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...



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

Watch Now

From $1.99 (SD) on Amazon Video



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Action | Drama | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Major Charles Rane comes back from the war and is given a number of gifts from his hometown because he is a war hero. Some greedy thugs decide that they want to steal a number of silver ... See full summary »

Director: John Flynn
Stars: William Devane, Tommy Lee Jones, Linda Haynes
Blue Collar (1978)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Three workers, Zeke (Richard Pryor), Jerry (Harvey Keitel) and Smokey (Yaphet Kotto), are working at a car plant and drinking their beers together. One night when they steal away from their... See full summary »

Director: Paul Schrader
Stars: Richard Pryor, Harvey Keitel, Yaphet Kotto
Hardcore (1979)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

A conservative Midwest businessman ventures into the sordid underworld of pornography in California to look for his runaway teenage daughter who is making porno films in California's porno pits.

Director: Paul Schrader
Stars: George C. Scott, Peter Boyle, Season Hubley
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

After his last crime has him looking at a long prison sentence for repeat offenses, a low level Boston gangster decides to snitch on his friends to avoid jail time.

Director: Peter Yates
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Peter Boyle, Richard Jordan
Adventure | Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A mountain man who wishes to live the life of a hermit becomes the unwilling object of a long vendetta by Indians, and proves to be a match for their warriors in one-on-one combat on the early frontier.

Director: Sydney Pollack
Stars: Robert Redford, Will Geer, Delle Bolton
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

A bookish CIA researcher finds all his co-workers dead, and must outwit those responsible until he figures out who he can really trust.

Director: Sydney Pollack
Stars: Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.1/10 X  

When her marriage falls apart, a psychiatrist seeks out those of her former boyfriends who left the biggest impact on her life, mostly in a bad way.

Director: Joan Tewkesbury
Stars: Talia Shire, Richard Jordan, Keith Carradine
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

Bobby Deerfield, a famous American race car driver on the European circuit, falls in love with the enigmatic Lillian Morelli, who is terminally ill.

Director: Sydney Pollack
Stars: Al Pacino, Marthe Keller, Anny Duperey
Comedy | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Forced to trade his valuable furs for a well-educated escaped slave, a rugged trapper vows to recover the pelts from the Indians and later the renegades that killed them.

Director: Sydney Pollack
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Shelley Winters, Telly Savalas
Comedy | Western | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

Sonny Steele used to be a rodeo star, but his next appearance is to be on a Las Vegas stage, wearing a suit covered in lights, advertising a breakfast cereal. When he finds out they are ... See full summary »

Director: Sydney Pollack
Stars: Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Valerie Perrine
Havana I (1990)
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

Cuba, December 1958: The professional gambler Jack visits Havana to organize a big Poker game. On the ship he meets Roberta and falls in love with her. Shortly after they arrive in Cuba, ... See full summary »

Director: Sydney Pollack
Stars: Robert Redford, Lena Olin, Alan Arkin
Drama | Romance | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

When a prosecutor leaks a false story that a liquor warehouse owner is involved in the murder of an union head, the man's life begins to unravel.

Director: Sydney Pollack
Stars: Paul Newman, Sally Field, Bob Balaban


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


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) »


Separated by blood and centuries - United by a Woman - Now, hurled together against the Yakuza . . . brotherhood of the East. See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:







Release Date:

21 December 1974 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

The Yakuza  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Martin Scorsese wanted to direct after Mean Streets (1973) but the producers wanted Sydney Pollack. See more »


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 »


Eiko Tanaka: Did you speak to Ken?
Harry Kilmer: Yeah
Eiko Tanaka: Does he know we are here?
Harry Kilmer: Sure.
Eiko Tanaka: Is he unhappy?
Harry Kilmer: I'm on my way over to see him now.
Eiko Tanaka: But is he unhappy?
Harry Kilmer: Of course he's unhappy, he's been unhappy ever since he lost the war. I keep trying to tell him it's not his fault, he won't take my word for it.
See more »


Remade as The Yakuza See more »


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

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

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

22 of 26 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
So A Remake?...Keeping It Old You Think??? samariley
Yakuza to be released on DVD sarjim
The Yakuza cuts? gantami
Remake caliope1138
Tile game in the Yakuza boliver-4
Excellent Film! victora87
Discuss The Yakuza (1974) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: