63 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 spoke no Japanese, and his cinematographer, Okazaki Kozo, spoke no English. "We communicated in a very strange but effective way." They each had a gray-scale card going from white to black in ten stages, and they used that to communicate light density in various areas of a shot. "He did a lovely job." See more »


The plane that Kilmer is boarding at the end of the film is a Boeing 707, the one shown taking off in the last scene is a 727. 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

First U.S. network television showing was on the late-night schedule of the CBS network, under the title, "Brotherhood of the Yakuza," and was edited to meet broadcast standards of the time. Even compared to subsequent syndicated TV prints, the editing was horrendous, so much so that one could not follow the story. For example, in the last scene, the uninitiated viewer would have no idea why Kilmer's hand is bandaged. See more »


Only the Wind
Japanese Lyrics Yû Aku (as Aku Yu)
Composed by Dave Grusin
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User Reviews

"I have destroyed his past, and his future"

One of the best West-meets-East films made. Great dialogues, very realistic fighting scenes, even though this film has been made so long ago, without any CGI tricks at all, yet the sword fights still look really great. But in my opinion the story, which may be shortly described with one of the sentences spoken by Harry Kilmer (Robert Mitchum) at the end of this film: "I have destroyed his past, and his future" - perhaps the story is what it makes this film so unique and timeless. Outstanding performance by Ken Takakura ("Ken Tanaka")! If you haven't seen it yet - get it now! And why do I say "get it" instead of "rent it"? Because unfortunately VHS version available in US is more than 10 minutes shorter, and European VHS versions have even more *vital to the plot* cuts! (More info here: http://www.us.imdb.com/title/tt0073918/alternateversions

or if it doesn't work try the link under "Alternate versions"). Please: don't waste your time on those! I swear these edited versions must have been edited either by some blind and deaf personae, or a child who didn't understood plot at all! Currently the only good, somewhat true to the original theatrical print (just slightly more than 3 minutes shorter), are the 2hr long versions available on the not-so-legal (and not too good quality-wise) VCDs released in Hong Kong and Asia.

I rated this film very high - and I am not any big sword-actioneers fan, but nor is this movie any kind of sword fighting flicks. Its just a great story that is told (or actually shown) very well, and it deserves full 10/10.

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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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