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RISING SUN ($30) is an entertaining mystery/thriller based upon Michael Crichton's novel about the culture clash between America and Japan. Both the novel and the film have been accused of Japan bashing for it's portrayal of the Japanese business ethic, but considering that Crichton is such a stickler for detail in his stories, I am willing to go with the flow. The plot of RISING SUN concerns the murder investigation that ensues after a beautiful woman is killed at the American headquarters of Japanese company. Wesley Snipes portrays Web Smith, the special police investigator assigned to the case. For this particular investigation, Smith finds himself teamed with John Connor (Sean Connery), an officer who spent many years living in Japan.

Connor's familiarity with the Japanese language and culture would seem to make him the perfect man for this particular investigation, but there are those in the department who feel that Connor's time in Japan make his loyalties suspect. While Connor may appear to have his own agenda, he knows the Japanese better than they know themselves, which enables him to get at the truth. Since RISING SUN is a mystery, the plot is better left undisclosed in this review, leaving it for the viewer to experience first hand. Sean Connery is particularly effective in the role of John Connor and definitely has chemistry with his co-star Wesley Snipes. The cast of RISING SUN also features Harvey Keitel, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Kevin Anderson, Mako, Ray Wise, Stan Egi, Stan Shaw, Tia Carrere and Steve Buscemi.

RISING SUN is another missed opportunity for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. Instead of blowing us away with a brand new 16:9 enhanced transfer, Fox provides a 4:3 Letterboxed presentation. Sure, RISING SUN looks pretty good right now on a 4:3 monitor, but considering that wide screen HDTVs and progressive scan DVD players are dropping in price, this unenhanced disc isn't going to have a long shelf life. Getting back to the matter at hand… When played back on a 4:3 monitor, RISING SUN delivers a sharp, well-defined image that boasts relatively good shadow detail. Film grain is occasionally noticeable in the film’s numerous darker scenes, but it never becomes distracting. Colors are strongly saturated and the flesh tones are very appealing. The strongest of the hues are reproduced without any evidence of chroma noise, although some of the hotter colors threatened to bleed through. Blacks are very accurate and the image has fairly smooth contrast. Digital compression artifacts remain in check throughout the presentation.

RISING SUN features a Dolby Digital 5.0 channel soundtrack that lacks a separate bass channel. For the most part the mix is quite good, creating a spacious forward soundstage and clean, precise dialogue reproduction. Channel separation in the front is quite good, with definite left-right panning of sounds. The surrounds are noticeably utilized during the action-oriented moments of the film; otherwise they provide ambient sounds to the various sonic environments. Although the soundtrack lacks a separate bass channel, RISING SUN has a distinct bottom end that makes its presence known. No, it isn't Earth shattering, but the lower frequencies are there. Additionally, there is a slight edginess to some of the higher frequency sounds, I don't want to say the soundtrack is harsh, but it might sound that way on cheap speakers. The film's music sounds very good and works well within the mix. English and French Dolby Surround soundtracks are also encoded onto the DVD, as are English and Spanish subtitles.

The interactive menus contain a bit of animation and sound, but are otherwise rather basic. Through the menu system, one can access the standard scene and language selection features. A theatrical trailer and cast listing are provided as supplement.





DVD reviews are Copyright © 2000 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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