A slow-burning and melancholy Bushidō-noir that builds to some spectacular outbursts of violence (Schrader's contributions, I imagine). Hindered by some hammy exposition, but it's ultimately effective and memorable. Ken Takakura is a badass.
35mm. A great political film with a psychology without fanfare and a concise narrative of a plasticity wisely elaborated for the dimension of panoramic screen. More than a choreographic action film - reduced to a splendidly staged central scene, with a denial of speed that is the opposite of King Hu or Chang Cheh - it's a "out of the past" love story and a ethical lesson on friendship.
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.
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.
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.
Evocative scenes set in Kyoto and Tokyo imbued with a melancholy mood and suspense. Robert Mitchum is reflective and rueful. This movie is meditative--not a mindless display of violence like Tarantino, Woo, or other action pictures. Scorsese expressed interest in the screenplay (created by Paul Schrader, with rewrites by Robert Towne.) He would have been a
much better choice as director than Pollack.
Too much "giri" (symbolics) & too less "yakuza" (action). Robert Mitchum, 57, is too old for this. A lot of melancholy, nothing wrong with it, but the entire movie nearly drowns in it. Very slow, almost too slow. You feel that the story will reveal some secrets and that keeps the tension high. For me Takakura Ken is the "star" in this movie. But at the end, overall it's average. Below expectation. Bit disappointing.