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The Yakuza [Import]

Robert Mitchum , Ken Takakura , Sydney Pollack    R (Restricted)   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 29.88
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Complex to the point of being pleasingly convoluted, this Sydney Pollack film (from a terrific script by Robert Towne and Leonard and Paul Schrader) is an intriguing blend of Western and Asian sensibilities. Mitchum, in one of his best roles of the 1970s, is drawn to the Orient by an army buddy (Brian Keith), whose daughter has been kidnapped. But when he gets to Japan, Mitchum finds that her kidnappers are the shadowy Yakuza, the Japanese Mafia--an organization that is as vicious as it is tradition-bound. He must call on friends he made after World War II for favors and finds himself unintentionally trampling on issues of honor, even as he battles for his life and that of the girl he is seeking. Surprisingly heartfelt and deliciously exciting, the film features a sorrowful performance by Mitchum and a stoically touching one by Ken Takakura. And what great samurai swordplay! --Marshall Fine

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A man always pays his debts . . . Oct. 3 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Well, if this film doesn't put hair on your chest, nothing will.
Look up 'film noir' in the dictionary and there should be a picture of Robert Mitchum in The Yakuza, alongside Bogie in The Maltese Falcon. It's that good of a film.
The theme is about honor, or "giri." The last bastion of manhood in an relativistic world ambivalent towards heroism, unsure about any values, moral or otherwise, and gone to hell.
Against this background, you may be a tad on the shady side of the law, but do you keep faith with your friends?
For that matter, would you risk taking a bullet for someone you personally loathe but whom you "owe" because he's saved the life of your wife and child?
The plot begins when Mitchum is approached by an old army buddy that he hasn't heard from in decades, save for the annual obligatory Christmas card. His daughter's been kidnapped by Japanese mobsters and he needs his help.
As to Mitchum, his character is established in one line.
"You've been successful?"
Mitchum: "That depends on how you figure those things."
True enough. He has no family, no friends, no one even remotely close. The film noir loner, now in his sixties.
He goes back to Japan, links up with the only woman he ever loved, and the one enemy who can help him gain entry into the dark world of the Yakuza; an ultra-traditionalist latter-day Samurai ( Tanaka Ken ) who "owes" Mitchum.
One small problem, he's no longer a Yakuza. He's been out of the mob for years. When Mitchum finds out this unpleasant bit of inforation and blurts out "I can't ask you to do that!" Tanaka Ken quietly replies: "You already have."
The aged warriors go to it again. A great story of love and betrayal. Acted in a style of understated whispers between flashing katanas that bring the house down.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars PUT IT ON DVD PLEASE!... June 12 2002
Format:VHS Tape
I have never seen this particular version of the video. I have the original one that came out and guard it jealously! What I cannot understand is why this movie has never been released on DVD!... There are so many underlying themes throughout this movie besides that of the main plot of betrayal by old Army buddies and the honor gained through the loyalty of newly formed friendship between Mitchum and Ken. I've often wondered if I would experience the same feelings Mitchum experienced coming back to Tokyo, if I went back to Saigon and saw those I knew back when I was in Nam. What a feeling to see how much things had changed and yet remained the same. There are many deep themes explored in this movie. Definitely one of Sidney Pollack's more under rated, yet finer films for nuance!... I highly recommend this movie to anyone who wants more than swords and blood.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A DVD version is now imperative! May 24 2004
By H
Format:VHS Tape
This is the landmark film saga of the "tough guy" gangster with a heart of gold, both Japanese and American. In many ways and at many levels it represents an achievement decades ahead of it's time. Quentin Tarantino has obviously been inspired by this film for many of the key scenes of "Kill Bill: Part One", and as such has paid it great homage. It would seem quite likely that the creators of "The Yakuza" had some level of cooperation with actual Japanese organized crime syndicates during it's filming (it has that sense of realism, and the "extras" just look too good), and a behind the scenes account would likely prove fascinating.
