Blu-ray review – The Yakuza

The Yakuza

Director: Sydney Pollack

Screenplay: Leonard and Paul Schrader

Minutes: 112

Year: 1974

Score: 6.47

Release: Warner Archive


Sydney Pollack’s 1974 film, The Yakuza, filled me with a touch of apprehension before I finished opening the cellophane. There is a long history of cultural appropriation in Hollywood and even though I trusted Pollack and star Robert Mitchum. Sadly, that apprehension had a negative effect on my viewing.

From the Warner Archive;

“Former private eye Harry Kilmer knows a lot about Japan – and the gangsters who keep an iron grip on its gambling, prostitution and protection rackets. He knows there’s a right way to approach the brutal underworld. And he knows there’s one thing powerful mobsters respect: greater power. Robert Mitchum is Kilmer in this haunting East-meets-West-head-on thriller powered by a team of heavy Hollywood hitters: writers Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver) and Robert Towne (Chinatown) and director Sydney Pollack (The Interpreter). Costarring Japan’s Takakura Ken and veteran character actor Brian Keith, The Yakuza is a modern film noir in which honor and loyalty become issues of life and death. Violence erupts with the speed of a Tokyo-bound bullet train. And the last thing to die is tradition.”

While I am not a huge fan of save the princess films there was something about this film that blurred those lines. Make no mistake, this is a save the princess movie, but since Mitchum is there to save the daughter of a dear friend from an earlier life.

The Yakuza is a good film. Very well acted and filmed. There were pretty good, though wholly unbelievable, action scenes, I was reminded of the final scene from Samurai 3. It was a stressful sort of fun and it lets you cheer for the hero which is difficult in some 1970’s cop films.

The Warner Motion Picture Imaging facility provided a new 2k scan and this release was an incredibly strong 1080p, AVC-encoded Blu-ray. It is a gorgeous release that sounded very crisp and clean.

The disc includes a vintage featurette EPK and an a udio commentary with director Sydney Pollack.

My score if 6.47 is middle of the road but this is a good film that I can see re-visiting in a few years. For that I can recommend it, if you are a fan of Robert Mitchum you will definitely want to pick this release up.

It is available from the WBShop.

Director: 7 – Cinematography: 9 – Edit: 5 – Parity: 3 – Main performance: 10 – Else performance: 3 – Score: 7 – Sound: 7 – Story: 8 – Script: 7 – Effects: 6 – Design: 6 – Costumes: 5 – Keeps interest: 9 – Lasting: 5