For one thing, I like Michael Douglas. I liked him thirty years ago in _The Streets of San Francisco_, I liked him even better after he turned _One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest_ from a great book and a great stage play into a great motion picture, and I've kept right on liking him every time he's gotten himself cast in a stylish, well-scripted film.
And this _is_ a stylish, well-scripted film. It's every bit as dark as you expect from Ridley Scott, and although there's a fairly well-defined villain, the 'heroes' are morally ambiguous. I like that in a movie.
The reviewers who say Michael Douglas's character Nick Conklin is an 'ugly American' are right, but they seem to have missed the fact that this is part of the point. This film is a fairly ambitious, though not terribly deep, attempt to bring off an East-meets-West theme in what looks superficially like just another buddy-cop movie. The 'black rain' of the title is one of the aftereffects of the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and it's the symbolic stand-in for the Western 'decadence' bemoaned by the more traditional Nipponese (even the crime bosses).
But that doesn't mean Japan wins the dramatic argument. On the contrary, the Nipponese cop (played with endearing self-effacement by Ken Takakura) learns a few things from his new cowboy friend 'Nick-san' too. (And the karaoke scene with Takakura and Andy Garcia is priceless.)
Kate Capshaw doesn't really need an excuse to appear in a film, and that's good, because here she doesn't really have one. She's an expatriate American who inexplicably keeps turning up at the center of the action. She gives the film a bit of _Casablanca_-like flavor, but it's more a matter of mood than anything else.
I won't tell you anything about the plot except that it involves the Japanese underworld and that it zips along at a fast clip. Don't look away or you'll miss something.
The whole thing is rendered most atmospherically, with the sort of dark and brooding edge that I like in a film (and at which Ridley Scott excels). In general I'm not the biggest fan of Hans Zimmer's scores, but for the most part he's used pretty effectively here.
This is a first-rate action-adventure thriller, and I don't feel the slightest bit 'guilty' for taking a very great deal of pleasure in it.