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Friday, 21 June 2019

Retro Review: Rising Sun (1993)

Rising Sun
Cast: Sean Connery, Wesley Snipes, Harvey Keitel, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Kevin Anderson, Mako, Tia Carrere, Steve Buchemi
Genre: Crime
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $107 million

Plot: When an escort girl is found dead in the offices of a Japanese company in Los Angeles, two detectives act as a liaison between the company's executives and the investigating cop

'Don't Let This Sun Go Down On Me'

I have not read the book this film is based on, like with many Hollywood adaptations, but Rising Sun is an overly complex offering that is fraught with issues and which is too intricate for its own good, as well as the audiences' tastes. 

The year in 1993 was a big one for Michael Crichton, author of numerous novels that were given the big-screen treatment: Jurassic Park became one of the highest-grossing movies as it topped the charts. Then came the follow-up, Rising Sun, which was a best seller in 1992. Crichton was critical of the changes, director Phillip Kaufman made for the film. & as mentioned, whilst I have not come across the book, I can see why he wasn't happy - that, and, as a general espionage thriller, Rising Sun is sorely lacking in all departments. 

A prostitute named Cheryl, who was also one of the guests, is found dead in the office building of a Japanese conglomerate and atop a table in the boardroom of Nakamoto headquarters. Her murder is under investigation by boorish LAPD Lt. Graham and because of his instant dislike towards the Japanese quickly pins the blame on Eddie. Detectives Lt. Web Smith is partnered up with the older and more experienced John Conner and the two try to make sense of who was responsible for Cheryl's death. With Conner, who is a specialist in Japanese culture, after discovering surveillance footage of the attack had been tampered with, both Smith and Conner suspect that the circumstances and motives behind it may run a lot deeper than they originally thought.

The story degenerates into an overlong, convoluted yet excruciatingly bland whodunit, which goes in all sorts of directions, but without a proper resolution, Rising Sun hasn't aged well and in watching it in 2019, this is an utterly trifling bore of a movie. The film presents itself as a mystery, yet I find it mystifying that no matter what avenue or route it headed with each storyline, either none of them made sense or that they came to an unsatisfying conclusion. Rising Sun lacks a focus; that and the lack of genuine tension and thrills for a so-called thriller makes it a huge disappointment. The mystery itself is sadly underplayed and so underwhelming, much to the film's detriment and it is conceived in a way that is not very enticing. But what compounded Rising Sun as a confusing mess is the sudden change of identity of the killer towards the end. The manner it happened and how Kaufman did this took me out and thus, it just didn't make an ounce of sense.

The buddy cop rapport between Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes doesn't work as well and having the latter function as a comic relief, lighter sidekick doesn't suit the movie's serious tone. The performances, as a whole, are okay, but they were burdened by an ineffective & plot-holed filled script. 

As far as Michael Crichton adaptations go for me, this is not up there with Jurassic Park, but it is not as bad as say 13th Warrior, Congo, Timeline. Heck, I'd take the much-maligned, Sphere of 1998 over Rising Sun.

Final Verdict:

Despite ending 1993 as the 17th highest-grossing film in the U.S box office, as a thriller it still underwhelms in every department; and by 2019 standards, Rising Sun, which is so utterly void of depth, just hasn't improved over the years.


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