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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great films of the Seventies
The Yakuza is one of the great films of the seventies. Although this didn't make much noise in the seventies (despite a truly surreal promotional gimmick, `Join the Yakuza Set' tattoo transfers!), it has held up a lot better than he plethora of seventies thrillers that swamped it at the time.

Belonging to that subgenre of Americans-in-Japan thrillers (Fuller's...
Published on 22 Nov. 2007 by Trevor Willsmer

versus
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Signature collection what does it mean?
Single disc containing 3 films, Number 1, (Agency) a political/ad agency becomes a vehicle for a media brain washing campaign a poor Mitchum film.... Number 2, (Gung HO) Randolf Scott WW2 US fight for freedom against Japan, Mitchum's bit part you might miss if you look away from the screen, Number 3, (Aerial Gunner) WW2 rear gunner training film, rear of cover states...
Published on 19 April 2008 by L. White


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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the great films of the Seventies, 22 Nov. 2007
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Yakuza (DVD)
The Yakuza is one of the great films of the seventies. Although this didn't make much noise in the seventies (despite a truly surreal promotional gimmick, `Join the Yakuza Set' tattoo transfers!), it has held up a lot better than he plethora of seventies thrillers that swamped it at the time.

Belonging to that subgenre of Americans-in-Japan thrillers (Fuller's House of Bamboo, Scott's Black Rain, Frankenheimer's The Challenge), The Yakuza is a film about the price of honor and about people who face their responsibilities. The film could almost be called `giri' - Japanese for obligation or the burden hardest to bear. Richard Jordan's bodyguard may start out wiseguy ("That can work both ways. If you ain't alive tomorrow, he don't owe you s***.") but even he lives up to his moral obligations when discharged from them by Mitchum. All of the plot developments are a result of obligations, with the characters following through as per their personal codes of honor, taken to the ultimate extreme in Mitchum's final apology to Takakura Ken for destroying both his past and his future.

The hook might be that Mitchum returns to Japan to help secure the release of an old army friend's daughter from a Yakuza clan and in the process reopening old wounds with former lover Kishi Keiko and her brother Takakura Ken, but the emotional undercurrents are as important as the plot developments, with the film's criminal double-dealing mirrored in the myriad personal betrayals he is as he is forced to face the fact that he has always confused his friends with his enemies.

It is not a film that wears its emotions on its sleeve, and is all the more affecting for that the awkwardness of Mitchum's meeting with Ken and the hesitancy of his reunion with Keiko (and the subtle re-enactment of the old photos in her album) - everything is in the pauses and between the lines. It's these emotional undercurrents that make it stand up to repeated viewings.

The early seventies was a last golden age for the eternally under-rated Mitchum, with outstanding performances in The Friends of Eddie Coyle, Farewell My Lovely and Ryan's Daughter, and this is one of his best. His `strange stranger' and Takakura Ken's `man who never smiles' ("He's been unhappy ever since he lost the war. I keep trying to tell him it's not his fault but he won't take my word for it") is a match made in casting heaven. Their screen presence is remarkably similar, exuding a lifetime of world-weariness and personal loss that attracts both empathy and respect for their characters. Both give superbly understated performances, with the great Takakura Ken getting his best English-language role to date.

Jordan gives a nicely unassuming performance in the juvenile lead, making the most of his romantic subplot by showing the least, and there's an added poignancy to his fate since the actor's death. Indeed, all the performances are superb, with the emphasis on being rather than acting.

The screenplay as filmed is a terrific mixture of the commercial and the cerebral. Where most modern American thrillers are driven by indiscriminate violence ("In America, a guy cracks up he opens a window and kills a few strangers. Here, a guy cracks up, he closes the window and kills himself," observes Jordan), here events and participants are interconnected. All of the main characters are friends or surrogate family, and although Robert Towne was brought in to up the gangster element from the Shraders' (Leonard and Paul) more philosophical approach (the differences can be found in Leonard Schrader's novelization), he knows enough to keep it personal. It's witty too, without being condescending or resorting to the pre-kill one-liners so prevalent today that divorce the audience from the consequences and ramifications of violence. Only a very dialog-heavy bit of exposition about the backstory between Mitchum and Keiko feels a tad clumsy.

Sydney Pollack's sensitivity to the material is remarkable. There's an unshowy adventurousness to his direction that he hasn't displayed since. In particular, the action scenes are extraordinary without ever straying from the credible, a disciplined mixture of stillness and sudden violence and a complete departure in style for the director.

