Out of the Past: The Films of Robert Mitchum

The Yakuza

Sydney PollackUSA112 minutes1974ColourEnglish

Mar 4
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    Paul and Leonard Schrader (with an assist from Robert Towne) scripted this cross-cultural thriller, which Mitchum authority Philippe Garnier calls "one of the best West-meets-East movies ever." Thirty years after serving as an MP in occupied Japan, world-weary detective Harry Kilmer (played by Mitchum, then approaching 60) returns to Tokyo at the behest of his old friend George Tanner (Brian Keith), whose shady business dealings have led to his daughter being kidnapped and held for ransom by a gang of yakuza. Kilmer's mission is double, as he intends to revisit his Japanese girlfriend of yesteryear (Keiko Kishi) in hopes of rekindling their affair, while soliciting the aid of her resentful, ex-yakuza brother (Japanese superstar Ken Takakura). Tables are turned, friends betrayed, innocents killed, and loyalties tested as Kilmer makes his murderous way through Tokyo's underworld. (A sequence involving a dinner for a yakuza gang offers supremely choreographed mayhem.) "A handsome, expensive production with a great performance by Robert Mitchum … a superior action movie" (Roger Ebert).

    Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.