (“Today”, of course, being twenty years ago). Plenty of opportunities for smoke, spinning fans and flashing neon lights. Or maybe, as a character in the movie says, “Sometimes you gotta forget your head, and grab your balls”.
For me to say that a Ridley Scott movie looks beautiful is becoming as redundant as saying that Robert DeNiro gave a good performance in something; Just know and accept that all Ridley movies look incredible.
Storywise, it’s the standard fish out of water set-up, though the fish in question is kind of a racist douche with an action mullet. As the title suggests, there’s a bit of an implication of America for the unrestrained capitalism and aggression in Japan, but this merely serves as a backdrop for what could easily have been an Andrew Davis/Steven Seagal revenge thriller. Mrs. Spielberg shows up for. . . well, I’m not really sure what reason. To have a white chick in the movie, I guess.
Yusaku Matsuda, who sadly passed away after the making of this, is fun as the main villain, and Andy Garcia is lively in the sidekick role.
Watchable, but forgettable.
6 out of 10
Meanwhile, brother Tony is looking to transition out of the mainstream action movie game. The opening scenes involve Kevin Costner as a fighter pilot, which has no real connection to the narrative. It feels like Tony waving goodbye to Top Gun, and the optimism of the eighties. Later, when Costner’s character removes someone’s balls, you realize that Tony has finally found his.
Very arch, very operatic movie, but if you can get into the spirit of it, it’s pretty fun. Much like Black Rain, this is a movie about Tough Dudes doing Tough Things. Anthony Quinn, Madeline Stowe, and, strangely enough, even Costner are solid in this. Good supporting performances by Miguel Ferrer and John Leguizamo.
Not a great film, but it is the beginning of the dirty, brutal Tony that I know and love.
7 out of 10