A murder investigation is difficult to handle because it is
intertwined with Japanese-American trade negotiations and various
cultural and diplomatic niceties.
I learned many valuable cultural lessons from this movie, and I
thought I would share them with you.
- American culture must obey the same laws as the Federation in
Star Trek. It must assume the sociological premise that all cultures
are inherently equal, and never try to impose its values upon
others. In fact, it must assume that American culture is inherently
inferior. For example, when Americans visit Japan, they must do a
lot of bowing and shoe-removing and hand over their business cards
with two hands. They must also speak very softly and move their arms
and hands very minimally, so as not to offend those delicate
Japanese sensibilities and traditions. Conversely, when Japanese
come here ..... oops - it doesn't work in reverse. They still do
everything their way. Only Americans are expected to change.
once caused a great cultural embarrassment in my company when we had
some visitors from Japan. Their senior man handed me his business
card in the Japanese fashion - two hands, slight bow. I said
something like "When I visited your facilities in Japan, I took
great care to show respect for your traditions. Now that you are
here, I see that you do not hand me your business card with one hand
while shaking my hand with the other. I can only assume that you do
not reciprocate the respect I have shown you and therefore dishonor
me and my culture." My colleagues were absolutely horrified, and I
think they expected not only to lose the account but to have to
clean up after a ritual suicide or two, but the Japanese CEO just
smiled and said, "In all the years we've dealt with Americans,
you're the first guy who ever saw through the bullshit." Later that
night, after several thousand drinks, they confessed what a great
laugh they get from watching American businessmen jump through hoops
for them. What an innate cynicism, bordering on sadism, they mask by
their aura of politesse!
- You also learn from Rising Sun that the older the culture, the
more wise. Let's presume that you are an American/Swiss medical team
working in someplace primitive like an equatorial rainforest or
Borneo or Kentucky or someplace like that. You stumble upon an
undiscovered tribe that has a life-expectancy of about 20 because
they subsist entirely on eating rabid raccoons, as their ancestors
have for 4000 years. Should you impose your new-fangled 20th century
ideas on them? Absolutely not. America has only 300 years of
significant history on this planet, and even Switzerland's
millennium is a drop in the historical bucket. The stone age
tribesman have an older culture, and are therefore wiser. Instead,
you should begin eating rabid raccoons and hand them your business
card with two hands.
- Lesson Three: don't try to mess with the Japanese in any way.
Don't go to American law enforcement officials, because they are all
owned by the Japanese. Oh, you may find some honest individual cops,
but their superiors are bought and paid for. Don't go to the
newspaper reporters, because they are almost all owned by the
Japanese. The ones that aren't will be fired by their editors, who
are themselves bought and paid for. I don't even have to mention
that the Japanese own all US senators and representatives. Let's
just say you have no choices. Just do what they want.
- Lesson Four: strangely enough, the only weakness of the Japanese
is their martial arts. An old geezer and a street-wise ex-ballplayer
cop can kick the asses of 10 ultra-violent Yakuza tough guys.
- Lesson Five: US senators will lie to your face about anything,
no matter how blatant the lie. But when they are confronted with
physical evidence of their past misdoings, they break down and cry
while their wives commit instant suicide.
- Lesson Six: when a street-educated black guy speaks fluent
Japanese one minute, the very next minute he will say something
ignorant like "sempei - apple pie, whatever you want me to call you"
- Lesson Seven: if you are being chased by a group of
ultra-violent Japanese thugs, always travel with a black guy. Then
you can drive through a violent black 'hood, consort with the
leading brothers, and the black community will join hands to
terrorize the Japanese thugs who are trailing you.
Actually, it's a shame that the script made such a clumsy mess of
all these details, because the concept really had potential. Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes were well cast as
the two investigators; Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa gave a nuanced performance
as the playboy who is more than he seems to be; and there were plenty
of elegant and well-conceived scenes.
But the killer is in the details, and the filmmakers messed them up
badly. The Snipes character was inconsistently written, and the minor
characters (the Buscemi reporter, the pompous senator, the yuppie
working for the Japanese) were cartoons. Some other characters existed
only for implausible one-dimensional melodrama, e.g. the senator's
wife who appeared only to commit suicide, and Snipes' wife who was
only a disembodied voice of irrational carping.
'Tis a shame, because they might have had something great here,
something truly classic, but
dumbed it down Hollywood-style, and delivered a solid but unremarkable movie.
Critics Vote ...
|The meaning of the IMDb
score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of
excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars
from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm
watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars
from the critics. The fives are generally not
worthwhile unless they are really your kind of
material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics,
or a C- from our system.
Films rated below five are generally awful even if you
like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one
and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less,
depending on just how far below five the rating
A means the movie is so good it
will appeal to you even if you hate the genre.
B means the movie is not
good enough to win you over if you hate the
genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an
open mind about this type of film. Any film rated B- or better
is recommended for just about anyone. In order to rate at
least a B-, a film should be both a critical and commercial
success. Exceptions: (1) We will occasionally rate a film B- with
good popular acceptance and bad reviews, if we believe the
critics have severely underrated a film. (2) We may also
assign a B- or better to a well-reviewed film which did not do well at the
box office if we feel that the fault lay in the marketing of
the film, and that the film might have been a hit if people
had known about it. (Like, for example, The Waterdance.)
C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but
will be considered excellent by people who enjoy this kind of
movie. If this is your kind of movie, a C+ and an A are
indistinguishable to you.
means it is competent, but uninspired genre fare. People who
like this kind of movie will think it satisfactory. Others
probably will not.
C- indicates that it we found it to
be a poor movie, but genre addicts find it watchable. Any film
rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of
film, but films with this rating should be approached with
caution by mainstream audiences, who may find them incompetent
or repulsive or both. If this is NOT your kind of movie, a C-
and an E are indistinguishable to you.
D means you'll hate it even if you
like the genre.
We don't score films below C- that
often, because we like movies and we think that most of them
have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that,
you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.
Films rated below C- generally have both bad reviews and poor
means that you'll hate it even if
you love the genre.
means that the film is not only unappealing
across-the-board, but technically inept as well.
Based on this description, this
film is a C (Scoop) to C+
a competent police procedural with some
interesting insights and some mass appeal as well.