52 user 38 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 »

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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 Keiko Kishi ... Eiko (as Kishi Keiko)
Eiji Okada ... Tono (as Okada Eiji)
James Shigeta ... Goro
Kyôsuke Machida Kyôsuke Machida ... Kato
Christina Kokubo Christina Kokubo ... Hanako
Eiji Gô 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


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


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »



USA | Japan


English | Japanese

Release Date:

21 December 1974 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

The Yakuza See more »

Filming Locations:

California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The gambling game played by the Yakuza in the film is Tehonbiki. 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 »


Remade as The Yakuza See more »


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

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User Reviews

A building 70s thriller. Very thoughtful and dramatic yet also punctuated by ACTION!
22 April 2007 | by theVHSrocksSee all my reviews

Your not likely to see a more somber and serious gangster film. I find myself hardpressed to find another film like this with the exception of In Cold Blood that approaches the world of crime in such a somber manner that takes into account all the facets with tone that is 100% not a comedy. This film takes itself extremely seriously. This isn't any Scareface, Goodfellas, or even The Godfather. This is crime told in the same manner as a European character drama. Only the body count suggest the films actiony and possibly exploitative intentions.

The film follows our main character revisiting his old-WW2 roots in Japan, half revisiting loved ones and half going on a mission to rescue his old friend's daughter, who was kidnapped by a Yakuza crime lord. So, we get reconciliation and ponderings about their life in addition to a thickening plot filled with violent set pieces. The characters are extremely thoughtful, and much of the film is based around the choices people choose to make as pertaining to what they see to be their duty and debts.

We also get a very interesting look at Japanese culture and a sizable amount of gore. But still, though, even with today's inhibition about showing violence and fascination with Japan, they wouldn't make mob movies like this anymore.

If you enjoy action with slow-paced character-drama, this is definitely for you.

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