The Good

A well told tale that seems to hold up over time.

The Bad

Overall, I don't know that this movie is screaming to be released in a Special Edition.

In Black Rain, Michael Douglas turns in a classic Michael Douglas performance in the role of Detective Nick Conklin. Believed to be an officer on the take, he teams up with Detective Charlie Vincent (Andy Garcia) to escort a Yakuza mob boss back to Japan. Things get really complicated when Conklin and Vincent get duped into giving the mob boss to the wrong people, and now they are on the outs with departments in the U.S. and Japan. Things get even uglier when the Yakuza comes after Vincent and Conklin, and eventually this movie boils down to a stand off between the two strongest characters. Directed with a restrained style by Ridley Scott, Black Rain works because it tells a story that is layered in humanity. At it's most basic and simple level, a viewer is made to care about these characters in spite of themselves.

Overall, I found that Black Rain has held up pretty well over the years, and I think it looks really good in this Special Edition release.

Features

Commentary Track

Ridley Scott does the sole duty on this commentary track and I have to think it's because Michael Douglas was busy that he didn't attend. Why in the world would you not want to sit down with this guy and talk about this film? That said, as he usually does, Scott doesn't get into technical things that much, but rather speaks from the standpoint of an inspired artist. When you are as respected as he is, you have he luxury of having many options at your disposal. He discusses the characters, breaks down the scenes, but never gives you more information than it seems he is comfortable giving. It is this ability to not reveal too much, that keeps you listening in the hopes that he will.

Black Rain: Post Production" Featurette

Black Rain: The Script, The Cast" Featurette

I am someone who loves screenwriting so any time I can hear about how someone else works, I am all ears. This was interesting but overall a little pedestrian. The most intriguing part for me was finding out about how the writer negotiated the different aspects of the story. I have never written a screenplay that didn't take place in the U.S. (I don't think I've ever written one that didn't take place in Southern California), so right there I wanted to know how you write for that kind of environment. Well, not surprisingly, research is a big a part of the equation as it is on any screenplay.

Black Rain: Making the Film Part 1 and 2

You know you're getting something good when they give you a two part making of. We get to hear from the actors, the director, and other creative types about the process involved in bringing this film to the big screen. I can only imagine what it must be like to shoot in another country, but this movie shows you logistically how that is pulled off. Also, these two featurettes discuss the themes in the movie, and how it looks at the relationship between Japan and the U.S.. While it has a certain level of fluff around it, I think that these featurettes are worth checking out.

Video

Enhanced Widescreen Letterbox for 16x9 TVs. The DVD transfer of this movie was really nice. I remember when I first screened it in the theater (it could have also been the screen) and thinking that the image was much too dark. Before I screened this film, I was wondering how that might parlay into this viewing experience on DVD. I think we have all seen films that have been overcooked in the compression process. Well, I was really happy to see that nothing was lost in terms of the images on screen, but at the same time they didn't artificially brighten the picture either.

Audio

Dolby Digital. The audio on this disk was good but I know that this movie is coming out in one of the next generation formats, so I have a feeling that's where Ridley Scott is really going to be excited about this release. Sure, I think I got everything on the surface with my one speaker TV, but I am willing to bet that this movie plays as possibly a whole new experience when you factor in surround sound and home theater setups. I couldn't help but think that this release was a precursor for something better to come.

Package

Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia are featured prominently on this cover with a lot of Japanese imagery around them. The back offers up some more shots from the film, a description of what Black Rain is about, a Special Features listing, and system specs. While nothing about this packaging blew me away, I think it may have worked better had it employed the film's original one sheet.

Final Word

I remember watching a Michael Douglas Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony at the Golden Globes a few years ago and thinking that this might be a tad premature. Wouldn't it have made more sense to give that award to his father? Or, perhaps Karl Malden who worked with the young actor on The Streets of San Francisco? Douglas is only 62 for crying out loud and he doesn't seem to have really slowed down his workload. I guess it didn't make sense when I was watching it, and even as the ceremony kept going it seemed like something Douglas was resigned to do more than something he wanted to do. I bring this up because I watch a movie like Black Rain, which is very much an action film, and while Douglas could probably not play this role now, I think it would be wrong to try and put him in the Actors Old Age Home just yet.

Black Rain was released September 22, 1989.