Rising Sun (1993) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Tuna's notes

Rising Sun is a crime drama based on a Michael Crichton novel. The novel was controversial, and was considered Japan-bashing in some circles, because it was critical of the way Japan was buying corporate America. The film is generally considered to be more respectful of Japan, but launched a new round of Japan-bashing debates.

As the film opens, a Japanese company is negotiating to purchase an important US semiconductor company. There is congressional opposition, claiming that it put the US munitions industry at the mercy of the Japanese. At a party in the Japanese company headquarters in LA, we see a man go into a darkened conference room, and have strangulation sex with a professional mistress. Later, she is found dead on the conference room table. Forensic evidence points to a Japanese perpetrator. Wesley Snipes is called in to investigate, and is ordered to pick up Sean Connery, an expert on Japan. What Snipes thinks is a simple case, especially after receiving a doctored security recording, is a much more complicated issue, as Connery knew all along.

Note that they were using mini-LASER disks to record the output of their security cameras, which was very advanced for 1993!

The critics pretty uniformly gave the film lukewarm reviews, but I found it a perfectly good entry in the whodunit genre, and enjoyed the cultural insights, as well as the interplay between Snipes and Connery.



  • No features
  • the transfer is widescreen, but letterboxed, not anamorphically enhanced



  • Tatjana Patitz - T&A

  • Tylyn John - T&A

  • Shelley Michelle - breasts

Scoop's notes

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.

    I 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.

The Critics Vote ...

  • Super-panel consensus:  two and a quarter stars out of four. James Berardinelli 2.5/4, Roger Ebert 2/4, BBC 3/5.


The People 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 is.

Our own guideline:

  • 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.
  • C 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 popular acceptance.
  • E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre.
  • F 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+ (Tuna), a competent police procedural with some interesting insights and some mass appeal as well.

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