The Yakuza

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

ACTORS :  Robert Mitchum, Ken Takakura, Brian Keith

YEAR OF RELEASE :  1974

POSTAGE : Free postage within Australia

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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…

widely unrecognized gem

I have to agree with the preponderance of viewers here who rate this as a neglected classic of the 70’s. All aspects of the film – performances, script, and direction – raise this to the level of greatness. This is certainly among Mitchum’s greatest performances – his subdued, world-weary toughness undergirds the movie. The story as has been noted, is a rich and multilayered one with a sadness that aspires to and quite nearly reaches the level of tragedy. It also must be noted that this is one of the most effective portrayals of Japanese culture on celluloid. The movie does not shrink from violence; the various scenes of assassination and slaughter could have been done by Peckinpah.

So good I can’t believe that not only had I not seen it but not even heard of it

This is just so good I can’t believe that not only had I not seen it but not even heard of it. Screenplay by Paul Schrader (and his brother) just before he did Taxi Driver should have drawn attention but then maybe the Scorsese film took all the attention. Sydney Pollack’s direction is assured and he gets great performances from everyone, but I reckon it is the script thats the thing. Moreover it is the only US film I have ever seen that seems to have the vaguest notion of Japan and it culture. So much of this rings true that it tingles with the excitement. The 70s streets of Tokyo and Kyoto are something to behold and the believable interaction between the main characters quite fabulous. There is bloody action here but for a film with such a title nothing like as much as expected, and all the better for it. Love, memory, betrayal, loyalty and repayment of debts both financial and emotional are all here – oh and Robert Mitchum and ken Takakura are great.

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