Yûsaku Matsuda's last film role. Matsuda knew he had bladder cancer and that his condition would be aggravated by acting in the movie. He elected to do so anyway, unbeknownst to director Ridley Scott, reportedly saying, "This way, I will live forever." He died on 9 November 1989, less than seven weeks after the film's American premiere. The film is dedicated to his memory.
When the crew ran even a few minutes over their allotted filming time at any given location in Japan, not only were they told to leave, a man physically walked in front of the camera and forbade them from continuing filming.
In Japanese cinema, Ken Takakura was well known from regularly playing Yakuza gangsters whilst Yûsaku Matsuda was well known from regularly playing detectives. In Black Rain (1989) though, Takakura plays a cop and Matsuda plays a Yakuza.
Jan de Bont replaced Howard Atherton as Director of Photography. Atherton shot most of the film, but he got so frustrated in Japan that he resigned. de Bont was then brought in to finish the rest of the film and received official credit; Atherton is credited for "Additional Photography."
The exterior of Sugai's house was the Ennis-Brown House, which is situated at 2655 Glendower Avenue, Los Feliz in Los Angeles, California. Director Ridley Scott had previously used the dwelling for Deckard's apartment complex in Blade Runner (1982).
"Black Rain", according to Wikipedia, refers to "nuclear fallout, known as black rain by survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki" in Japan, which Sugai (Tomisaburô Wakayama) mentions in one of the last scenes. The phrase's use here was figurative and referential whereas its use in the same-title film Black Rain (1989), also from 1989, was literal, its use literally dealing with nuclear fallout.
Often considered the Ridley Scott film most comparable to one of his late brother Tony Scott's pictures. Tony has been called one of the key pioneers of the contemporary Hollywood stylistic action epic.
During the plane flight from New York to Osaka, Nick and Charlie have a brief discussion about a fellow cop named "Ronan" who apparently took money from a drug bust. In Japan, a "Ronin" is traditionally a renegade, master-less samurai, often one who is viewed with derision by samurai of better standing.
One of two 1989 movies entitled "Black Rain". A film about the aftermath of Hiroshima's atomic bombing by Shôhei Imamura was released the same year with a Japanese title Black Rain (1989) which translates to "Black Rain". The two films are, of course, totally unrelated.
"Black Rain" is also an alternate title of the 1970s Peter Weir Australian film The Last Wave (1977), which was renamed "Black Rain" for distribution in the USA. Of course, the two films have nothing in common.
The "Yakuza" are the Japanese mafia. This is one of first American and Hollywood feature films to feature them, others being Armed Response (1986), The Challenge (1982) and The Yakuza (1974). In Japanese cinema, there is an entire genre of "Yakuza Film" which are very popular with audiences.
Michael Douglas' detective character has the same first name ("Nick") as his character in Basic Instinct (1992) in which Douglas also portrays a cop. Douglas's character in Black Rain (1989) is Detective Nick Conklin whilst in Basic Instinct (1992) it is detective Nick Curran.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
At the end of the movie Nick apprehends Sato, although there is a moment when he is torn between arresting and killing him. Ridley Scott also shot an alternative ending where Nick follows through and impales Sato on the spike.
The scene where Charlie (Andy Garcia) sings on stage at the night-club with Masahiro (Ken Takakura) was not in the script. Garcia conceived the scene to add extra emotional involvement to his character, before he is brutally murdered in the following scene.
In this film and Basic instinct, Michael Douglas's characters both cops named Nick have partners who get killed. One named Charlie played Andy Garcia gets his head chopped off in the parking garage, the other named Gus played george Dzuneda gets stabbed in the neck in the elevator with an ice pick.