Warners' new DVD is long overdue, and very welcome indeed. Extras are a little thin - a very good 19-minute promotional featurette from 1974, Promises to Keep, and an audio commentary from Sydney Pollack - and it's disappointing that the deleted scenes from the longer 123-minute version of the film are not included.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Yakuza DVD, 1 April 2011
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This review is from: The Yakuza (DVD)
Excellent quality DVD, some interesting extras on the making of the film. I've seen this film dozens of times now but the DVD was better. Their seemed to be more detail, some of the scenes had an extra sentence or two of dialogue, and the background sound effects were more noticeable in a good way. Well worth getting if you loved the original.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A forgotten great movie, 16 July 2010
By 
Anna Spinelli "bibliophile" (Ravenna, Italie) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Yakuza (DVD)
Cought it the first time on tv in the heat of the night, it has been great to discover this little masterpiece of the Seventies, with its rough truths just shown as it was, the way movies did those years. Uncommon plot, great attention to the details, a sound script involving until the last sequence, a rich revealing foreground. This dvd edition keeps it all intact, both the original and the dubbed versions, the screen format and colours. Worth to be collected and seen from time to time thanks to the work of great director and a respectable even more great cast and all.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bushido Bloodbath, 8 Jan. 2013
This review is from: The Yakuza (DVD)
Well, not bushido exactly, but Yakuzas - gangsters with principles. It's a very watchable film. I was surprised and somewhat appalled by the lashings of violence being myself a bit squeamish and anti-gratuitousness. However, the thing that hangs over it all is the war and settling of scores and reconciliation. In that way it's all a bit 'meaningful' but nevertheless always interesting. Not quite sure about the script, much-praised but to my ear a bit stilted at times, or some of the ease with which violence and death is doled out. However, compared I suppose to the violence of war, the Tokyo firestorms and the A-bombs, there is an excuse: it is small beer. A distinct absence of police it seems, but we're supposed to think this happens with their complicity because the clans are so powerful. The nods to late Ozu are there in the back alleys and bars with neon lighting, surprisingly, except Schrader is involved of course and I think he's a big fan. There are also train shots but this time is bullet trains in the landscape. And there is a link in that the heroine was a youngster in Late Spring the last of the Noriko trilogy.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Obligation, 13 July 2009
By 
Paul D. Hartley (Philippines) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Yakuza (DVD)
I like films with interesting characters, story lines and maybe a little philisophy - so not everyone's taste.

This film centers around the concept of giri (obligation) in Japan and how Tanaka Ken and eventually Harry Kilmer have their lives directed by giri.

The clash of cultures (western and Japanese) is interesting and put into a satisfying context. There are some fascinating side issues discussed between the different characters.

Ultimately the film is about sacrifice and how each of the different characters makes their sacrifice at the relevant times in the plot. It is also a film about earned respect as well as betrayal among friends.

There are some good sword fighting scenes for thos who like them (maybe too violent for some tastes), but thankfully Mitchum was not asked to wield a katana, that was left to the expert.

Oh, and the Yakuza form a central theme to the film, Tanaka being a former member and his brother one of its leaders. The Yakuza are sympathetically handled, having a code of conduct to which they strictly adhere and which also plays a central role in the plot.

Highly recommended, one of my favorite films.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Signature collection what does it mean?, 19 April 2008
Single disc containing 3 films, Number 1, (Agency) a political/ad agency becomes a vehicle for a media brain washing campaign a poor Mitchum film.... Number 2, (Gung HO) Randolf Scott WW2 US fight for freedom against Japan, Mitchum's bit part you might miss if you look away from the screen, Number 3, (Aerial Gunner) WW2 rear gunner training film, rear of cover states Starring a 26 Year old Mitchum on this one but if you blink you could miss his 27 second slot near the end of the film. plus he had no credit on screen roll, so does signature mean only in the film a little longer then it takes to write his name?
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Please accept a Token of Apology", 24 Jun. 2008
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This review is from: The Yakuza (DVD)
Harry Kilmer(Robert Mitchum)returns to Japan after 20 years to intercede on the behalf of an old friend George Tanner(Brian Keith)who has fallen foul of the powerful Tono clan in business.However not all is at it seems and Kilmer ends up getting old flame Eiko(Kishi Keiko)and her "brother Tanaka Ken(Takakura Ken)involved in a complex and haunting tale of honour and betrayal.
Atypical material for Sydney Pollack(written by Paul Schrader and Robert Towne)is however beautifully judged with Pollack capturing the contradiction of Japanese hi-tech business and the culture's pathological adherence to an historical code of honour with great skill.
Both Mitchum and Ken are first rate and the Yakuza,if a touch humourless,delivers some brutal action.One of the best thrillers of the 1970's.
The one extra is an excellent vintage featurette which shows just how many obstacles Pollack had to overcome and ultimately embrace to deliver this movie.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Anyone's guess, 12 Jan. 2008
By 
Glyn C. Smith - See all my reviews
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On the marketing theme, why do Amazon and other suppliers constantly promote forthcoming boxed sets and omit to tell us which actual movies are contained within. Usually these are cynical recycling of DVDs that have already been on the market for ages but just occasionly there's a little treasure in there that we don't know about because they don't tell us in the blurb on line.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Yakuza, 1 May 2010
This review is from: The Yakuza (DVD)
Great movie with plenty of action and storyline.
Shows the importance of honour in Japanes culture at that time.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Please re-release this film!, 12 Feb. 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: The Yakuza [1975] [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This is a fantastic film, one of the best thrillers I've ever seen, and I wanted to show it to a friend who's never seen it. I was distressed to find that it's unavailable on DVD and prohibitively expensive on video. Surely it'd be worth the studio's while to make this film available again at a reasonable price? If you want lurid but emotionally involving action, The Yakuza really has it all - a rumpled, world-weary old Robert Mitchum, sex, violence, samurai swords, tattoos, self-mutilation and a great Tokyo mise-en-scene. Now I'm feeling all deprived because I can't see it again!
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The Yakuza
The Yakuza by Sydney Pollack (DVD - 2008)
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