62 user 49 critic

The Yakuza (1974)

American private-eye Harry Kilmer returns to Japan to rescue a friend's kidnapped daughter from the clutches of the Yakuza.


Sydney Pollack


Paul Schrader (screenplay), Robert Towne (screenplay) | 1 more credit »




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


The Secret Society of Japan See more »


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Sydney Pollack didn't preview any of his films via test screenings and focus groups until 2005's The Interpreter. It was his final film. 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 »


Dusty: American saw cuts on a push stroke, Japanese saw cuts on a pull stroke. When an American cracks up, he opens up the window and shoots up a bunch of strangers. When a Japanese cracks up, he closes the window and kills himself. Everything is in reverse.
See more »

Alternate Versions

Recent US VHS releases are missing subtitles for Japanese dialogue in some scenes. Particularly when Ken makes an apology to his brother near the end, and the final, emotion scene between Harry and Ken. See more »


Referenced in Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) See more »


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

User Reviews

The Godfather Japanese Style
10 November 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

The Yakuza introduced we occidentals to the term the Japanese use for their various crime families. Probably after the wide acceptance of both the Godfather films, the American public was ready to see what organized crime looked like in another culture.

La Cosa Nostra, the Mafia, all those phrases we use for Italian organized crime certainly had their rituals and traditions. But as we learn in watching this film they have nothing on the Yakuza.

Robert Mitchum plays a private detective who works both sides of the law back in the states and he's hired by crime boss Brian Keith to rescue his daughter who was kidnapped by one of the Yakuza crime families in lieu of a shipment of weapons Keith was supposed to deliver. Coming along with him is young Richard Jordan whose father was a friend of both Mitchum and Keith as backup.

The mission is accomplished, but Mitchum and Jordan find the situation is a whole lot more complex than they were led to believe. In addition Mitchum gets involved with an old girl friend from the days when he was a military policeman during the postwar American occupation. She's the key to getting help from a former Yakuza member in their quest.

The American actors perform well here and oriental players James Shigeta and Japanese film star Takakura Ken are well cast as feuding Yakuza brothers. You will not question why Takakura Ken is known as the Japanese Clint Eastwood after seeing The Yakuza.

Director Sydney Pollack shows a real reverence and respect for the traditions of another culture. The Yakuza is both entertaining and informative and should not be missed.

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Japan | USA


English | Japanese

Release Date:

19 March 1975 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Yakuza See more »

Filming Locations:

California, USA See more »


Box Office


$5,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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