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The Yakuza


1974's THE YAKUZA is a great little gem of an action flick with a first rate cast, an interesting story and Robert Mitchum in one of his last great roles.

Mitchum is at his hard boiled best as Harry Kilmer, who returns to Japan to retrieve the kidnapped daughter of longtime friend, George Tanner (Brian Keith).

Upon returning to Japan, Harry encounters not only his long lost love, but an old friend with a life long debt to repay and a very tangled web that draws him into the YAKUZA, the Japanese mafia.

With a terrific screenplay by dream team Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver) and Robert Towne (Chinatown) and Director Sidney Pollack (Tootsie, Three Days of The Condor) running the show, its a literate, adult film.

Takakura Ken is exceptionally good as Tanaka, the old friend of Harry's with a debt to pay and many more ties to Harry than he would ever expect.

The film was obviously made with a lot of respect for its portrayal of Japanese culture. This isn't one of those "drop an American cop in another country and laugh as all the cultural awkwardness ensues" movies.

It's intelligent, well crafted and holds up pretty well out of the vault.

One of Mitchum's last big films, THE YAKUZA features him as a type of tough hero little seen today. He's rough, he has great respect for his friends and deep seated loyalties. Hard to imagine anyone else playing Harry quite like Mitchum.

The Yakuza gets a respectful B.

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