Overlooked '70s gem that blends samurai and noir. Incredible creds involved: Schrader, Towne, Pollack, Mitchum, and in one of the baddest badass roles ever, Ken Takakura. Builds to an insane, violent finale with hanzo swords and sawed-off shotguns. Cool factor through the roof.
Unlike Scorsese, Pollack doesn't get Schrader's violent existentialism & instead attempts to romanticise the relationship between characters; to give them a relatable sympathetic edge. The result is a stylish, often quite beautiful action movie in the tradition of Point Blank; however it's clear from the progression of the narrative that this, like Taxi Driver, would've played better as a nihilistic revenge fantasy.
In black ink, Sydney Pollock draws a cheesy attempt at justifying Schrader's badass script which is tattooed with a lot of muscular potential. What attracts me the most besides watching Robert Mitchum getting almost into a ninja in Yazuka territory, are the neatly-cutted and intensely staged fightscenes, which are done with great enthusiasm and should've wiped out the romantic part of the story -completely!
After The Way We Were in 1973, The Yakuza was the second masterpiece in a row directed by Sydney Pollack, a director who seems already forgotten now, just a few years after his death. A DVD I'm proud to have in my library.
One of the last great films Mitchum did. Mitchum and Takakura are outstanding, Pollacks best although anyone who has already seen Yakuza films before this one may feel it explains too much about them. However, it is a great introduction to the genre to westerners who are unfamiliar with it. The last half an hour is particularly brilliant.