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Format:VHS Tape
The movie is excellent. It really rates 5 stars for its strong plot, acting, direction, and camera work. The theme throughout is honor, and obligation. But pay attention to the "obligation" part. There is the notion that we are defined by our obligations, a concept that is vastly different between east and west. Personally, I think we could use a little more of the Japanese context of obligation in our own society and culture. And this movie's depiction appeals to something in me that is, admittedly, fundamentally romantic.
My problem with the video is this: there are omissions from this version that were in the first version I saw. Some footage has been edited out, and although its omission does not adversely affect the story line, it was an effective contribution. Also, there are sections where subtitles are omitted. (My most recent viewing was in the company of a friend who speaks Japanese and English, and they provided their own comments regarding the accuracy, not necessarily of the English rendering, but more on what the Japanese "should" have been in the context.) Mind you, the movie is in English, with some segments of Japanese dialog. But it was disappointing that some of the most eloquent dialog wasn't even translated.
Maybe someone, somewhere, will grant my wish and produce an unexpurgated version on DVD ...
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4.0 out of 5 stars Robert Mitchum at his best April 10 2000
Format:VHS Tape
This movie is one of the best action films to be made in the seventies and late sixties. It stays away from the anti-establishment preachiness so popular during that time and goes for classic hard-boiled action. And, as noted by others ,also explores the concepts of honor and friendship. During this time period several of Hollywood's older leading men who had been real studs in the forties and early fifties (Mitchum, Holden, Brian Keith, John Wayne) were turning out some superior action movies with intelligent scripts. The Yakuza is no exception. Here you have two wildly different cultures meeting, clashing, but also finding much in common. Two strong and principled men working together, even though at first they dislike one another, both always having to work at staying true to their principles while dealing with the world and those who are not so ethical. Some might find the message that violence and vengence have a place in the scheme of things and can actually be cleansing to be disturbing, but this story is about two warriors(essentially). The warrior strives for perfection in many things, but pacifiscm isn't one of those. When one is betrayed by a friend,or one's blood is betrayed then retribution must be dealt to the betrayer and sometimes honor can only be restored by cutting off one's finger. To a Western viewer much of this is inconceivable - we're all to enlightened anymore, but I found this movie to have a ring of truth to it. Though when I recently watched it with my wife she found it to be somewhat grotesque. She loves the Lethal Weapon movies - which have as much substance to them as cotton candy. This movie is a much more solid piece of filmaking in which the violence has a place. I found it to be restrained and not gratuitous. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Underrated and Little known Masterpiece
I am continually surprised no one I talk to about this movie has heard of it. This is really a fantastic gangster/crime movie in every way. Mitchum and Takakura Ken are perfect. Read more
Published on Sept. 23 2000 by Adron Gardner
5.0 out of 5 stars yakuza
great movie - i own it on laser disc and would like to get it on dvd and am ordering on video. great insight into the traditions of the east versus the west and how the right... Read more
Published on Aug. 9 2000 by "jempeh"
4.0 out of 5 stars Robert Mitchum at his best
This movie is one of the best action films to be made in the seventies and late sixties. It stays away from the anti-establishment preachiness so popular during that time and goes... Read more
Published on April 10 2000 by Jeff Cordell
5.0 out of 5 stars Please release this on DVD, Warner Bros.!
A beautiful film, by any standard. Marshall Fine says it best when he calls it "surprisingly heartfelt and deliciously exciting" in the review above. Read more
Published on Nov. 4 1999 by Anders Runestad
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding collaboration of Japanese and Hollywood film tal
A moving depiction of classical samurai values conflicting with the realities of the modern world. Features fine kenjutsu and iai performances that, though choreographed, are... Read more
Published on Oct. 10 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a martial arts movie: worth watching!
The Yakuza is certainly worth watching as both film noir and a look at post-war Japan. Mitchum and Ken, classic "tough guys" representing disparate cultures, form an... Read more
Published on Nov. 24 1998
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