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The Yakuza (1974)

R | | Action, Crime, Drama | March 1975 (USA)
Harry Kilmer returns to Japan after several years in order to rescue his friend George's kidnapped daughter - and ends up on the wrong side of the Yakuza, the notorious Japanese mafia...

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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Harry Kilmer
...
Tanaka Ken (as Takakura Ken)
...
George Tanner
...
Wheat
...
Dusty
Keiko Kishi ...
Eiko (as Kishi Keiko)
...
Tono (as Okada Eiji)
...
Goro
Kyôsuke Machida ...
Kato
Christina Kokubo ...
Hanako
Eiji Gô ...
Spider (as Go Eiji)
Lee Chirillo ...
Louise
M. Hisaka ...
Boyfriend
William Ross ...
Tanner's Guard
Akiyama ...
Tono's Guard
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Storyline

Harry Kilmer returns to Japan after several years in order to rescue his friend George's kidnapped daughter - and ends up on the wrong side of the Yakuza, the notorious Japanese mafia... Written by Michael Brooke <michael@everyman.demon.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

japan | yakuza | love | mafia | business | See All (38) »

Taglines:

A man never forgets. A man pays his debts. See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

|

Release Date:

March 1975 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Yakuza  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Lee Marvin was scheduled to star with Robert Aldrich as director. When Robert Mitchum replaced Marvin, he forced out Aldrich. Replacement director Sydney Pollack briefly considered Robert Redford for the lead role. See more »

Goofs

The boom mic is clearly visible in one scene when Oliver Wheat grabs his cat while telling the story of Eiko to Dusty, the mic appears behind the table and is retracted as Wheat advances. See more »

Quotes

Goro: Ken is a tormented man. It is Eiko, of course, but it is also Japan. Ken is a relic, a leftover of another age, of another country.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Making 'Taxi Driver' (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Only the Wind
Japanese Lyrics Yû Aku (as Aku Yu)
Composed by Dave Grusin
See more »

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User Reviews

The Start Of A Great Career
3 May 2001 | by (Poughkeepsie, NY) – See all my reviews

The strongest point of this film is the writing. It's the first Paul Schrader script ever to be filmed, written with his brother Leonard (who also worked with Paul on Blue Collar & Mishima) and Robert Towne (Chinatown, Marathon Man, Bonnie & Clyde). It seems we have the best of both Schrader's here; Leonard really understands the Japanese culture and Paul is a very cerebral and thematic writer who almost always raises a number of interesting issues.

The film, which is very respectful of it's foreign culture and tries to be as true as possible to it, first and foremost shows the differences between American and Japanese culture. However, there are so many themes in this movie though that it becomes tiresome to list them. The key ones include honor, loyalty, burden, duty, friendship, love, loss, obligation, and the differences between the men of pre and post war Japan.

Although Robert Mitchum was approaching 60 when made the film, he still possessed enough of his trademark grace to be credible enough against much younger men in the action scenes. He always exudes so much casualness and weariness, but his work here shows he was obviously fired up by the material.

The other standout actor is Ken Takakura. He plays an honorable man that everyone respects, but his honor and old ways also often make him intolerable to anyone around him. He hides the deep wounds of his character behind his stone face, but that doesn't in any way prevent him from conveys that he's a miserable man from another age who lives by his code but not for anything. As he's the native that used to be in the Yakuza and Mitchum is the gaijin that doesn't have to follow their honor system (although as the movie progresses, he subscribes to their codes and honor system more and more), Takakura gets to do all the skilled swordplay. His fighting won't thrill those who want a lot of stunts, but is great if you enjoy the psychology and strategy of the craft.

The film is it has a drab, low budget kind of look, mainly as a way to maintain the mood and tone of the piece. Some of the scenes really bring the material to life, particularly through some excellent camera work, but sometimes the look is indifferent and the soundtrack seems to be trying too hard. Aside from staying true to the material and getting strong performances, I wouldn't say that Sydney Pollack has done a great job here. This is not the kind of movie you watch if you are looking for John Woo action though, and for the most part the flaws are overshadowed by the strength of the script and performances. 8/10


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