A departure from what fans typically expected from Michael Crichton, Rising Sun is about international relationships, not radical new technology. Instead, Crichtion chose to focus on the Japanese, and their involvement with American business. The novel was involving, a quick read loaded with tension. The film is similar in tone, although as with all adaptations, not without its quirks.
Rising Sun is aided by the casting of Sean Connery, who without even saying a word brings a sense of forcefulness to the screen that few actors can convey. Wesley Snipes is a lesser choice, although still a fine actor. There are some goofy, out of place comedic scenes, including one in which Snipes has a nude woman clinging to his back, that takes away from the suspense and well-built tension.
Story wise, Rising Sun deals with a controversial business deal between American and Japanese companies. During a party not long after negotiations within the Japanese-built Nakamura building, a woman is murdered. The Japanese try to do everything in their power to cover up the killer, and what follows is an entertaining game of chasing down suspects, including some now funny out-of-date technology.
The culture clash and the politics behind it are well handled, and direction from Phillip Kaufman is energetic to keep the pace flowing. However, the script is overloaded with characters, some who are introduced late in the film without much development. Steve Buscemi has a few lines of dialogue at best, Tia Carrere becomes a love interest late into the game, and Mako is sadly underdeveloped despite a fine performance.
Despite some problems, Rising Sun tells a fine story, and compared to the quality of some other Crichton film adaptations (Timeline), this one does a fine job of sticking with the novel where it can. Connery alone is worth spending two hours of your time for.
What starts off as a sloppy, soft, barely-better-than-DVD transfer suddenly picks up in the second half. Detail is sparse for the first hour thanks to an overly soft appearance that doesn’t allow for much refinement. Solid blacks create an excellent contrast. Color appears strong and rarely over saturated
As if one cue, specifically during the first investigation of the security tapes with Carrere, the video sharpens up to deliver some fine facial detail. The downside is some obvious edge enhancement, especially noticeable during the sushi bar discussion. It’s all very inconsistent and never comes close to a modern effort, though given its age, this should still have performed better.
Given the film is dialogue driven, the DTS-HD mix is as expected. There are minor moments of separation in the stereo channels, and an instance or two of surround work. The soundtrack, particularly the taiko drums, deliver a slight bump in the low end. A bit of musical bleed is evident too, although even this is predominantly front-loaded.
Extras include a meager three trailers. That’s it.