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Paramount Home Video presents
Black Rain: Special Collector's Edition (1989)

"If you pull it, you better use it."
- Nick Conklin (Michael Douglas)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga  
Published: October 10, 2006

Stars: Michael Douglas
Other Stars: Andy Garcia, Ken Takakura, Kate Capshaw
Director: Ridley Scott

MPAA Rating: R for (violence, adult language)
Run Time: 02h:05m:09s
Release Date: October 10, 2006
UPC: 097360430240
Genre: crime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Ridley Scott has his share of hidden gems in his filmography. 1989's Black Rain is one such forgotten treasure, posing as a Michael Douglas vehicle but actually serving as another example of just how deep this extraordinary filmmaker can take an audience inside a world they've never seen before. If you can get past Douglas' amazing mullet hairdo (which deserves separate billing), repeat viewings of this new special edition release are a sure thing.

Detective Nick Conklin (Douglas) isn't the cleanest of cops; he's constantly under scrutiny for a number of procedural violations. After witnessing a yakuza executed in a local restaurant, Nick and his partner Charlie Vincent (Andy Garcia) capture the man responsible, Sato (Yusaku Matsuda). Unfortunately, he has to be taken back to Japan to be tried for murder, and Nick and Charlie must accompany him. Once in Osaka, Sato escapes, and the detectives join forces with a Japanese counterpart, Masahiro Matsumoto (Ken Takakura). Now hot on Sato's trail, Nick enlists further help from Joyce (Kate Capshaw), who works at a club frequented by the yakuza. Before long, Nick is involved far too deeply in the Sato case, willing to risk anything and everything to track down this killer.

Douglas has always been able to pull off the "tough, yet vulnerable guy" role, regardless of what high-profile director he's working with. He puts away his good looks, appearing disheveled and rugged, actually making his Jack Colton character from Romancing the Stone look clean-cut. Here, Douglas takes his performance to another level, making this one of his most unforgettable turns. Just watch his reaction during a pivotal scene in a parking garage—his emotional response is truly gripping, his face doing more talking than most actors could do with their mouths.

With such a large focus on the yakuza in modern cinema, it's interesting to recall that Scott was paying attention to these Japanese gangsters 17 years ago. Taking us into their world shows us a side of Osaka that goes far beyond all of the lights and advanced technology. Scott's vision is reminiscent of his Blade Runner world, only this time we get a "real" environment that few westerners have experienced.

Black Rain is perhaps most memorable for putting Andy Garcia on the Hollywood map. Following this supporting role, this cinema heartthrob would go on to feature prominently in The Godfather Part III, and other edgy films. Garcia's coming out role is reason enough to check out this new disc, but there are so many of Scott's classic touches in play that it simply can't be overlooked again.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: This brand new, 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation is a marked improvement over the previously release's nonanamorphic transfer. Despite a slight bit of grain over the opening credits, this transfer is far and away the best Black Rain has ever looked on home video. Images are super crisp and sharp, while Ridley Scott's unique vision is brilliantly captured by vivid color rendering. There aren't any issues as far as contrast and shadow levels go, as it's difficult to tell that this is a 17-year-old movie.

Image Transfer Grade: A


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Frenchyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: The audio has been bolstered as well, with a new, Dolby Digital 5.1 EX mix providing us a more active, enveloping experience. The surrounds are extremely active, with wonderful channel separation and directional effects throughout. Tight, aggressive bass ups the ante during the action sequences, and the dialogue is always crisp and clear.

Audio Transfer Grade: A


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 Documentaries
2 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Director Ridley Scott
Packaging: Keep Case
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: This surprisingly healthy and entertaining extras collection is highlighted by a Ridley Scott audio commentary. The material is a bit repetitive if you watch all of the documentary footage, but I'm not sure that there's ever been a disappointing Scott track, and this one is no different. He talks about every scene with much passion, teaching us quite a bit about the filmmaking process.

Next is Black Rain: The Script, the Cast, a newly filmed 20-minute retrospective. We get excellent interviews with Scott, Douglas, Garcia, and Capshaw talking about what it took to bring Black Rain to the big screen.

Black Rain: Making the Film: Part 1 and Part 2 lasts a total of 38 minutes and go into even more detail about the production. The most interesting aspects involve the Japan shoot, with nearly every actor reflecting on the experience.

Wrapping things up are the theatrical trailer and the 12-minute Black Rain: Post-Production, which goes over the editing of the final cut and Hans Zimmer's score.

Extras Grade: B+


Final Comments

Ridley Scott fans that limit themselves to his blockbusters should reach back and enjoy one of his lesser-known efforts. Paramount Home Video offers the chance to do just that with revamped audio and video, as well as a collection of amazing extras.


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